Gun in the House
April 28, 2005 11:06 AM   Subscribe

My father-in-law, who recently became ill, moved in with us last weekend. My wife and I have two young boys. My father-in-law has guns. I don't like guns. I was perfectly happy not having any guns in my house. Now I'm worried. I know my father-in-law will rattle off fifty-two reasons backwards and forwards and upside down until we're all blue in face why it's important to have guns around. It won't matter - I'll still hate knowing there are guns in MY house. What should I do, grow up and get over it? Or can a compromise be reached? Any advice?
posted by michaelbrown to Human Relations (54 answers total)
We may have the same father-in-law. I have learned to just accept that this is part of his life, but not that it has to be part of mine. For me, a compromise might be to allow him to keep them in the garage -- in a box, locked, and up high and out of reach of my children. I think that having them outside of the main "house" would give me some peace of mind. Of course, I have a detached garage, so there may be more psychological benefit to that in my case.

In the end, it is your house. He is a guest and despite the fact that he is family, he must respect the rules that you have.
posted by xorowo at 11:10 AM on April 28, 2005

Yes, it's your house and if you don't want guns around, then simply tell him that he is welcome but the guns aren't. End of story.

I realize I may be stating the obvious but that's what I would do. Especially if there were young kids around.
posted by gfrobe at 11:12 AM on April 28, 2005

It's your house, right? I understand not wanting to make waves, but perhaps you should consider how you'll feel in the worst case scenarios for each course of action. If you put the guns in a rented storage unit somewhere far away from your house, what's the worst that can happen? If you keep the guns around, what's the worst that can happen?

Regardless, if you moved in with him, he probably wouldn't let you tell him what was appropriate behavior in his house, and I don't see why he should expect that you'll let him tell you what to do. You should politely but firmly insist that the guns go elsewhere.

Standing up for yourself and insisting on your own rights is more "growing up" than caving would be. Let him be the one to get over it.
posted by anapestic at 11:13 AM on April 28, 2005

I agree with all of the above responses. I think the best response is not to argue at all over the merit of having guns in the house. Simply listen to his litany of justifications politely, and then respond, "I'm sorry, but the answer is no." The compromise that I would suggest is arranging storage at the local shooting range.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 11:16 AM on April 28, 2005

xorowo is exactly right- This man is a guest in your house. YOUR house. Someone, IMHO, needs to grow up and get over it, and it's not you.

I'm curious as to why there is no mention of your wife's opinion, only alot of "I,I,I". There's lots of psychoanalytical fun to be had regarding that, but the salient question is- how does she feel? If she feels as you do, then you have very firm ground to stand on. If she sides with your father, then you've got a difficult minefield to navigate.
posted by mkultra at 11:18 AM on April 28, 2005

My wife agrees with me. She is just as nervous about broaching the subject with her father as I am.
posted by michaelbrown at 11:21 AM on April 28, 2005

Keeping the peace and compromising is all fine and good, but we're not talking about an ugly clock or poor housekeeping. We're talking about something that can put your children's lives at risk.

Two kids in my town were, in seperate incidents last year, killed when they started to play with a relative's gun in their homes. Accidents may be rare, but it's a completely unnecessary risk to take.
posted by Kellydamnit at 11:22 AM on April 28, 2005

By the way, if you're looking for a way to make having this conversation with him easier, I'm afraid there isn't one. There are ways to make it harder by getting into an argument over your logic, but it's never going to be easy. It pretty much comes down to you insisting on your way. I happen to think your position makes the most sense, but he's unlikely to ever see it that way.
posted by anapestic at 11:24 AM on April 28, 2005

I have no problem with people who own guns, but my house = no guns. That wouldn't be open for interpretation even if I didn't have a child, that I do makes it infinitely non-negotiable.

It does suck that this issue may cause a fair amount of familial friction, but (and I see Kellydamnit and I are taking the same approach) we aren't talking about introducing a pet that someone's allergic to, or ugly furniture someone wants to plop in your living room.
posted by jalexei at 11:25 AM on April 28, 2005

I am a gun owner and I don't believe that this is an issue you simply need to "grow up" over. How does your wife feel? It sounds like the kind of situation that can get complicated if your wife agrees with you but is not comfortable being assertive with her father. Also, if your father-in-law has an illnesses where his personality has changed (e.g., a stroke) it is obviously a bad idea for him to hold onto his guns.

If for some reason you decide to allow guns in your home, you need to educate your children about them. They should learn that they are not to touch the guns. Establish some kind of rule where if they ever saw them (on the dining room table for example) they are to immediately call you or your wife.

You should also insist on off-site storage of the firearms as suggested above (in a gun safe). If that is not an option definitely trigger locks and ammo in the house.

Preview: What anapestic said.
posted by mlis at 11:25 AM on April 28, 2005

no ammo in the house.
posted by mlis at 11:27 AM on April 28, 2005

Guns are boy magnets. Minimum request = trigger locks. Better idea = locked gun cabinet (ammo in there too). Best = the off-site storage suggested above unless your boys will be taking up outdoor sports and are old enough for Hunter Safety classes. Since you are uncomfortable with guns, this seems unlikely
In his illness, your f-i-l may be clinging to familiar possessions and a previous life-style. That is a difficult complication, but must be faced. Second the idea of your house = your rules!
posted by Cranberry at 11:31 AM on April 28, 2005

My dad had his WW II service revolver in the house and I know he and my mom had no idea I knew where it was or that I would ever mess with it. I never shot it, being a goody-goody girl type, but I did find it and handled it.

Thinking back on that, and me being the least likely person in the WORLD to touch a gun, makes me think that all kids have that curiousity, and I would definitely keep the guns out of the house. Because even if there's no ammo in the house, someone can get some.
posted by GaelFC at 11:33 AM on April 28, 2005

Couple 'o thoughts: contact the local gun range and see what storage options exist beforehand. I think every opportunity to keep your end of things a statement, and not an argument will help. I'd want my speech to basically follow this script:

"Dad, we're thrilled you'll be staying with us, and the fact that the boys will see more of their grandad is especially wonderful. But I'm afraid we'll have to insist on no guns on the property - I've spoken with Dave over at the range and he says they'll be happy to store them for you, and (wife) and I will even help pay the fee." (that last part's optional...)

Any following arguments on his part are met with a serene look and a gently uttered "no guns".
posted by jalexei at 11:33 AM on April 28, 2005

What everybody else said. Ordinarily I wouldn't bother commenting, since my opinion has been expressed repeatedly by others, but in this case, the thought of guns in the house with kids freaks me out enough I want to add my two cents, however repetitive. Like anapestic said, consider the worst case scenarios and realize how petty your fear of confronting Big Daddy is in comparison. If it helps, imagine how he would have responded if you had wanted to bring something he can't stand into his house. This has nothing to do with politics -- I believe in the right to bear arms, and have nothing against his owning guns -- it's a matter of kids' safety. Just say no.
posted by languagehat at 12:08 PM on April 28, 2005

Agree with the above. Storage offsite, period. Shooting range, rental facility, safety deposit box (er, I guess they don't let you store your guns in the bank, huh) or whatever.

You can teach your kids to respect guns, to fear guns, that they're not allowed to touch guns, but kids are curious, and will probably find them and handle them without your knowledge. I'm sure that I'm not the only one here who carefully rifled through (no pun intended) every drawer and closet in the house from a young age onward, just to see what was hidden. Gun-related results similar to GaelFC's.

I don't think that actually saying "my house, my rules" would necessarily be the best approach, as it could easily be taken as insinuating that you think of him as a child.
Jalexei's script is good. Bargining or debating with him will get ugly fast. The point is, it's not that you think that the kids will shoot themselves as soon as you turn your back, it's just that, well, no guns. Period.
posted by desuetude at 12:15 PM on April 28, 2005

Like Languagehat, I simply have to respond, even if I'm not contributing anything new. NO NO NO guns in the house. I get the feeling that you and your wife are somehow intimidated or even scared of her father* because this is such a no brainer: your house, your rules.

*This wouldn't be surprising considering that he is heavily armed.
posted by sic at 12:23 PM on April 28, 2005

Be polite and firm. Guns won't be allowed in the house, and it's not up for discussion. Offer to pay for their storage if necessary.

Then, perhaps as sign of respect, let him take you to the range one day so you can become better acqauinted with his hobby.

BTW, the no ammo/no breech block story doesn't jive, if your kid takes the harmless gun and brings it to school, or out on the street, he'll put himself in grave danger. It's not worth the risk.
posted by furtive at 12:25 PM on April 28, 2005

I like what jalexei said. It's a good idea to not only present the problem but present your proposed solution as well.

And you and your wife need to do this as a team, presenting a united front.

Don't let yourself get talked into feeling guilty about this - if it wasn't a family member you wouldn't think twice about enforcing your rules in your own house.
posted by vignettist at 12:33 PM on April 28, 2005

No compromise. He is a guest, you are the host, and this is one of the few issues that you should always stand firm on.

Full disclosure: I am a gun owner, and I have not read anything above this post.

Seriously, this isn't a philosophical or constitutional argument. It's a matter of personal safety. You're not trying to change his opinions, just setting out the house rules.
posted by MrZero at 12:44 PM on April 28, 2005

I'm not a gun-owner, and I definitely understand that, however rational or irrational it may be, if you're uncomfortable with them in your house, then that's the end of the discussion. However, I might suggest that you at least look into a good gun safe. A decent gun safe would be solid and secure enough that not only would it actually be extremely safe - but just the imposing solidity of the thing should help you with the jitters as well. A half-inch of steel simply feels safe and secure in a very visceral way, that a trigger lock might not.
posted by kickingtheground at 1:10 PM on April 28, 2005

Hi guys, let me complicate matters! I am the wife, and this is my Dad! Now, how much would you pay?

For the record. I agree with Michael but don't feel as strongly, as I grew up around firearms and know how to handle one. Target practice was fun, but I could never stomach hunting.

I have been biding my time on this conversation, waiting until I know he truly feels welcome and settled, so he won't take the request personally and/or get defensive. His values and identity come from a very different place than most of the folks we encounter, and probably most of the members of MeFi.

I know that one of the counter arguments he will have is that me and my siblings, plus my brother's sons, all grew up with great deal of respect for firearms, and would never handle one stupidly, so why can't we just instill those same ideals in our boys? I have no idea how to refute that one. "My way or the highway" means that Dad will likely leave, which is not acceptable. Any ideas?

In the meantime, I have put the rifle high (the pistol is still in the truck) and hidden all the ammo, since I am the one doing most of his unpacking. Thank you all so much for your thoughtful answers.

posted by whatnot at 1:15 PM on April 28, 2005

If you feel the need to compromise, I would suggest an unwieldy gun safe in the garage where you two and dad have the combination and no one else. Set up guidelines together about how and when the guns can be taken out of the safe [No unsupervised guns in the house, ever. No loaded guns in the house, ever.] with you guys having the final say about things that might affect your kids, especially when you are not around. It seems that you may be able to be flexible about things that affect you two and more rigid in a "no mistakes" way about things that affect the kids.
posted by jessamyn at 1:31 PM on April 28, 2005

I guess what I'm most worried about is that he will take it wrong, that he *will* turn it into a philosophical, constitutional and/or political argument. I know he's a safe gun owner; I completely trust his ability to handle them properly. What I don't trust are curious little fingers. On preview: Like whatnot said, he needs to be here right now. He's in no condition to be alone but I'm afraid, knowing how hot-headed he is, that his convictions could urge him to leave if he feels backed into a corner. So now I need to figure out how to avoid backing him into a corner without compromising my own convictions.

I'm particularly grateful to the gun owners who've chimed in. You've helped remind me that this should not be allowed to devolve into any sort of political argument. The suggestions of finding a gun safe are my favorite so far. That is the direction I'm moving now. I will locate one and then we'll broach the subject.
posted by michaelbrown at 1:32 PM on April 28, 2005

I think that the "my house, my rules" approach is fair. Every parent sets rules that they think are appropriate, and you're doing what you think is right for your children. What is "right" may or may not be what your father thinks is right. But, "my house, my rules" doesn't mean that there aren't other ways around it that make everyone happy.

For example, my spouse has a grandmother who enforced a no alcohol policy in her house, but that didn't mean that the family didn't take evening walks that included a hip flask or a walk to the local watering hole.

Similarly, you can present the rule with open arms, like offering to pay for the storage unit rental to hold his weaponry.

It doesn't have to and shouldn't be an argument. "It's our house rule" should be enough. De-escalate instead of trying to argue logically because this is not a logical argument, really. He loves guns, one of you detests them, the other dislikes them. That's emotional.

In the it could be worse category: my inlaws are gun aficianados and my sister-in-law's husband and I have had discussions along the lines of "what are we going to when their parents pass on?" because their house has more weapons per square foot than many gun shops and worse, the total count is not known. They're very good about not storing weapons with live ammo, but will he always retain that sense as he ages and his memory goes (there's evidence of that in his family) we still have a growing fear that this situation will lead to a "news of the weird" headline along the lines of "dog finds hidden gun, shoots owner in the ass".
posted by plinth at 1:34 PM on April 28, 2005

Why does a Buddhist need a gun?
posted by crapulent at 1:36 PM on April 28, 2005

Do you remember any times when you or your siblings weren't as respectful of guns as he might have believed? If you do, that would take the air out of the counter argument pretty quick.

I'm assuming though that you don't, so I might approach it like this: "Dad, whether we have guns in the house or not, I absolutely want the kids to grow up with a healthy respect for guns. I'd be happy to go with you to the target range to teach them gun safety. You know I always loved target practice. But, even with my healthy respect for guns, I'm really not comfortable having them in the house. What if the kids have their friends over and they find them? This neighborhood isn't like the neighborhood I grew up in, and most of the kids have probably never seen a gun much less received proper training in gun safety. What if there's an accident? I know it seems unlikely to you, but it's certainly possible, and that possibility is just too much for me to live comfortably in my home with guns."
posted by willnot at 1:37 PM on April 28, 2005


if Dad will likely leave if you set a no-gun house rule, then he is the one saying (in effect) my way or the highway. It's ironic on many levels coming from a Buddhist, you may want to remind him that the path is called the Middle way (i.e. compromise). Storing the guns in an outside location is a principled compromise for both of you, and he would be most unreasonable not to accept that. So unreasonable that I think you might be facing other mental health/deterioration issues if he puts up a fight even in the face of respectful statements from you. Which would make it even more imperitive for you to be firm..

You just need to do it, with kindness, but no apologies. If you're all adults he just needs to respect that.
posted by dness2 at 1:39 PM on April 28, 2005

whatnot: Sarah Vowell did a segment on This American Life a few years ago called "Shooting Dad" (link to free Real Audio file). It was about how she bonded with her father who is a gunsmith.

Caring for a sick parent is tough and the guns issue makes it tougher. Could you stress to your father you know how important guns are to him and that is why you want to go target shooting with him every week? "The thing is Dad, we really need to have the guns off site." Maybe you could get Michael involved too - take a gun safety class and he could join you guys on the weekly outings.
posted by mlis at 1:40 PM on April 28, 2005

He might be making a big deal about the guns because of all the changes in his life and feeling vulnerable to the health threats to his well-being. He wants to feel in control and well-defended. If this is true, the guns are a meaningless diversion from a real problem.

Maybe if you all could have the conversation be about things that will help him feel more in control and safe even in this time of tremendous change and turmoil, then maybe the guns will drop away?
posted by jasper411 at 1:48 PM on April 28, 2005

Why would you allow something in your home that has the capability to blow the faces off your children? Just to appease good ole dad??? Perhaps you should spout some Buddhist philosophy at him. You know... guiding your actions according to what will result in the least amount of harm.
posted by crapulent at 1:49 PM on April 28, 2005

michaelbrown and whatnot: Your house, your rules. Period.

I know that one of the counter arguments he will have is that me and my siblings, plus my brother's sons, all grew up with great deal of respect for firearms, and would never handle one stupidly, so why can't we just instill those same ideals in our boys? I have no idea how to refute that one. "My way or the highway" means that Dad will likely leave, which is not acceptable. Any ideas?

Instilling those ideals is a good idea. However, it's up to you and your husband as to if and when you decide to do that.

However, if it were me, I'd have no problem compromising and storing the guns in the garage (or somewhere else you KNOW your kids can't get to) and making sure there is NO ammo available anywhere on the property.
posted by deborah at 1:53 PM on April 28, 2005

I want to echo the safe in the garage idea. While it will probably have a greater up-front expense, you won't have to worry about periodically paying for some off-site storage facility. Your kids will be safe, and your father-in-law will feel good knowing that he still owns something that is important to him.
posted by reverendX at 1:56 PM on April 28, 2005

I think given his illness and what must be a crushing feeling of inadequacy at having to leave his own lodgings and depend on his children it would be pretty harsh to bust out the "my house my rules" statement on him. I've never met the man but I'd wager a week's paycheck he'd just as soon not have to go live there, no matter how much everyone loves each other.

I'd suggest that you engage all discussion with the "I feel" strategy. "Dad, I feel a little uncomfortable about having firearms in the house and would appreciate if we could put them in this locked cabinet/offsite storage I arranged/crate which we will bury in the yard under the body of the first mate." Argument argument, logical appeal to your sensibility, etc etc and you say: "Well, I understand your points but I am still uncomfortable with this, I'd really appreciate it if you'd help me out by doing this thing to make me feel more at ease."

If you get into a safety discussion or the relative merits of gun control and whether the toilet paper should hang over the top or down the back you will never get anywhere. Don't engage in logical discussions over this - it's not about logic, it's about your feelings and what will make you more comfortable. The big advantage of that is that no sensible person can tell you that you do not, in fact, feel that way.

I would be astonished if your father(in law), who has committed to the eightfold path, no less, would not agree to a reasonable plan presented to him if you told him it would make you feel better while he came to live with you.
posted by phearlez at 1:57 PM on April 28, 2005

There is no such thing as a place where "you KNOW your kids can't get to" a gun. That's a nice fictional idea, but incredibly, ridiculously, dangerously, idiotically FALSE.
posted by crapulent at 2:01 PM on April 28, 2005

Chalk me up as another gun owner saying it's your house, and they're your rules. Were I in your position, I'd probably cooperate -- no ammo in the house, guns in locked cases or, better, in a gun safe.
posted by waldo at 2:05 PM on April 28, 2005

I know someone who stored his father's guns in his safety deposit box at the bank. That could be another option.
posted by crapulent at 2:09 PM on April 28, 2005

I'm going with a different route. Find a better solution. Compromise.

My father-in-law, who recently became ill,
...Think about it. Here's a man, who has been independent, having his son in law tell him that he can't have something he believes in.

This could be a question of/about his ego; please, please, please, find a way to compromise - for example, trigger locks, separate the bullets (somewhere high & hidden). With the guns somewhere else. If he gives you the rhetoric about 'protection', explain to him about the amount of breakins in your house. Zero.

If he just 'shoots' have them stored at the range.

A sick family member who is feeling his age, already is having his ego deflated.
posted by filmgeek at 2:10 PM on April 28, 2005

phearlez, awesome answer. You are absolutely right. He has had to leave his home, his job, his friends. He is weak from radiation and chemo and a gruelling move.

I know he will be completely reasonable in a few days when he catches up on his rest, can keep some food down, and gets a little more settled.
posted by whatnot at 2:13 PM on April 28, 2005

why can't we just instill those same ideals in our boys? I have no idea how to refute that one

One way would be to use those ideals. If there's nothing in the house to shoot with a rifle then there's no reason for the rifle to be there, and it's not like you're going to use a 30-06 for home defense. Simple extension of "Don't point a gun at anything you don't want to put holes in."

The pistol, if needs be, you could keep in a locked box in a locked safe, iterated as needed.

Or you could lie to him. "Dad, I know you're safe with guns, and I know how you brought me up to be safe with them. I never wanted to admit this to you, but [insert plausible but false story about playing with gun as a child with chilling details as appropriate]. So I hope you'll understand that I really don't want any firearms in the house -- I know how good a job you did raising me, and *I* broke the rules, and we both know that my kids are way more headstrong than I ever was, so it just wouldn't be safe."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:27 PM on April 28, 2005

C'mon guys, we have a sick old man, a responsible life-long gun owner, who is already feeling humiliated and emasculated by having to move in with his child. Can't we throw him a bone and keep the little ones safe as well?

I would just buy a gun safe, put it in the garage, move the guns there--then bring the subject up with dad. After that, play it by ear. If he continues weak and unwell, the safe may never be opened.

But if he gets better, and starts taking the guns out and doing whatever gun owners do with guns, then it is time to bring up the issue again, after he is over the shock of moving and has felt the huge love you guys have going for him. If part of your daily routine includes checking that the safe is locked with all the guns present, it seems pretty safe.
posted by LarryC at 2:51 PM on April 28, 2005

If Dad is so stubborn, then make it a two-pronged approach. The gun safe, trigger locks, and ammo safe are mandatory; followed by Dad taking this as an opportunity to teach the grandkids (and son-in-law) about gun safety and respect.

I think this is truly the "middle way" where everybody wins: you guys get security, dad gets some comforts, and everybody learns some gun safety and grandfatherly bonding. That's hard to argue with.

Frankly, this is the way all gun-owners should live (as other posters have illustrated). Just growing up around guns isn't the trick, it's growing up around respect for guns.

Kudos to all, by the way, for being so rational and intelligent on such a hotbutton issue.

...steps down from soapbox...
posted by MrZero at 2:54 PM on April 28, 2005

For what it's worth, a locked gun case is no match for a couple determined young boys. I lost one of my closest friends because of that particular delusion.
posted by waxpancake at 2:55 PM on April 28, 2005

It's your house. You need to decide. If you don't feel that you or your kids are safe around guns, put your foot down and have the guns out of the house.

There can be no compromise, especially where kids and guns are involved. Kids either are trained how to deal with guns - respect them, know how they are operated, know that they are not to be touched without an adult around - or they are not so trained. You're not qualified to train your kids, because the guns frighten you. Your father-in-law would probably like to train your kids, but it's not fair to the kids to send them that kind of mixed message. Bottom line: if the kids get in a gun accident, your compromise will not save them from a fatal wound.

As for father-in-law: he gets to dictate what goes on in the household of which he's head. That's not your house. Trying to shield his ego from this reality isn't safe for your kids, it's unhappy for you, and unless he's insane he almost certainly knows better.

Show him this reply, if you like, and tell him it's from a board-certified physician and lifetime NRA member.
posted by ikkyu2 at 3:00 PM on April 28, 2005

By the way, I'd second the motion that you can't lock away a gun anywhere a bright kid wouldn't be able to get to it. And kids will be interested in guns; that's a by-product of our entertainment industry, for better or worse.
posted by ikkyu2 at 3:09 PM on April 28, 2005

This isn't exactly on topic, but maybe the info will help ease your fears about your children's safety. The NRA has a program called Eddie Eagle Gun Safe to teach children about gun safety, which essentially boils down to:

If you see a gun:
Don't Touch.
Leave the Area.
Tell an Adult.

Since guns can be such an emotional issue, perhaps a way to approach the issue with your dad is something like this. "The house is full of things that can harm kids--electric sockets, kitchen stoves, etc. We teach the kids to respect these things but we also do what we can to minimize the risks (not leaving stove burners unattended, etc). Guns are no different. The boys can learn about gun safety, but you must make sure that the guns are always in a locked gun cabinet/stored off-site when you are not handling them."

FWIW--I am not a gun owner, nor an NRA member.
posted by luneray at 3:17 PM on April 28, 2005

I love guns. I have a carry permit. I'm a life member of the NRA .

There is no way I would have unsecured firearms in my home. My youngest son is 21 and all my firearms are stored in a gun safe.

I didn't feel comfortable having guns in my home until my two sons were in their late teens.

At the very minimum I would insist that the firearms be stored in a LOCKED gun safe. I don't mean one of the tin can types either. It would have to be a substantial one.
posted by Carbolic at 3:40 PM on April 28, 2005

Perhaps after the initial opening words, and Dad's reaction (for, against, questioning, strong, weak, whatever), it may be appropriate (depends on his reaction and how you feel, of course) to re-emphasize that your concern is with your kids, rather than being anti-gun. And one way to do that is to suggest that when each of the kids gets to an appropriate age (10? 12?), that Dad help teach them gun safety and target-shooting on a range. (And, of course, there still won't be any guns in the house, or, if there are, well locked-up in a safe - the house rule doesn't change just because the kids know safety rules and have done target practice.)
posted by WestCoaster at 3:55 PM on April 28, 2005

It's a parent's job to protect their children. If you are worried about guns in the house, then get them out of there. You have no reason to feel bad about that. Your in-law might not understand but he should. It's your call not his. He got to raise his son the way he wanted to, and you get to raise your kids the way you want to.
posted by pwb503 at 4:10 PM on April 28, 2005

In the meantime, I have put the rifle high (the pistol is still in the truck) and hidden all the ammo, since I am the one doing most of his unpacking. Thank you all so much for your thoughtful answers.

I know he will be completely reasonable in a few days when he catches up on his rest, can keep some food down, and gets a little more settled.

whatnot, if it's the case that you are doing most of the unpacking, is it feasible to just move the guns to a location you are comfortable with for the time being, until you all can have this conversation? Would he even notice that the guns are not at hand?

Idea that just came to me; do you have an attic space that your kids would never get to (in my house, my attic space doesn't have stairs or a ladder, I would have to drag the ladder into the house to get into it)?
posted by vignettist at 4:31 PM on April 28, 2005

Expect confrontation. Remain resolute.

This is one of the few AskMe threads about a controversial subject that has had such a unanimous answer, from both sides of the spectrum.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:05 PM on April 28, 2005

Just as a point of comparison: my 89-year-old father has been more and more confined to the house since a severe stroke. One of his few pleasures was going out driving. My brother (who lives with him) got his license revoked, even though he hadn't had any accidents and was sure he was a safe driver; I would have done the same had I been there, even though I love my dad and regret that not being able to drive makes his life more difficult. Why? Because he could kill somebody in that car, old people do it all the time (and they're all sure they're safe drivers), and how can you value your father's comfort over somebody else's life?

Be tactful, be loving, but be firm.
posted by languagehat at 6:25 PM on April 28, 2005

My house, my rules. End of story. Safety of children is paramount. What is the first reaction of a child to "Don't touch that?" Please.

That said, arrange for storage at the local gun club.

And seriously, to echo what has been said above... what does a Buddhist need with guns?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:06 PM on April 28, 2005

The only problem I have is the suggestions for the garage. Big, random locked safe in the garage that we're not allowed to touch. OH MY does that scream of, "I MUST FIND OUT WHAT IS INSIDE THERE!!!" Even if you tell the boys what is going on with the safe, it still gives off an illusion of, "Wow, guns- stay away or else the boogie man will get you!" The more you try to prevent a kid from getting something, the more it can pique their interest. I would say either store in plain sight in the safe or off-site completely where the kids have no access to them.
posted by jmd82 at 9:43 PM on April 28, 2005

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