Guns in the House

Parent Q&A

  • Conflicts about gun ownership

    (14 replies)

    Hi, I would like to know some perspectives about gun ownership in a household where one partner wants to buy a gun, but the other does not. I am watching a friend go through this in her marriage, where her husband feels increasingly unsafe in these times and intends on buying a gun (and I believe he will go through with it, so it's not just a what-if conversation). She is staunchly opposed to having a gun in the house. I find it's not helpful for me to  simply echo her sentiments (because I agree with her) but to actually see if there are ways to look at this issue beyond the knee-jerk reactions that cause very emotionally heated conflicts. If you ever had this conflict in your own relationship, did you manage to resolve it and how? I am sure there are healthy partnerships out there where one person does not like the idea of guns in the house, but the other person happens to be/became a gun owner. What are some actual ways to approach this that won't always end up in a knockdown drag-out fight? What are some healthy baseline agreements people on opposite sides can come to, knowing that in the end, only one person can realistically get what they want (i.e., own a gun, or not)? Thanks!

    I had never been exposed to firearms until I met my husband of 20 years. He grew up in West Texas surrounded by firearms. As a matter of fact, he received his first firearm for his 3rd birthday. While I was very reluctant to have any firearms in our house, I came to terms with the fact that he is an experienced gun owner and isn't buying guns only for home protection or otherwise. He abides by all state and locals laws regarding registration and safety and I trust him implicitly. I think if someone is buying a firearm and doesn't have a long history of exposure and they're doing it only for home protection, it is not a good idea. That's when accidents happen.

    For any conflict it can help for each person to write down, and then share, what their major concerns are in a concrete way. Drop the emotional rhetoric and get down to specifics. In this case specifically, is the pro-gun party willing to get formal training and to adhere to laws about gun storage (in the case of children coming to the house)? Does he have a plan to gain proficiency by attending a firing range or does he think he's just going to brandish it at an intruder? Does he have a history of impulsive or careless behavior that would make his partner nervous about him having a weapon? Does she have a bad prior experience involving guns? Is she worried that intruders will gain control of their gun and use it against them or that he will talk about the gun carelessly and potentially make their home a break-in target (since guns are a popular items in burglaries)? Are there statistics or trends that would make him feel safe enough to drop the idea? Do they live in a neighborhood with violent crime? Have they discussed, at length, how they would handle a break-in or other potentially violent conflict with or without a gun?

    They should discuss all these specifics if they haven't, otherwise it's just an emotional argument that only one person (or no one) can win. If they can discuss the concrete issues around gun ownership, they will still end up wither getting a gun or not but may avoid feeling like one of them "lost."

    FWIW, I grew up in a house with guns because my father is a former hunter and avid target shooter. They were always locked up. I wasn't crazy about my husband getting a gun but he is sensible about it and, other than once in a blue moon when he goes target shooting, I don't see or think about it. Our child has never seen it and can't access it. I consider a car far more dangerous in terms of practical safety hazards, but I understand the negative emotional impact of a gun, especially if a person has only seen them in the context of crime/war in the news.

    Hello there. This world is becoming increasingly unsafe, but a question to ask is in what situation would having a gun make them feel more safe? When would they even have it available to protect them? Is protection against home invasion? Used to threaten ruckus outside your house? Events of riots/looting? What event would cause you to actually bring it out/use it? Do they have/will have kids? How are they going to keep them safe from gun accidents? They need to think though and answer these questions. Then on the other side, instead of the knee jerk NO for gun ownership, perhaps they can go to a gun store AND gun range together to learn about them and how to use one properly. This will offer some more perspective so that if she is still against gun ownership for their household, at least it’s not a blind decision. Good luck!

Archived Q&A and Reviews

April 2003

I inadvertantly inherited a number of guns (two revolvers and a rifle) when we sold my father's house. I would like them out of my house ASAP (I don't have any bullets, but I can't stand having even the unloaded guns around), but I don't know exactly what to do with them. I believe you can take guns to a police department to have them destroyed. First, though, I would like to make sure they are not of significant value. Does anyone have recommendations about local gun stores? I looked in the yellow pages and found listings for a number of stores, but I don't know a thing about any of them. Also, is it a problem if the guns are not registered? I do not know for sure that these guns are unregistered, but they have been sitting around for quite a while and I suspect that they are not.
Got to get rid of the guns!

[Editor] Four people recommended taking the guns to the Old West Gun Room. See

I appreciate that you do not want guns in your house. If you feel strongly about the level of violence in our society, I would suggest that you have the revolvers destroyed, even if they are ''worth something.'' Revolvers are made to kill or wound people, period. Ultimately these revolvers could end up in the hands of a killer (whether a ''criminal'' killer or just a ''self-defense'' killer). A rifle is a slightly different case; it can be used in hunting. Whether you approve of hunting or not could have an impact on what you decide to do with the rifle. But in your shoes, I would take the revolvers to the police and have them destroyed.
pro-everybody's kids, anti-gun

While I have my strong philosophical differences with them I have found no group that gives better advice about guns than the National Rifle Assn (707) 748-7900 Benicia, CA or National Rifle Assn (916) 446-2455 Sacto. You might want to call them and see if there is anyone local that they can recc. to appraise the guns to see if they have collector value. They would also know best how to dispose of them. Another thought on the same line is that NRA folks, while VERY conservative politically are VERY responsible with their guns.

As such if I owned a gun I didn't want I'd rather see some responsible hobbyist buy it rather than have it go to a shop where it could sold to someone who might be less responsible. jon

Thank you for your admirable conscience to rid yourself of the guns you inherited. I'd call the local police department and have someone come by and pick them up, rather than take them somewhere, even to a shop to have them appraised. We can thank people like actor Sean Penn for leaving guns in their car for even a short period of time and they end up stolen and in criminal hands, threatening us all. (It happened in Berkeley) Again, thanks for your wisdom. Tim

If I ever had to do anything with guns (can't imagine what), I would go to the Old West Gun Room ...

But there is the issue of whether any gun, of value or not, should be kept in circulation, even though 3 guns are not going to make or break the difference in crime and violence. If you take it to the police, it doesn't matter if it is registered or not.

The same inheritance happened to us, and we solved it by going to our local police department. I would recommend calling the police non-emergency number in your city and asking them if you can walk it in (in a paper bag). The officer I dealt with first checked to make sure there were no bullets lodged in the chamber, then put a plastic tag so no bullets could go in. He then suggested trying to sell it to the local gun shop in el cerrito (right below the revamped plaza). Pretty funny: he said he didn't want to smelt it since it was a collectible. We didn't have to worry about it not being registered, given the inheritance circumstances. I ended up giving it to a responsible friend who collects such things, and am very happy to get it out of our lives. good luck! no gun household

First of all, you do not have to register guns in CA so do not worry about that. You have to have a background check when you buy one but you do not have to register them. But regardless, I agree that you should get them out of your house for a lot of reasons, mainly that they make you uncomfortable. Most police departments have discontinued their buy back programs b/c federal funds have been cut off for this. I wouldn't go that route anyway b/c some antique guns are illegal under local ordinances and you do not want the headache in case one of your guns is banned. Besides, your guns may be worth money! I would go to the Old West Gun Room in El Cerrito ....