So many of my friends have grown up in homes with guns. One of my favorite childhood friends grew up hunting with his dad, and now his son goes hunting with them every season; he has since he could stand up, just about. Another dear friend grew up with a father who was an incredible big-game hunter. Their home was filled with his trophies, and I mean filled: an elephant head on the wall in one room, ducks flying across the corner of another, a gi-normous bear standing tall, and many many others, all beautifully mounted and stuffed. Yet when my husband brought home a gun yesterday – and it’s not like we had not talked about it – I flipped out a little.

I should back up and say that this is not a blog about gun rights, nor do I want to debate the pros/cons of having a gun in the house. Of all the people in the world, my husband knows how to safely handle a gun. He was a small-arms expert in the Navy, and is a veteran of Desert Storm. Yet somehow, seeing the gun, right in front of me (lockbox or not, padlocked and not-load-able or not) completely freaked me out. This should not have been a total surprise – we’d argued about why he “needed” a gun, discussed what kind and where he’d get it…even chosen a safe at a sporting goods store. Yet somehow, I did not equate his “I got my permit at the sheriff’s office last week” with “I’m bringing home a gun on Monday.”

How did this all come about? Well, my husband is another southerner who grew up around guns. Nearly every male in his family has been in some branch of armed service, and it’s not like those who were not in the military hadn’t tried to enlist. He grew up in the NC mountains, and evidently the combination of those two things made guns a way of life. My mother even grew up with guns, for as much as we were sheltered from them – she too lived in the mountains, and hunting was a family activity whatever the season. Thinking about it in those terms, initially I was okay with the idea. Gun in the house, fine. Safety first, okay. But the more we talked about it, the less I liked the idea, especially with a 3-year old and a baby on the way.

After we got in an argument last night in which my husband was actually very confused – he thought my lack of response / quietude during our discussions supported my initial “well, if you are dying to have one, okay” comment –  I debated whether I’d have felt better if he’d gotten a rifle instead of a hand gun. Rifles seem less like toys to me. They are brought out only for a purpose, as in, to scare my daughter’s 17-year old dates (thinking ahead here) or to shoot the rabid raccoon in the back yard (we live on several acres). I think, though, that my actual problem is that I am just afraid of guns, and clearly I did not communicate this well enough to my husband. The poor guy was sitting there trying to figure out when “well, I don’t like it, but we can talk about it” turned into “effing hell no” and I was trying to tell him that I just don’t know how to be around guns, and maybe if he could make me feel okay with it, then I’d be, well, okay with it. Instead, there was yelling, ending with “fine, I’ll just take the gun back,” which wasn’t exactly my point.

So now I am faced with a dilemma. Clearly, there is a way to live in a house with a gun and have no one get hurt; families have been doing that for years. I just don’t know how to get comfortable with it. I do trust my husband, but I don’t necessarily know his gun rules, at least not all of them. He insists that the gun will only come out in order to keep our family safe, but I thought that’s what the big stick under the bed was for…I do want to support my husband, and I do believe that he will be very strict and safe with a weapon in the house. However, I think I’ll feel better when I hear from some folks who have some experience here. (Too bad our friend Tom broke up with Jen the policeman; I could really use her point of view!)

Anyway, my question is this: did any of you grow up with guns? Were they hidden from  you, or were you made aware of the weapons and the rules? Again, I don’t want to talk about whether or not guns should be in homes at all – that’s a debate for another time. Given that a gun in our home is becoming a reality, I wanted to get some perspective. Please leave your comments below.

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