International readers, you may want to skip this post as this question is uniquely relevant to United States culture.
We don’t own guns, but we live in an area where many people do. I thought I had more time to consider this issue, but one of my child’s preschool friends recently “shot” at me with a finger gun — “I am shooting you” — and I realized that the gun issue is coming sooner than I realized. My son so far seems pretty oblivious, but not for long.
My son’s friend’s mother has also invited my son to a play date, and this is somebody with whom I would generally feel comfortable leaving my son alone without me there… yet I now find myself wondering: are there guns in the house? If so, how secure are they? I have no idea as to what would be the most appropriate way to ask the boy’s mother, and I certainly don’t want to imply a critique of gun ownership (an issue I believe is very complex). I also feel that I need to prepare my son for a situation in which a play friend might know where the family gun is — and go get it — without completely freaking my son out OR making guns seem super interesting.
My question is three-fold:
What limits have your families set for toy/pretend guns, how are you communicating the potential dangers of real guns, and how do you bring up the topic of gun and weapon safety with the parents of your kid’s friends?