Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Readers Respond to Gun Ownership

DEAR READERS: So many people responded to the question about how to handle the situation when visiting a friend whose parent has a gun that I thought I would run a few of them for your review.

Gun ownership and gun safety are hot-button issues right now. Many of our nation's cities continue to be plagued by gun violence. Too often we hear stories of little children accidentally killing their siblings because they got their hands on some adult's gun.

I spoke to a friend who is a gun owner recently who talked about how views and uses of guns are dramatically different from region to region. Indeed, this is true. Often, the debate is about guns in urban settings. But in the case of the initial question, it was essentially about a child visiting a home where guns are stored and how to protect the child. Here's what some of you had to say:

DEAR HARRIETTE: If "Gun Shy" really wants to keep her kid safe around ALL guns and not just the ones her friends has, ask him to take her son and his kids to a gun range. Take the mystery out of what damage a firearm can really do, and the kids will realize it is not like in video games. There is no reset button for real people. -- Gun-wise at an Early Age, Chicago

DEAR HARRIETTE: Believe it or not, 8 years old is a great time to learn about gun safety. Check with your local Cub Scout packs. There are some very educational and entertaining safety presentations available that don't involve handling guns. -- Savvy, Racine, Wis.

DEAR HARRIETTE: Though I'm not a National Rifle Association fan, I do own guns and occasionally shoot. My additional advice to your reader would be, whether or not he or she decided to let the child go to the friend's house, consider taking a hunter's safety class. The class teaches about guns and how to handle them in a safe environment. Students learn to treat all guns as being loaded and dangerous at all times. No one has to shoot a gun, but this knowledge may save someone's life. In Michigan's hunter's safety classes, people are taught that it is NOT cool to point guns for fun and that they should be kept locked up. Gun locks and safes should be used in all gun-owning homes, and kids should not be given the combination to it/them. Parents who don't lock up their guns are negligent.

A friend equated gun safety with being a safe driver. She said, "You can't be a safe driver if you've never been taught how. So how can you be safe with or around guns if you've never been taught how? A car can be just as lethal as a gun, maybe more so." It really made me think. -- Mindful, Auburn, Mich.