Sometime last year, when my son was in second grade, he was asked an interesting question: “What does your mommy do?”
In most cases, this question is pretty basic, painless and innocuous. But in my case — as a full-time firearms writer and instructor — my answer, no matter how strategically or even delicately delivered, often creates uncomfortable reactions, concerned looks and a barrage of relentless questions.
Of course, what created even more possibility for uneasiness and misunderstanding in this situation was that I wasn’t there to answer the question. So the reply was entirely left up to my 7-year-old son. The thing is: I have never talked to him about this question or instructed him on what to say. He undoubtedly knows what I do because he sees it and hears it all the time. He has a copy of my Women’s Handgun & Self-Defense Fundamentals book in his room (and he’s attempted to read it on occasion). When I go out of town, he knows that I am likely teaching a firearms-related class. He also hears his father and me talk about guns and gear and competition and training, along with constant repetition to him (and his sisters) about respecting firearms, being safe around firearms and knowing what to do if they ever come across an unattended gun.
So … imagine the situation. My second grader was sitting in the school cafeteria at lunch, likely passing up the apple and cheese and digging through his bag for cookies or chips to devour. He was sitting with one of his best friends. And his best friend’s mom was there since parents can pop in to the school to eat lunch with their children. His friend’s mom is a stay-at-home mom (otherwise known as the household CEO and director of child development), and, simply making some basic conversation with my kiddo, she was curious to know what I did. She asked my son, “Does your mommy stay at home for her job too?” My son shook his head, “No.” Not getting the complete answer she had hoped for, she added, “So … what does your mommy do?”
My clever little boy finished the bite he was working on, looked straight at her and matter-of-factly replied, “My mommy teaches people how to be safe with guns.”
The mom instantly furrowed her brow, sat back slightly and looked at him for a moment, a bit stunned and a bit unsure. “Ohhhh,” she trailed off, likely considering the sincerity of his reply, while casually looking for another topic to discuss.
My son doesn’t remember what transpired next, but I didn’t even care. I was so proud of his response … because it was absolutely spot on.
What do I do? As a firearms writer and instructor, I do my best to help others understand safe and responsible gun ownership. It’s not my job; it’s my mission. I want people to know that they can have firearms for home protection and for defending their families and themselves. But they need to be safe. All the time — no matter what! It’s not a joke. Firearms ownership and usage shouldn’t be thought of lightly. But firearms ownership and usage are also a normal part of everyday life … even with children. Especially with children! And while some people claim that the biggest reason for NOT having guns in their homes is children, I argue that the best reason FOR having guns is my kids.
So, yes, my son is absolutely right: I teach people how to be safe with guns. And I am so excited and honored to do it. But I am even more honored and excited that he understands that … and he is willing and able to share it with others.