Maudlin and Associates ™
Karen Maudlin
Psy.D., CPCC
Kenneth Davison
Cindy Takiguchi
Manette Galván Turner
Robert Gregory
Daniel Doebler
Trevor Simpson

"My husband is in law enforcement and carries a gun. We have two children, a 2-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy and they have never seen the gun. We have strict rules about the placement and locking of the handgun, but I'm not sure that's enough. Because guns will always be a part of our lives, I'm concerned about the safety of our children. What can we do?"

A. As I'm sure you know, unsecured handguns in the home are the leading cause of gun-related injury and death among children. While I understand your strategy of "don't show, don't tell," I'm not sure it will remain a safe gun strategy as your kids get older. On the other hand, the "show, tell, and teach" strategy doesn't always work either. I believe the best approach is to work out a strategy with your husband that can be adapted as your children get older.

  • Start by holding a parent meeting with your husband. Before your meeting, you should each jot down three acceptable gun policy options on a sheet of paper. Then, sit down together and share your ideas, giving each person a chance to give a rationale for his or her ideas without interruption. Narrow down the lists to two options and commit to pray about these options for a week. Then, meet briefly the following week and share what God has laid on your heart.

  • Review your family policy periodically. Policies that work well for pre schoolers or elementary kids often don't work for adolescents. Every two years or so, review your policy and make any necessary changes. As your children get older, bring them into the discussion to get their feedback and establish groundrules everyone can abide by.

Personally, with such young children, I would recommend securing the firearm away from your home. While this may sound extremely conservative, the reality is, if the child does not have access to a weapon, he won't be able to use it, accidentally or on purpose.

As your children reach the age when they can physically manipulate a weapon - even by accident - it's crucial that you and your husband commit to educating them on the importance of gun safety. When your children are exposed to violence, whether in a cartoon, movie, or on the evening news, use that opportunity to explain the dangers of guns, the reasons they are used by law enforcers, and your family ethic regarding violence.