I recently wrote a post concerning 2nd amendment rights and whether pediatricians should be able to ask parents of young children whether there are guns in the home. I won’t go into detail, but if you missed it, you can read it here. In a comment, a couple of fellow bloggers asked questions that I needed some time to think about before responding, so I promised to address those questions in a later post. Also, there were a few comments that, after I had time to mull it over, I wanted to respond more in depth. So this is that “later post”. (Note: by the time I finished writing this, it was well over 2,000 words. Since I generally try to keep my posts between 800-1,200 words for readability, I am splitting this into two posts.)
While I may not have realized the full extent to which any discussion of gun rights or gun regulation are a highly controversial topic, I do realize it now, and as such I will try to choose my words more carefully than in my original Glocks vs Docs post. That does not mean I have changed my stance, but I will try to express myself honestly, yet more carefully.
- “I have to ask is there anything that “counters” that tragedy in your mind (a child being killed by a careless gun owner)? Such as the story a month ago about a teenager using her father’s handgun to kill an intruder? Is that not a balance to you or is that still tragic?” (From Opinionated Man )
- My late-night, off-the-cuff remark to OM on this one was “Briefly, no, I don’t think one cancels out the other. The child is still dead, and now another person is also.” I think that even with a few days to think, to consider, I stand by my original answer. Nothing will bring that child back to life, and the teenager who killed the intruder with her father’s gun? That is yet another tragedy. Her life is forever changed. Can you imagine the effect that would have on a mind and emotions that are not yet fully developed, not fully prepared for that weight on her shoulders? It would not surprise me for that teenager to commit suicide within a matter of years, or at the very least need long-term psychiatric care. And … what if the intruder was not, in fact, an intruder? I imagine that in this case it was, but “what if”? What if it was a sibling, parent, or other family member arriving home unexpectedly? What if it was an inebriated neighbor or otherwise confused person who mistakenly got the wrong house? (I have actually had this happen more than once!). No, there are just too many variables, and as I said in the beginning, how can one cancel the other out, when the child is still dead and now another human being is also? Yes, I have been called a “bleeding hearts liberal” more times than I can count on all fingers and toes, but it is who I am, and I am okay with that.
- “I would be willing to bet that drugs and alcohol play a bigger role in harming children and teens than accidental shootings. So perhaps it would be more relevant to ask if you have “drugs and/or alcohol” in the house? Would you be okay if your pediatrician asked you that question? Would you be okay if your pediatrician “had issues” or “vilified” you as a parent if you chose to indulge in either?” (From Just Plain Ol’ Vic)
- This one is more troublesome, more difficult to answer than the others. Yes, I absolutely agree that drugs and alcohol play the biggest role in teen deaths, damage to teen’s emotional balance, destruction of families, etc. And while I hope that drugs are not a common item in most households (perhaps I am naïve?), alcohol is certainly present in a large number of households, including my own. To the question of whether I would “be okay” if a pediatrician asked if I had drugs or alcohol in my home, I am sure I would be a bit taken aback, yes. And yes, I think I would be offended. Perhaps that makes me a hypocrite, since I think it is okay for that same pediatrician to ask about guns in the home. Which could lead to a fairly in-depth discussion that neither time nor space allow for here or today.
- As to whether I would be okay if the afore-mentioned pediatrician “vilified” or “had issues” with me keeping a bottle of wine in the cabinet, I can definitely answer that no, I would not! But … that pediatrician who was asking about guns in the home was not, presumably, either vilifying or condemning, but simply asking and offering safety tips. So, if said pediatrician then asks me how much wine I drink, I would remind him that I am not, in fact, his patient and his question is out of bounds. However, if he reminded me to keep alcohol out of the reach of my toddler, I would not be offended.
(Part II to follow soon … )