January 14, 2013

Your child visits a friend: Do you ask about guns?

Many parents want to know, but find it awkward to ask other parents about guns in their home.

By Eric Russell erussell@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

Today's poll: Asking about guns

Do you ever ask parents of your child's friends if they have guns in their home?



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Rebecca Tibbetts, 43, is a mental health nurse who lives in Portland with her husband. Their son is 23 now, but when he was growing up, there were only rifles or shotguns in the home. Tibbetts said her husband owned a handgun but she wouldn't allow it in the house.

"A handgun is different," she said.

She wouldn't have minded if another parents had asked if she had a gun at home, but said it never came up. On the issue of guns in general, though, Tibbetts said she was shocked to learn that her husband's handgun had never been registered and that registration of firearms is not required.

"I'm not anti-gun and I'm not an NRA supporter either, but we register our cars and even our dogs," she said. "I don't know why we don't register guns."

Michelle Belanger, 34, of Old Orchard Beach, said she and her husband don't have children but she wouldn't hesitate to ask other parents about guns.

"Especially now, you hear these awful stories about accidental shootings, why would you chance it?" she said.

Belanger said she and her husband are on opposite sides of the gun debate. After Sandy Hook, he was tempted to buy an assault rifle in case it was banned. Her response was to get rid of all their guns.

Awareness of guns and gun safety in the home has been heightened in recent years. In addition to the Brady Center's Ask Campaign, the American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends that all pediatricians ask parents about guns. Steve Feder, a pediatrician in Boothbay Harbor and board president of the Maine Chapter of the AAP, said it's a safety question, and not one that is meant to imply judgment about someone's parenting style.

"In my experience, as long as it's brought up appropriately, I haven't had anyone take offense," he said.

However, Priest, the father of four from Lee, said he was "very offended" when asked about guns during a recent visit to his child's doctor.

"I was quick to point out that I also have cleaning supplies, paint, medications, and matches and I make sure to keep them out of children's reach too," he said. "Why (was there) no concern about those as well?

Feder said doctors ask a variety of safety-related questions, and he said parents shouldn't be shy either.

Staff Writer Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at:


Twitter: @PPHEricRussell


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Today's poll: Asking about guns

Do you ever ask parents of your child's friends if they have guns in their home?



View Results