Husband left loaded handgun laying around, WWYD? - Mothering Forums
Family Safety > Husband left loaded handgun laying around, WWYD?
cynthiag's Avatar cynthiag 04:14 PM 02-09-2013

My husband is a relatively new gun owner (within the past year). He has taken gun safety classes and got his concealed carry permit. He prides himself on being very careful with his guns (he has two). Today he wore his gun on an outing, and then when he came home, he took it off and put it beside the television. I don't think he's ever done that before. Many hours later, I saw it sitting there. I asked him, "What is that doing there?" and because of his angle he couldn't see what I was pointing at and didn't know what I was talking about. I picked it up (holding it facing down) and he JUMPED up and exclaimed that he forgot he put it there. He apologized profusely. We have two children ages 7 and 9 who could have easily found it before I did. They know gun safety and I don't believe they would have touched it and would have immediately told us about it, but I don't think that's a good enough reason to excuse leaving it laying around. If I hadn't found it, how long would it have sat there? Until my sister came over with her toddler son, who could have reached it?

I'm at a loss what to do. I've been ambivalent about the whole gun ownership and gun carrying thing. I was raised with guns in the house and I know how to use one, but I still feel like accidents happen and it just doesn't seem worth it when we aren't in any threatening situation. I want to ask my friends and family for advice like I usually do, but I'm afraid they won't feel safe in my house, or won't let their kids come over anymore.  

I didn't say much to my husband because I felt like I should think about it before I responded. Should I tell him to get rid of the guns? Should I tell him not to take it out of the safe unless he's going to use it, and to stop carrying it? He'll do what I say if I insist, but he won't like it. Is it worth it, to protect my family, to potentially damage my marriage by insisting on this? Or am I overreacting? He said, "I don't take away your car when you crash into somebody." (I rear-ended someone last week, no damage to either vehicle.) That's true, anyone can make a mistake, but how many mistakes are you allowed to make with loaded handguns??



Banana731's Avatar Banana731 04:53 PM 02-09-2013
That was incredibly careless.

I would insist that unload it immediately upon coming in the house, and put in the safe. I think that's more than reasonable. If he forgets even once, bye bye guns. Honestly, you are within your rights to ask him to remove them now. No highly unlikely imaginary secanario where he saves the life of his family from a crazed gun man breaking in to your home is worth the very real possibility that a toddler will be harmed by your dh's very real negligence. Do you know how highly unlikely it is that anyone (unless he is an extensively trained FBI agent or service member, and even that is questionable!) would even be able to hit a target in a high stress situation?

I'm not anti-gun, but I find most people's motivation for carrying them to be misguided an poorly thought out.

Pa left always kept his gun loaded. (That family lived in some wild and dangerous places.) But the first thing he did when he came home was put that gun on the pegs above the door, where little girls could not reach it. Common sense.
erinmattsmom88 05:10 PM 02-09-2013

I'm sure he feels awful. Don't exacerbate that. He knows he made a mistake, BUT, you both have to come together and come up with some plan so that this will NEVER happen again.


erinmattsmom88 05:22 PM 02-09-2013

Woops, missed the WWYD part. I'm not sure why you all have your guns. We have one and it is for protection of our family and home. If this happened to me, I would insist on being informed of the constant whereabouts of the gun when it is removed from where it, for lack of a better word, sleeps, and would insist on being checked with when it is removed 100% of the time so that I know and can check with him when he returns home to remind him to put it away immediately. I would be a total PITA about it and would not care if DH got annoyed with me. Too bad. The situation has already happened once so you all need to make sure it doesn't happen again and do whatever you need to to ensure that. If DH becomes careless again, he is not being a responsible gun owner and should not have one, let alone two.


greenemami's Avatar greenemami 08:58 PM 02-09-2013

I would be absolutely furious and would probably insist that the gun no longer come into the house until it was unloaded, period.  (For reference, I have put my foot down about having guns in the house at all, so I would react really strongly to this, no doubt.)


philomom's Avatar philomom 10:01 PM 02-09-2013
Loaded guns are not okay. Gun should be put/locked away and ammo should be stored in a separate place. Some guns come apart easily rendering them useless. My dad always stored his guns slightly dismantled, just in case one of our friends got too curious, the worst could never happen.


Have a heart to heart, eye to eye talk with your hubby. If he forgets again, you may need to insist for the children's sake that he give up on gun ownership. It's not for everyone!
MamaInTheDesert's Avatar MamaInTheDesert 01:14 AM 02-10-2013
I would have been livid. My own rule is that before a gun is purchased by a member of this household, that a safe is purchased first. Additionally, I don't even want them in the house. We have a detached garage the safe would stay in.
MamaJenese's Avatar MamaJenese 05:50 AM 02-10-2013

the gone should have been unloaded before he even entered the house as ar as I am concerned. Also the first stop after walking in the door should have been the gun safe. If he can't handle that he can't have a gun.


VocalMinority's Avatar VocalMinority 07:11 AM 02-10-2013

I'd want the gun - all guns - gone.  The crux of the problem is that your husband didn't consciously leave the gun lying around.  Had he consciously thought, "It's safe for me to leave this beside the TV.  I'm going to be in here watching it and, besides, my kids know not to touch it," then you could probably have a conversation, or send him to another safety class, and convince him to think (and therefore behave) more carefully.  Instead, his behavior indicates a subconscious potential to get distracted from gun safety.  

 

For example, more than likely, you and your husband can trust yourselves to take your children somewhere and not forget them.  Subconsciously, you are so constantly aware of them that - unless you had a stroke or were on some medication that fogged your brain - it is 100% impossible that one of you would take the kids to the grocery; let them run and grab a treat from the bakery while you're in line to pay; then - if they took too long getting back to you - you might drive off without them, because you forgot they were with you.  You are simply too meticulously conscious of their existence for that to happen.  Some people are like that, about their guns.  What has just become evident is that your husband isn't.  

 

This isn't a criticism of him and certainly not a reason for you to be angry with him (if you felt that way).  He's done the right things:  safety courses for himself and the kids; and when he realized he'd left his gun lying around, he knew he shouldn't have.  He means to be careful and responsible.  His head and heart are in the right place.

 

Another example:  I let my husband write our mortgage checks, because I know of myself that - despite my best intentions - sometimes I will get distracted and send it late.  Despite your husband's best intentions, he is capable of getting distracted and neither emptying his gun (which he should always do, in a house with children) nor putting it and the ammo in a safe place, before moving on to his next activity.  His gun does not occupy the same unforgettable spot in his subconscious that, presumably, his kids do.  One could argue that this is because he's a new gun owner.  However, some people would be especially aware of where their gun is at all times, precisely because it's new.

 

Unlike a single late mortgage payment, a single careless mistake with gun safety has the potential to end the world as you (and everyone close to you) know it, forever.

 

If you decide to tell him you want to get rid of the gun, I'd focus on telling him what he's done right (that he's a great father and you know how much he cares about the kids; that he's taken all the responsible steps to be safe with a gun in the house), but this incident has made you realize that, despite every effort to be responsible, there can still be an occasional slip-up and you just can't live with even the remote possibility of an accident involving your kids (or anyone else's).  It's just too big a risk.  If he gets irritated and acts like you're being hysterical or unreasonable, let him.  As long as he gets rid of the gun (at least until your kids are grown and gone), if it makes him feel better - or less emasculated - to tell himself there was no reason for it, he's just trying to get along with his crazy wife, that won't kill you.


brigala's Avatar brigala 05:37 PM 02-10-2013

That's a tough one.

 

If it were MY husband, and I absolutely can't imagine him doing something like that, I would trust that he'd be mortified enough with himself that it would never happen again. I would probably approach him with a "can we agree that if something like this happens again we're going to ______?" (whatever that consequence might be). 

 

But I don't know your husband and I can't guess whether giving him a second chance is a safe gamble or not. Maybe he can agree to carry it unloaded for a while until putting it in the safe when he walks through the door becomes so habitual that there's just no chance he'd do something else. The gun should not come off his body until he's standing in front of his open gun safe ready to put it in. If he walks in the door and can't put it away immediately, he needs to leave it in the holster attached to his body where it can't fall into little hands.

 

I asked my DH about this one and he thinks maybe a "one more strike and you're out" policy might be a good idea if you feel he can be trusted to have learned his lesson from this one. He also suggested making sure the safe or lock-box is conveniently located enough that it takes away the temptation to set the gun down and move it to the safe "in a minute." If he had to dig through all the stuff to get to our well-hidden gun safe every time he walked in the door, that would be a problem. But he doesn't carry on a regular basis (although he does have his CHL). 

 

Good luck. That would have freaked me out, too. I'm glad you found the gun first. 


cynthiag's Avatar cynthiag 07:37 PM 02-10-2013

Thank you for your replies.  

 

We had a serious talk about it and he has promised me that the gun will always either be on his person or in the safe, and nowhere else.  He agreed that if he has another lapse, the guns are gone.  We are also going to have another "gun safety" talk with the kids to make absolutely sure they know what to do if they see a gun in our house or anywhere else.  

 

I appreciate your input.  I wanted to make sure I wasn't over- or under-reacting.  


elus0814's Avatar elus0814 12:25 PM 02-11-2013

Sounds like a reasonable solution. It sounds like he's fully aware of the fact that it shouldn't have been left out and will now be more careful. I wouldn't keep bringing it up for come up with 'punishments' if it happens again. Your kids are old enough to stay away from it and let you know if they see it out. If there were toddlers in the house it would be a different thing but I wouldn't be overly concerned at this point.


Caneel's Avatar Caneel 11:02 AM 02-19-2013

Quote:

Originally Posted by VocalMinority View Post

......... Instead, his behavior indicates a subconscious potential to get distracted from gun safety.

 

For example, more than likely, you and your husband can trust yourselves to take your children somewhere and not forget them. Subconsciously, you are so constantly aware of them that - unless you had a stroke or were on some medication that fogged your brain - it is 100% impossible that one of you would take the kids to the grocery; let them run and grab a treat from the bakery while you're in line to pay; then - if they took too long getting back to you - you might drive off without them, because you forgot they were with you. You are simply too meticulously conscious of their existence for that to happen. Some people are like that, about their guns. What has just become evident is that your husband isn't.

 

 

 

I come from a family and background with a very strong gun culture.  I could not have said it better than VocalMinority did above.  Even before I finished the OP, my thoughts were running to "OMG! you NEVER lay a gun down..." 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cynthiag View Post

Thank you for your replies.  

 

We had a serious talk about it and he has promised me that the gun will always either be on his person or in the safe, and nowhere else.  He agreed that if he has another lapse, the guns are gone.  We are also going to have another "gun safety" talk with the kids to make absolutely sure they know what to do if they see a gun in our house or anywhere else.  

 

I appreciate your input.  I wanted to make sure I wasn't over- or under-reacting.  

 

I am glad to hear you two are on the same page.  Securing it when not on his body needs to be his first action every single time.

 

Concerning the kids, the NRA has a good set of literature for kids.  It is based on a eagle teaching kids about gun safety.  We picked ours up at a country fair but I suspect you could get them from local police or from the NRA.  They made a huge impression on our son. 


justmama's Avatar justmama 04:51 PM 02-19-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by cynthiag View Post

Thank you for your replies.  

 

We had a serious talk about it and he has promised me that the gun will always either be on his person or in the safe, and nowhere else.  He agreed that if he has another lapse, the guns are gone.  We are also going to have another "gun safety" talk with the kids to make absolutely sure they know what to do if they see a gun in our house or anywhere else.  

 

I appreciate your input.  I wanted to make sure I wasn't over- or under-reacting.  

That's wonderful.  I think you both handled it quite well.  You didn't react improperly at all.  Gun safety is no joking matter.  My kids know gun safety as well but their father has two handguns and he and I agreed when he purchased them that they would never leave the safe unless he was going shooting.  They would remain in the safe unloaded with the safety on and no one but him would know the combination.  Accidents happen.  People make mistakes.  But it only takes a second for a kid to make a fatal mistake with a gun, no matter how versed in gun safety they are.  I'm really glad your husband is taking this mistake of his seriously.  That shows love and concern for you and the kids.


PoppyMama's Avatar PoppyMama 05:47 PM 02-23-2013

You mentioned that you wanted to ask your families opinion but didn't want them to feel uncomfortable about being in your house or unwilling to allow their kids in your house but isn't that a choice they have a right to make considering your dh is doing something that raises their risk?


Alenushka's Avatar Alenushka 06:11 PM 02-23-2013

Another lapse? Seriously? What if a visiting kid gets shot by your kid?  I can tell you one thing, if my child was shot because someone's husband can't grasp the idea of gun safety, I would press charges and sure for wrongful death. In fact, I would not rests, until the entire world knew what he has done.

 

One lapse is plenty


lovepickles's Avatar lovepickles 12:02 AM 02-26-2013

I'm glad you had a talk and came to an agreement. But I also live with a man who is often thinking about something else and sets something down for just a second thinking he'll come back to it and then he forgets all about it until he needs the item again. Thankfully he's only losing his keys or phone ... not a gun.

 

But I would say that knowing your husband is capable of doing this that he needs to get the guns out of the home. If he shoots at a club have him rent a locker and leave the weapon there. The expense and hassle is worth not having and accident. My husband will never change and I accept his limitations and work around them with some lifestyle changes.


LLQ1011's Avatar LLQ1011 12:19 AM 02-26-2013

My FIL has a lot of guns and I am glad I know about it and as long as they are there I do not want my son alone there. He is elderly and only has sight in one eye. I think you should let family know that you have guns in your home.
 


econant's Avatar econant 09:24 AM 03-04-2013
Cynthia I'm so glad you brought this up. The same thing happened in our household last week. My husband left this handgun on the edge of bathroom counter, easily accessible by our very mobile 15 month old. I'm at a loss and more terrified by his carelessness than the possibility of a situation that would force us to defend our home. Oh, and this is the 2nd time he's left it in arms reach of our toddler. He apologized for leaving it out but seemed annoyed that I even brought it up. His indifference mortifies me. The suggestions on here are great I just hope they work for us.
Lazurii's Avatar Lazurii 04:31 PM 03-24-2013

I grew up around guns, and often those guns were loaded and in the reach of children.

 

My siblings and I never, never, NEVER touched those guns.  If another family came over my father would move the guns (because, like a PP said, he was constantly aware of his guns).  But we were taught from birth the correct way to handle guns.  My father would take us out shooting at young ages, 3, 4, 5 years old, so we would understand the power of a gun.  He never sugar coated anything, he never romatisized it.  Always presume a gun is loaded.  Never touch the trigger.  Never cock the hammer.  Check the chamber.  Check the chamber, and still assume it's loaded.  Never point at anything you don't want to shoot, even with a presumably unloaded gun, because ALL GUNS ARE LOADED.

 

That being said, I would never leave a loaded gun in the reach of children.  But we own guns, and my kids understand they don't touch them.  I believe that if guns are in your home your kids need to understand what that means.  And your DH needs to know where his gun is.


Katie8681's Avatar Katie8681 06:36 PM 03-24-2013
I feel so strongly about this. I couldn't not post. One lapse would be more than enough for me to absolutely insist on the guns being gone. I would walk out over this issue. The gun or your family, one's going, you choose. He was incredibly irresponsible.
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