A Gun Story (kind of long)

So, my in-laws come last Friday to visit for a week or so. They drive over (a 4.5 hour drive), and get here in the late afternoon. My father in law (FIL) decides he wants to take a nap before dinner, so he lays (lies?) down on the sofa in the basement. Comes time for dinner, he comes upstairs and joins the rest of the family.

So, dinner goes along nicely, and it’s time for dessert, so I go down the the basement fridge to get the cake. As I’m passing the sofa where my FIL took his nap, I notice a fanny pack. I figured it belonged to one of my kids, so I would just toss it in a box with some other toys. I pick it up, and notice there’s something heavy in it, so I open it to investigate. Lo and behold, there’s a GUN inside - a small caliber pistol.

I take the fanny pack upstairs with the cake, and I get my wife into the kitchen and send out the the kids. I tell Mrs. KVS, in a low voice, that her father brought a “special friend” with him, and showed it to her. I put it up on top of a book shelf. Later, when the FIL went out, Mrs. KVS tells him in no uncertain terms to take the gun out and find some other place to keep it as long as he’s visiting.

I’m not entirely anti-gun, but what would possess him to bring an illegal gun (I’m sure he doesn’t have any sort of license for this) into a house with 3 young kids? And now, I’m not entirely comfortable with the idea of visiting the in-laws, because I don’t know how (or if) he locks whatever weapon(s) he has. This is unfortunate, because I like my in-laws.

So, what do we do now?

Well, you could start out by sitting your FIL down and expressing your concerns about visiting them. Just explain to them that you have concerns because you do not own a gun and therefore haven’t been able to teach your kids about gun safety. (Or, if your kids are still too young for that you can say that you don’t want the kids to think it’s a toy. A 3 year old can’t tell the difference between a toy and a real gun.)
Ask him if he keeps any other weapons at the house. Since it is the safety of your children that you are concerned about, don’t feel like it’s being nosy or pushy. Ask him what kind of safety devices (locks, trigger locks, etc…) he uses. If he says he doesn’t, tell him that you would like him to look into it, as your children won’t be able to come over until something is done about it.

Make sure you let him know, though, that you don’t care if he owns a gun, but you are looking out for your children’s safety. Too many kids get curious or decide to play with guns and get killed every day. It’s just a matter of preventing the tragedy before it has a chance to happen.

I think that before you go over to your in-laws home, you should discuss your options for gun control. Apparently, you haven’t already, or this wouldn’t have come as such a surprise to you that he brought a gun in your home or he wouldn’t have done it in the first place. If you feel that your in-laws don’t have the proper security measures, after discussing it with them, you may just go ahead and bring a lock box with you, explaining that you don’t feel comfortable with their guns so available while there are curious children around, and would they please lock the guns up until you leave. If they have a problem doing this, you may not want to visit them anyway. But the lockbox may be a good idea for your home, should you want to lock up any items they bring into your home. Just a thought.

a) Tell him that he is under no circumstances allowed to bring a gun into your house. Ever. Not a bit. End of discussion.

b) ask him what security measures he has on his arsonal when you bring your kids over. If the answer doesn’t satisfy you, ask him if he could do more, tell him what you would be comfortable with.

Don’t feel guilty. This is the safety of your children. If he can’t understand and respect that…you don’t want him around your kids.


First, the firearm may or may not be illegal: FIL may in fact, have a concealed-carry license. You’ll have to ask to know for sure. Some states permit concealed carry without a license.
Second, no way in hell he should have ever let a firearm out of his control (was it loaded? I’ll bet it was).
Third, no way in hell he should have brought a weapon into your house without asking your specific permision. That’s a gross violation of hospitality, and is extraordinarily disrespectful and/or thoughtless of him. I would call it pretty close to the height of discourtesy.

  • Now, action item the first: Unload the weapon and return it to him.
  • Next, get you feelings out into the open (gently!): He needs to understand that he’s crossed a line that isn’t to be crossed. My guess is, he’ll be truly embarassed and appologetic, which means you’ll not have a repeat.
  • Last, figure out what the rules are. If he’s going to be armed habitually, are you and your wife OK with this? Will he be permitted to wear the weapon in your house (provided he maintains control over of it), or do you wish him to leave the weapon at home, or will you (or he) provide a secure storage for it while he’s at your house?

Do this in a calm and non-confrontational manner, you’ll get his respect and gratitude for not rubbing his nose in his blunder. Once you’ve got the rules settled, you can go back to enjoying his company.

Hear, hear! KVS, the FIL broke two HUGE rules, bringing into the house without permission, and leaving it unattended, presumably unlocked. One is a mean faux pas, the other is a felony crime waiting to happen. Unload it, place it back in the fanny pack (hide from view of kids) and have this conversation OUTSIDE your house. He can keep it somewhere else. I refused a friend of the ex-wife permission to bring HER revolver inside my house, because she had never fired it and didn’t know it.

Your house, your rules. No weapon wanted? No weapon in the house. I do agree with Tranquilis, keep the words gentle but the conversation firm.

It sounds like you guys handled it pretty well. You might now want to have your wife ask her mom how he stores his guns at home. It would make a good follow-up and then your MIL can pester Pops, if necessary instead of you. You might also want to buy him some of these cable locks in the near future if he has a birthday, or something, coming up. They, of course, won’t do shit against a determined adult with a simple cable cutting tool, but they’re damned effective against accidents, like children finding a gun. In fact, if used properly the action must be open and the gun unloaded. Very cheap and can be used on nearly any gun, too. I use these on all my guns when my nieces and nephews visit.

Finally, and this is very important, talk to your kids about this. Show them pictures of a couple guns, a revolver and a pistol, and tell them, if they ever see anything looking like either of the pictures they are to find an adult immediately. Do not touch it. Bring the adult to the gun, not the gun to the adult.

It didn’t have a trigger lock, and I’m assuming it was loaded. My mother in law was also quite upset, and she told me he didn’t have a license for it. And no, he wasn’t embarassed. Mrs. KVS told me she did make it clear to him in a private conversation that the fanny pack was not to appear in the house, for any reason, at any time.

I really have no idea why he carries a gun, or what he’s so afraid of. He is somewhat “Archie Bunkerish” at times.

The kids did not see the gun, and they did not hear anything about it. I’m not sure they would know one if they saw one, which may not be a great thing. I do not own a gun (although I have gone target shooting).

I’m more concerned that FIL left the gun on the sofa, and didn’t realize it until later. If the girls had gone down to play, there could have been a real tragedy.

We’re going to visit the in-laws in August, and my kids will spend a week there without us; I hope we can get the FIL to observe some common sense rules before they go.

Good. The basic cornerstone of all gun safety–a gun is always loaded, so treat it accordingly. FIL apparently doesn’t treat his that way, my sympathies that he’s a moron.

Given that he’s a moron in this area, your options are unpleasant. You should know your own kids, if it’s safe to sit them (your kids) down and discuss. I think all children should learn gun safety regardless, but when it’s a short term crash course, that ain’t so good because with some children, that might just make them want to find the guns, though, which isn’t very safe. Contrariwise, if they stumble across them without having been taught first, that’s also obviously not safe. In which case, you might want to seriously reconsider having them stay unsupervised–their safety overrides vacation plans–and express that, calmly, at MIL. Grandmatronly instinct should hopefully bend FIL in line.

*Originally posted by Drastic *

What Drastic said. No such thing as an unloaded weapon until You have proved it to yourself. Once the waepon leaves you hand, it’s loaded again, even if it never left your sight. Check it again.

Bingo. Visit your local law enforcement agency, they should have some material, or be able to steer you in the right direction. Contact a local range, especially one run by a local Parks and Rec department, or when all else fails, contact the local Boy Scout Council. They too should have access to good saftey training material. When all else fails, have the “don’t touch” talk. It’s not as effective as other means, but it’s better than ignoring the situation.

Again, Bingo.
Your MIL, and her desire to see her grandchildren, are your best allies. Use them shamelessly. Consider purchasing a small gunsafe (Not too expensive, if you’re only looking for something to hold a pistol) for your house if he’s insistant on acting dangerously, so at least you and your household can be safe. Lastly, if he’s not willing to toe the line, keep your kids home.

Sorry to hear he wasn’t embarrased. That means he’s dangerous, at least as far as his firearms behavior is concerned. That’s the kind of behavior that gives the rest of us gun-owners a bad name. :mad:

Nothing to say that hasn’t already been said, but Hi, KVS! Long time no read!


What the Fuck was she thinking?!?! I’m being serious, why the Hell would you carry a gun you don’t know?! That’s an accident waiting to happen!


even me, who is very pro gun, thinks that this was a big no-no. in fact, that was a really stupid thing for him to’ve done. I hope, though, that everything works out nice and smoothly for you. everyone had pretty much covered it, I think.

Well, he did put it away somewhere (not in the house), so the immediate problem is taken care of. We have until the end of August to figure out what we’ll do when we go to visit them.

one thing, KVS. There are a number of trigger locks that do not work very well. If he has one when you go to FIL’s house, look at it yourself, point gun and wall, and try to fire it as best you can, even poke it with a pencil, 'cuz kids play.

Totally irresponsible to leave the gun lying around with kids in the house.