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These days, it's hard to sit in a café without someone
loudly voicing their opinion on gun control two tables down. Whether you're
backing the protestors in Oregon or angrily pulling up photos of Sandy Hook
children, everyone seems to have strong thoughts on firearms.
My husband and I are no exception. The problem is, we
When I was growing up, I was familiar with guns—maybe not
the details, but the general idea. We lived in Wisconsin, where hunting is a beloved pastime that people used for both enjoyment and sustenance. My dad and brothers hunted, so for me, guns
were always equated with weekends away up north, from where they'd return with,
hopefully, a cooler full of meat. Jerky, stew and various burgers would pop up
over the next year—a much more humane way of eating
meat than chicken from some factory farm. Hunting has never bothered me.
My first introduction to the idea of a gun for non-hunting
purposes was taking my then-boyfriend/now-husband to a virtual shooting range
for a birthday gift. The exercise involved shooting predators in a dark parking
lot, and you had to make a snap decision about whether it was an innocent
grandma or a lean, mean, killing-machine burglar.
The chances of a burglar breaking in are miniscule. Even if one did, would our response in a time of panic be to grab a gun? Should it be?
I only got a 60 percent, which, while hilarious at the time, would
translate into real-life me being a grandma murderer in a parking lot had tho snot been an exercise in fun. Suddenly, not so hilarious.
My husband hails from a country in Europe that has a history
of being conquered and, well, kind of stepped on. He's proud of his Polish heritage,
and we try to find ways to incorporate it into our very American lives. In Poland, guns were stripped from citizens by invading forces multiple
times, and so, in his mind, a government taking guns equals tyranny knocking on
I can understand why he would make that leap, and I don't judge him
at all for it. But, this May, we're expecting our first baby. We're now having some pretty major conversations about whether the gun will stay in our apartment.
The gun is small and metal and powerful looking. It just hangs out casually in my husband's bedside stand, waiting for an adventure.
Self-defense or not, his somewhat noble intentions don't
change these facts:
We live in a very safe apartment building in a middle class
suburb, where you need a key fob to both operate the front door and use the
elevator. The chances of a burglar
breaking in are miniscule. Even if one did, would our response in a time of
panic be to grab a gun? Should it be?
The gun is small and metal and powerful looking. It just
hangs out casually in my husband's bedside stand, waiting for an adventure. I've
never even touched it. My husband doesn't use it for concealed carry, mainly
because he's read enough horror stories about people being shot in the foot. Why do those stories get to him and not the stats I shove in his face about the
dangers of having a gun in the home?
"President Obama can't make restrictions on guns," my husband insists. And then, "The Constitution, remember that?" He argues the Founding Fathers
wanted us to be able to defend ourselves against corrupt governments.
"Yes, because the Founding Fathers were so familiar with assault rifles," I say. "That was clearly the
To my husband, owning the gun is more about a Constitutional right and a scenario we hope never happens.
This talk happens all too frequently in our apartment, which is beginning to overflow with footie pajamas and stuffed animals and picture books. Being around all that stuff makes me unable to picture why on earth we'd want a gun in the same house as a teeny baby. The teeny baby is why my husband can't picture why I'd want to leave a family defenseless against home intruders or a tyrannous government.
If there's one thing we've learned in marriage, however,
it's that compromise is key. So are calm, even-tempered conversations where
respectful disagreements can be translated into workable solutions. Here's ours:
Before the baby gets here, a safe with a lock will be
bought. Nobody will know the combination except us. I know that a 2-week-old
baby can't lift their own head up, let alone wander off and take a gun out of a
drawer. But having a set deadline will prevent us from procrastinating. The gun will
also not be loaded; the ammo will sit in a different space, in case curious
future little fingers find a way to get in.