My Daughter Found a Gun in the Family Closet

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My older two daughters, who are 4 and 7, found a gun yesterday. It was hiding in a closet that was accidently left open at a family member’s home.

I was sitting in the living room, conversing and enjoying adult company, when I heard my 7 year old yelling "Go tell Mommy, go tell Mommy!" I didn't think much of the words because my kids always fight, yell, and boss each other around. Then my 4 year old came barreling down the hall screaming "Gun, gun, gun!" I had no idea what was going on so I went to the room in which my oldest was still sitting. Lo and behold, she was pointing at a gun sitting in an open closet. Neither of my daughters touched it and they both knew to run and tell an adult immediately. While my 4 year old ran to get me, my 7 year old stood guard to make sure nobody else got near the gun until I got in the room.

Project ChildSafe

Project ChildSafe is a wonderful website that promotes gun safety awareness and educates the public about the proper methods for locking and storing firearms. The website includes information on locations that offer free safety kits in different states. Ohio alone has over 55 different partners who offer the free safety kit that includes a safety brochure with information on firearm storage options and a free cable-style gun lock.

Here is where I pause to explain the gun in the closet. The gun my daughters found is a pellet gun that does not stay loaded and that was harmless. It was in the closet for the simple reason that the holidays are here and every nook and cranny of the house had been cleaned for placement of Santa dolls and winter-clad caroling cat statues. The pellet gun is a known fixture of that particular home, as raccoons are a real menace to the neighborhood; they eat garbage, bother cats, and make horrible messes everywhere they go. Even though my children had seen that particular gun in that particular home before, they still knew it was not alright for them to be around it. The reason I share this story is because my daughters made me proud with their reactions to the gun in the closet. When I realized there was no danger and what they had done, my heart swelled with pride and my eyes brimmed with tears. In all my life, I had never been more proud of anyone for anything.

I have always worried about my oldest daughter and guns. Her father and I have been divorced for years now and he lets her play video games that are rated for age 18 and over. At least he once did, until I made a huge deal about it. But by time I made my move, the damage had been done. My sweet little girl with the big smile and baby blue eyes was obsessed with guns. Last year she asked Santa for a sniper rifle and once while waiting for the bus this year she pointed to a truck and said she thought the loader on top was a turret. I didn't even know what a turret was until she told me! I always worried she would find a gun at a friend or family member's house and think she knew what to do with it, since she'd played all the shoot-em games.

It turns out I was right, she did indeed know exactly what to do with the gun, tell an adult. In light of adolescent gun statistics, I thank my lucky stars. Although no real danger was present since there were no pellets loaded, I learned how my children would likely behave if presented with a similar situation.

The Scary Facts

According to the most recent data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics, a child or teen was killed in a firearm-related accident or suicide every 9 hours in 2005. Also in 2005, there were 16,298 children injured by guns and an additional 14,052 children injured by BB or pellet guns.

If you own a gun and you ever have children in your home, please follow proper gun safety storage and handling procedures. In America, 30% of handguns are stored in unlocked areas, without safety devices, and loaded or along with ammunition.

Comments 49 comments

Triplet Mom profile image

Triplet Mom 8 years ago from West Coast

Great hub and very important to get the word out. Sorry you had to experience this but luckily it had a positive ending. Thank you.


Cris A profile image

Cris A 8 years ago from Manila, Philippines

you really have intelligent daughters, must have taken after their mother! you really should be proud! :D


Bardie 8 years ago

What a wonderful story and what a great job you have done in teaching your children! I wish more parents would take the time to explain and reinforce the dangers of guns.


Dottie1 profile image

Dottie1 8 years ago from MA, USA

The title was scary. The ending was happy. I sense a proud mom and you should be. Thanks for the story.


Ardie profile image

Ardie 8 years ago from Neverland Author

Hi Triplet Mom - Thank you for the nice comment. It was scary, and once I calmed down I just praised my girls over and over. Even though it wasnt a real danger, I kept thinking 'what if it had been?'

Thanks Cris A! I am so very proud of them. I wish all kids knew to react the same way. I lost a friend when I was about 12 because his brother was playing with a gun, shot it at a cement floor, and the bullet ricocheted and hit my friend. I know guns have plenty of good uses, but Id rather never be around one.

Thank you Bardie:) I wish more parents would take the time too. Its such an important issue. Im just glad my oldest isnt as gun-obsessed as I originally thought.


Ardie profile image

Ardie 8 years ago from Neverland Author

Hi Dottie - Im hoping more people will look at the title and read the story to realize how important it is to teach our children about guns. One link even tells people how to get a free gun lock. I think that offer needs to be publicized a lot more.


Ande Moore profile image

Ande Moore 8 years ago from Austin, Texas

I'm glad that your daughters reacted they way they did. You should be quite proud of them. You've obviously have taught them well. I have several...and I mean several weapons around the house, including assault rifles. I was raised around weapons and believe in our right to have them. BUT, YOU DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO ACT IRRESPONSIBLY with any weapon. All weapons need to be stored and locked. My wife and I each carry and the home defense weapon is available but ammo and clip is out of the assault rifle and out of reach. Way out of reach. Taking the time to teach your children what a weapon can do and keeping it away from them is as much as a part of owning a weapon, as the responsibility of owning one period. I am angry at the individual that left the weapon out and within' a child's reach. If a child can get to it so can the home intruder! If he was in the Corps or in my home he would have lost the weapon and been SEVERLY disapplined. I'm so glad that your children are smart and did not end up another stat! GREAT HUB!


Ardie profile image

Ardie 8 years ago from Neverland Author

Thank you Ande. Im glad the girls reacted how they did, too. It makes me feel a little more comfortable, but the reactions could change as they grow so I will continue to educate them. I will never have a firearm in my home, I just have a big, protective dog instead :) But I understand everyone else's right to have a gun. I didnt get angry at the person that left it out because it wasnt loaded. But I am angry at the person that left the gun out that killed my friend so many years ago. The irony is that the big brother had stolen the gun to scare another kid at school. The accident saved that kid's life but took his brother's instead. Thanks for stopping in.


jim10 profile image

jim10 8 years ago from ma

I'm glad your girls reacted so well and you should be very proud of them. My boys know about gun safety. They have used pellet guns safely at Cub Scout Camp but that is about it. Thanks for stressing that children should always be reminded about gun safety. I don't have any interest in owning a gun. but I have no problem with responsible gun owners to have them locked away for safety. Pesky rodents can be quite a problem. We had to get metal barrels to stop the stupid squirrel from getting into our trash.


Ardie profile image

Ardie 8 years ago from Neverland Author

Hi jim10 - I am indeed very proud. Im not a gun owner either, but if I had one, the pesky rodents would surely be my first thought :D


goldentoad profile image

goldentoad 8 years ago from Free and running....

Scary story, I thought many times about getting a gun, but like you, I got the dogs, they may not hurt anyone but they'll annoy the shit out of em. But good for your daughters.


Ardie profile image

Ardie 8 years ago from Neverland Author

Thanks. My dog is the same, a big baby - but the keyword is BIG : )


wannabwestern profile image

wannabwestern 8 years ago from The Land of Tractors

Great writing and an important message. I'm more aware of this issue than I would have been. Thanks.


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 8 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

Give me a dog any day over a gun. This is why the Police use dogs, they are quick and efficient. You have obviously brought up your children very well for them to have been so mature over this 'discovery'.


BDazzler profile image

BDazzler 8 years ago from Gulf Coast, USA

Nicely done, very responsible hub. I've never owned a gun (but still may someday when I have time for classes) but my family and extended family has always been very responsible in handling them (now that I think about it, I do own a gun, my grandfather left it to me, but my dad has it because i haven't had time to take classes and I haven't seen it since before he passed.)

Anyway, very well handled topic and very well written.

Misty, just remeber, guns don't kill people ... bullets do ... ;)


KT pdx profile image

KT pdx 8 years ago from Vancouver, WA, USA

Great story. I grew up with guns in my dad's house, and learned to shoot them, but also learned to only let adults handle them while loading and unloading (and in the right circumstances).

That's wonderful that your daughters knew just what to do!


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 8 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

Very nice hub -- good blending of incredible personal story with statistics! Kudos to you and to your responsble daughters, also. MM


johnny yuma1 8 years ago

Smart girls--they seemed to have learned the lesson well. amd smart mom because you taught the lesson to them well.

Johnny Yuma


Ardie profile image

Ardie 8 years ago from Neverland Author

wannabewestern, im so glad the hub made you more aware. I wrote it thinking that if it only got to one person, Id be more than happy:)

mistyhorizon, i agree. i will always have a dog over a gun. i have been against guns for a very long time - since the loss of my friend. i understand other people's rights, but a gun just isnt for me.

BDazzler, I think its great you are emphasizing taking classes before owning a gun. That shows great responsibility. Now that I think about it, my husband has a gun too, that was left to him from his Grandfather and was used in WWII. But it is also at his Dad's house because I flipped out when I found it many years ago ;)


Ardie profile image

Ardie 8 years ago from Neverland Author

KT pdx, Thank you! I have known a few people who were raised around guns and took classes and extensive training. In that case, I think it's acceptable. When you teach the kids about guns, it takes away the opportunity for them to get curious or for the gun to remain taboo and interesting.

MM, Thank you very much. I figured instead of simply telling my story, Id try to add some valuable info too. I never knew police departments offer free gun-lock kits. The word needs to get around more and I dont mind doing it :)

johnny yuma, Thank you for the nice comments. Im glad they were actually listening while I was talking. I often think they just tune me out...


Just_Rodney profile image

Just_Rodney 8 years ago from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City

Real scary, that they knew what to do about, well that is something else. It is a tribute to the responsible way that they have been raised, you are on the right track with them.

Even as the statistics you quoted show, pellet guns too are dangerous.  If you can take them to a proper firing range and go through the guns safety aspects, let them do a bit of target shooting, this is a good afternoons outing.

Also if they do accidently come across another gun, the lesson has beenn learnt and they are even less likely to be curious.

I have never owned a gun, neither do I have the desire to have one.


Ardie profile image

Ardie 8 years ago from Neverland Author

Hi Just Rodney, thank you for the comment :) It seems like when you feel down about being a parent, something happens that makes you realize, 'hey, just maybe I'm doing ok'. I have thought about getting my girls lessons or some sort of training. A lot of people in my family and neighborhood hunt, so it's likely my kids will see another gun in the future. And I want them to react exactly the same way.


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 8 years ago from The Ozarks

Ardie, great hub, and you indeed are doing a fine job with your girls. Guns should be treated with respect, and every child should understand that they are not a toy.

I think the awful statistics with regard to children and guns do not come from a proliferation of guns in the home, but from children who have not been properly informed about gun safety issues. When every American family had a gun hanging over the mantle or front door, I don't think this was as serious an issue.


Ardie profile image

Ardie 8 years ago from Neverland Author

Hi Aya, thanks for stopiing in.

You make a great point. If all children were properly taught about guns and how they should be used, less children would 'play' with them - resulting in less accidents.


allshookup profile image

allshookup 8 years ago from The South, United States

I'm glad your daughters were safe and didn't touch the gun since they didn't know how to use it. They did good by telling you about it. They can be scary if not educated about guns and gun safety. I, like an above poster, carry a weapon and so does my husband. We have carrry liscenses here in our state. We have 1 son. He, like me, was taught about guns his whole life. I started shooting at the age of 4 years old. My daddy did this in order to make sure I was safe and that I could defend myself if needed. We are a family of gun owners and lifetime members of the NRA. They also stress gun safety. We do not put those cords on our guns. If we were to need them quickly, they would be useless. And if someone were in our home when we returned from somehwhere and had guns, they could easily have shot our dogs and then our last line of defense would be our guns. I'm thankful we live in a country where we can have them and protect ourselves. But, if you are going to have a weapon, the whole family needs to be educated on safey in using it. Again, I'm glad your children are safe. I like what Aya said in the last paragraph. That just shows that people can be safe around guns, including children. It's the parents who have let down the children and not educated them. But, then again, parents tend to not educate their children on most things now, and leave it up to teachers at school. Great point Aya. That speaks a lot about us parents :(


Ardie profile image

Ardie 8 years ago from Neverland Author

Hi allshookup, Thank you for commenting. Im glad my daughters are safe too. I understand the cords on guns render them useless if they are needed for protection. And everyone does indeed have a right to own a gun, but I will still more than likely never have one. Ive had the experience of living in a horrible neighborhood before I moved to the nice one Im in now. And most everyone had a gun (illegally most of them), but I still don't want one. That said, if I did ever change my mind, my kids would most definately be trained and better educated about firearms. The best plan of action to stop the accidents is to educate people about the causes of them.


allshookup profile image

allshookup 8 years ago from The South, United States

Great point. I think education is the key!!


laringo profile image

laringo 8 years ago from From Berkeley, California.

Ardie, you have done an excellent job with your girls relating to the issue of guns. Education is the key and kudos to you also.


Sara Algoe profile image

Sara Algoe 8 years ago from Phoenix, Ariz

Ardie you taught your girls well and if i were at you place i would have done the same . Your girls are young 4 and 7 and i think they should know that guns could hurt people but parents at some point in their children s life , may be at 15 or later , should show them or educate them about guns. so that guns don't become some thing new or alien to them.

Some time it is the curiousness if not obsession that bring children to guns . They are going see guns no matter how much you protect them . In movies , news and even cartoons . So we must train them to be more responsible .

For example i have not heard ever that some judu or karate master kicked and killed some on road and bleave me they have the potential . Its just they know that they have a great skill and they are more responsible with that.


Ardie profile image

Ardie 8 years ago from Neverland Author

Hello Laringo - Thank you for the nice comment. I just have to remember to continue to educate and not let this make me more complacent.

Hello Sara Algoe - Thank you for the comment. My 4 year old doesnt really know about guns other than dont touch, it was mostly my 7 year old who reacted correctly and the 4 year old followed along. The older of the two does have a lot more exposure to guns at my ex's house, so she does have more of an education on them. I agree that as they get older I will have to tell and show them more. That way when they are teens, they will hopefully still make correct decisions if confronted with the same situation.


Jack Burton profile image

Jack Burton 8 years ago from The Midwest

The best way I have found to remove the allure surround guns for kids is to have them spotlesslly clean them after a range session. A couple of hours wiith a toothbrush, smelly chemicals, and slippery little parts will encourage even the most adventurous kids that guns are much more a pain in the neck that an attraction. :-)


jasperasyo profile image

jasperasyo 8 years ago

your lucky with your children. i wish all the children in the world would do the same thing as your children did. yet still, we need to educate them to avoid any bad situations.


allshookup profile image

allshookup 8 years ago from The South, United States

Jack, long time no see. Good to see you!


Ardie profile image

Ardie 8 years ago from Neverland Author

Hi Jack and thanks for visiting :)  I truly love your way of removing any attraction from a firearm.  I will most definately use your method.  My boss hunts a lot and I'm going tell him to bring his gun and stuff over for my kids to clean!  THE most creative solution yet. 


Ardie profile image

Ardie 8 years ago from Neverland Author

Hi jasperasyo:) I agree that I am pretty lucky when it comes to my kids. They have yet to prove otherwise (of course, they arent teens yet). And I agree with you, I wish more kids would make the same decisions. Educating our children seems to be the most agreed-upon method for decreasing the accidents - whether one owns a gun or not.


mdvaldosta profile image

mdvaldosta 8 years ago from Valdosta, GA

Whew that was a close call, you've got smart little girls. My two boys both know what guns are (video games) and I've done everything I could to hope that they would do the same thing in that situation.


Ardie profile image

Ardie 7 years ago from Neverland Author

Hi mdvaldosta, Thank you for the comment. I hope and pray that your boys will behave the same way if ever in that situation. If you've taught them, thats all you can do as a parent, and just keep teaching them.


poorQpine profile image

poorQpine 7 years ago from USA

Ardie,

You said keep teaching them and that is SO RIGHT. Children need the repetition because they get side tracked and the repeating instills these very important lessons.

As for your friend shooting a pellet gun at the raccoons. ...well you know I do not like the sound of that but that is another hub. me, poorQpine


Ardie profile image

Ardie 7 years ago from Neverland Author

Hi poorQpine, Im so glad you stopped by! Yes, repitition is important. One of my daughter's favorite sayings is "I musta fergot." I want to make sure this is one thing she cant forget. And sorry about the raccoons. If it makes you feel any better, I feed my raccoons cat food (although not on purpose...the strays just dont finish it and I forget to bring it in).


Constant Walker profile image

Constant Walker 7 years ago from Springfield, Oregon

Very good article, Ardie, and you should DEFINITELY be proud of your daughters for their response and of YOU for teaching it to them in first place.

As for children playing war games, whether they be video or on a larger scale outdoors, I'm conflicted: I grew up playing every kind of war game you can imagine - and some you can't - before, after and since violent, bloody video games and I still love them. As for me, personally, I'm probably the LEAST violent person you may ever meet, and I will side-step a bug on the sidewalk rather than senselessly end its life.

Children are violent by nature, boys more so than girls, but girls too. There's nothing you can do about it. It's instinctual. You cannot unteach it, but it passes... usually. What you CAN teach is passion, empathy and intelligence. If your daughter has a passion for guns there's not a lot, at this point, you can do to discourage it, except to hope it passes. But if it doesn't then make sure she's the most knowledgable and well-trained gun-freak around. This is the safest route, because nothing is more dangerous than someone with a gun who doesn't know what it's truly capable of doing.


Ardie profile image

Ardie 7 years ago from Neverland Author

Hi Constant Walker, Thanks for stopping by :) and thanks for the very nice comments. I hope my daughter is like you and loves the games, but lives a nonviolent life. She does seem to behave like that, except for the gun obsession. And you are probably right that the gun phase may pass. But if it doesnt, she will get lessons and training for a bday gift one day. I'll never forget the time at Chuck E Cheese when she picked up a gun for one of the games, rested it on her shoulder, and looked through the scope, only to score almost perfect...at age 5. Everyone was staring.


Jack Burton profile image

Jack Burton 7 years ago from The Midwest

Nancy Johnson wins first gold of Sydney Games in 2000

http://www.canoe.ca/2000GamesShooting/sep16_joh.ht...

Could have worse hobbies to enjoy

:-)


Ardie profile image

Ardie 7 years ago from Neverland Author

Hi Jack

You're right. Although I am not crazy about guns, I cant place my own interests and dislikes on my daughter. The more I have read comments about the topic, I realize that if my daughter is going to like guns, I need to accept it (when shes a little older) and make sure she's the most educated gun-toting woman around


Pest profile image

Pest 7 years ago from A Couch, Lake Odessa, MI

My first gun was a Daisy Red Rider when I was six, my second was a .410 sigle shot when I was in fourth grade. However my father taought me extremely well from the start about the use, safety and consequences of not being safe. Education was all it took for me. Too many gun owners think that keeping the guns safe is all it takes, but it is the education of the people around them that is important. just because a pistol is locked out doesn't mean you can point it at someone. Sounds like you have educated you children very well.


Ardie profile image

Ardie 7 years ago from Neverland Author

Hi Pest, thanks for stopping in :)

I think you are right, its not just about keeping the guns out of reach of children, but also teaching them what to do IF they come across one. With the situation I realized that just because I dont have a gun in the home, my children will still go to other homes with guns. The education is by far better than keeping your home safe when you know your kids will be at friend's and family's.


Dan 7 years ago

The CDC statistics you write about actually include "kids" up to the age of 19-24 depending on the statistic. Most of that is gang violence! My buddy Don is statistics & analysis and tells me with a grin, "You can make statistics say anything you want!".

I applaud your children and your efforts, but it may be best to consider educating yourself further. GunFacts.Info states: "This “statistic” includes “children” up to age 19 or 24, depending on the source. Most violent crime is committed by males ages 16-24, these numbers end up including adult gang members dying during criminal activity. The proper definition of ‘child’ is a person between birth and puberty (typically 13-14 years old)."

Gunfacts.info has an e-book dedicated to educating individuals about guns and as well, dispelling myths. (and they quote all their sources!)


ghomefitness profile image

ghomefitness 6 years ago from Chicago,IL

Thanks for this hub, it was a eye opener, i will pass the info on to my 5 year old. We have never talked about guns.


Melovy profile image

Melovy 4 years ago from UK

This was really a interesting read Ardie. How great that your fears about your daughter were unfounded and she knew what to do when she found a gun.

This is something I’ve never had to think about as guns are very strictly controlled in the UK, and few people own one - I don’t know anyone with a gun.


Ardie profile image

Ardie 4 years ago from Neverland Author

Hi Melovy :) I was SO proud of my daughter for reacting in the proper way - I wonder if she'd still do the same at this age now that she's 11. I wish it wasn't so easy to come across a gun in the US. Heck, there are stories on the news here all the time about kids who find guns on vacant lots. The gun will be used in a crime and then tossed away. It's downright scary!

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