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So, I'm curious to hear how the hivemind has handled discussions about guns with preschoolers.  The little man (now 4) is a robust consumer of kid-related pop culture and is also in daycare with 25 or so other similar consumers, so he's seen a lot of cartoon weapons (how sad is that?) and a great deal of his time is spent exploring power, differentiating between good guys and bad guys, determining who goes to jail, and playacting weapons and particularly guns.  Both at home and at school the adults in his life are very very proactive about intervening with play violence, doing things like talking out problems, using one's power to be kind and generous, how there are aren't good and bad people but rather good and bad choices, and that it's not fun to pretend to hurt people or pretend to use guns.  We do all that, but still the exploration continues, and still we continue to talk about how books or movies or games involving guns are not right for our family, etc.  We know it's a process.

Unbeknownst (until last night) to the little man, our geographic area has had three or four terrible incidents in the last month where kids have been accidentally shot by other kids or have shot themselves (the oldest being 8, two being under 5) with guns that were left unattended in their reach.  Two kids were shot fatally, and one was just 3.  It's been heartbreaking as a parent to watch the fallout from this, to hear about the incidents, and to witness the statements made by the adults, all parents, who inadvertently made the guns available.  It's the kind of thing that makes me want to interrogate anyone whose home my kid might go into about whether they have a gun, and if so where they keep it and I want to see it locked up separately from the bullets with my own eyes.

So I want to know how you all deal with the seemingly unending redirection about guns at this age, and when it stops, if ever, and what's been successful.  Because last night after a long monologue from the little man about some sort of imaginary conflict involving guns, and yet another negotiating "but mom, I only shooted bad guys!" I had had it and said "the reason I am so upset about guns is that they really hurt people.  Last week a gun shot a kid because he wasn't being safe with it, and the adults around him weren't keeping him safe, and he was really hurt and he died, and I feel really sad for that kid and his family."  Which led to a million questions about "do we know that kid?" (no, but we still feel sad) "how old was that kid?  was he a baby?" (he was 3) "why did he not know to be safe?" (because he was too young and maybe the adults around him didn't make sure he was safe) "how do you shoot a gun?  Is there a button?" (no, there is a trigger, and I showed him with my hand where on a gun it is and told him never ever to touch a gun because it could go off, though, terrifyingly I don't know if he actually would recognize one in real life)  "did it really happen?  It wasn't a story?" (no, it wasn't a story.  It really happened.) and, most heartbreakingly "even though he wasn't safe, we still love that kid." (we do love him, and it wasn't his fault, because the adults around him did not keep him safe). 

This morning the little man's waking words were "was that story about the kid and the gun real?  I feel scared about that kid." and then he told the whole story about the kid to the life duet, and then to each of his teachers at school.  He's very serious about it, and about talking about how if he sees a gun he will tell a trusted adult right away.  I'm kind of worried it was too much, but I really was at the end of my rope with all the kidding around and the negotiating about a gun that shoots ice cream or only shooting bad guys or whatever, and I felt like he just wasn't hearing how serious I was.

So, hivemind, if you think I scarred him, please gently advise on how to deal with it, and if you have thoughts about how to reinforce nonviolence and no gun play in a way that he will understand, that would be awesome.  And if I'm going to be having these conversations until he's an adult, I guess tell me that too so I can prepare myself.  Sigh.

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I think there are a lot of ways to explain crime rates and correlative gun ownership.


In the case of where I live, which is an urban area with relatively low crime and where much of the gun violence happens by way of handguns in suburban or rural areas, the people currently making the news are sadly not as smart or careful as your dad was.

This is very true, kommish. I'm of the opinion that if you buy a gun, you should have to pass a written safety test and a shooting safety test at a range. We have to do that for cars. 

Crime is Chicago is not skyrocketing.  Although higher than it should be, violent crime has been steadily decreasing.  And the murder rate is the lowest in 40 years.  

We have had to deal with this issue recently, and maybe should have sooner. My younger son started hanging out with a family down the street that were great, but the dad open carries. I live in Virginia so I don't know why this hasn't been something I had considered talking to them about. Well, I called my mom friend who is a military MP and she told me the questions to ask -- are the guns secured, how, etc. I am not a gun person so I don't know what actually equals gun safety. So I talked to the dad about the guns and he is also in the army and had a very seemingly reasonable plan for keeping the guns away from his kids and any visiting kids. Locks, safes, etc. He said either the gun was on his hip or in the safe. Okay, got it. Then one day, when I was over there, the dad was sitting at the dinner table and the gun came out of the holster and onto the table. I think it was uncomfortable sitting there with it on. And I was thinking.... holy crap, there is a gun on the table! But he was right there. Then he got up and left the gun on the table and went to the bathroom. We politely left and my son was told never to go in their house again. So, in summary.... I'm frickin scared of guns in peoples houses. This family had all the rules in the place but even a minor lapse can have such a horrific consequence. I'm still not sure how to keep my son (who also is his own worst enemy and would be the kid that picked up the unattended gun)... safe.

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