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Dear Amy

From an advice column over at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, a woman asks what to do about “When our family gets together for any holiday, my niece’s husband has to bring a gun with him.” The husband in question has a valid permit to carry, and she has requested that he leave the gun at home. The husband said either she accepts it, or he won’t be coming over for the holidays.

Of course, Dear Amy consults those noted gun experts at the Brady Campaign and dispenses their advice, which if they had any power, would probably be to call social services on the guy and have his children taken away. But since we don’t live in Brady world, they just yammer about how guns are just going to cause tragedy, reciting long debunked studies about how guns are more likely to kill family members than intruders.

Personally, I’ve never had to deal with anything like this. My first question to the husband would be how these people know he’s carrying? I’ve always found discretion is the best policy in situations with sensitive family. Really, what they don’t know won’t hurt them. It’s always been my policy to neither confirm nor deny the presence of firearms.

If I were the husband, I’d just stay home, unless it was important to my wife to go, in which case I’d abide by the wishes of the aunt who does not approve of firearms in her home. It is her home, at the end of the day, and she can make the rules. But I’d probably also try to talk to her about her irrational fears if the wife was OK with that. Bitter and I have never had this problem, however, because neither of us have had issues with relatives of this nature. I have relatives who probably would not approve of firearm carriage, but I never saw any reason to broach the topic.

28 Responses to “Dear Amy”

  1. Tango Juliet says:

    By all means, go gray! No one needs to know and I believe it’s ultimately counterproductive in many ways.

    Just carry!

  2. Weer'd Beard says:

    Yep, I carry concealed all the time. That being said even if I open carried I’d swap to concealed at social gatherings, and if its a gathering with a lot of hugging with people who may-o-may-not appreciate lawful carry I switch to pocket carry.

    I don’t lie or deceive, but I also don’t bring it up (for both discretion, and frankly who cares?).

    If somebody was to say “Hey Weer’d, I’d rather you not carry here.” I’d probably ask for their motivations and see if there’s any fallacies I can challenge, and then I’d decide to disarm or stay home.

    That seems fair. I mean do people demand that Muslims, Jews, or Gays disclose their personal info before entering somebody’s property? I accept the rights of those who chose to be bigots, but I see no reason to enable them.

  3. Robb Allen says:

    Funny, when I started carrying, my wife was all atwitter about me carrying in her parents’ house. I pretty much went “Honey, I realize it makes you uncomfortable, so I’ll do what I need to do to ensure you aren’t worried about it.”

    Translated – I carried anyway and just didn’t tell her. Eventually, after she realized I could carry anywhere and everywhere without blood in the streets, she overcame her fear.

    Heck, family hugs are abound with her side and they hit the damned thing all the time. They’re just used to it. And on my side of the family, my parents carry so there’s no issue there at all.

    Guess I’m lucky.

  4. Matthew Carberry says:

    In Alaska you have to get the owner’s express permission to lawfully carry in their home or on their property. I don’t know if Minnesota has a comparable statute.

    Unless he deep carries I don’t know how he’d conceal the gun, without a coat on, while visiting for any length of time. Especially if they are staying in the home. Kathy (“Cornered Cat”) has a take on securing weapons while visiting.

    In either event he does have the middle ground of securing the gun in his locked vehicle while at their home. It doesn’t have to be an “in their home or stay home” situation depending on how much he’s willing to bend until they can be educated.

    • Sebastian says:

      Locked in the glove box in a locked car is generally what I’ll do if I’m over someone’s house in a social situation where I can’t conceal or it would be inappropriate to carry. A friend used to have pool parties, which is obviously a no-carry situation with a lot of little ones running around and obviously not being able to wear a gun in a pool. Most of the time I’m not expecting a shootout in someone’s living room over a holiday or social situation. I want to be armed for traveling.

  5. David says:

    I’m glad I grew up in a family where the food on the table was shot with the rifle in the cabinet.

    If that were my relative I wouldn’t want to go to her home nor would she be welcomed in my home. I think I’d also start hosting more holidays to freeze her out.

  6. Nick Pacific says:

    That’s funny. I carry a gun. “Even in church.”
    “He thinks his permit gives him permission to carry a loaded gun wherever he goes.”
    Mine does, except for any place that charges admission. That’s the state law. So I have to leave it at home when I go to the movies, the same ones where there are a shooting every other year.

    What I don’t understand is why he’s TELLING PEOPLE. I heard people yesterday talking loudly about concealed carry, and what’s carried where, and in what pocket. First thought was that these people were now targets for aggression, and second that they had no business carrying because they probably didn’t understand the responsibilities.

    My family found out five years after I started unintentionally. I had to change clothes at my parents house. The only person that knows when I carry is my wife because she hears me rack the slide every morning.

    As a concealed carry holder, you are responsible for the weapon and its security. Part of that responsibility requires you keep silent about its existence. Not for the sensibilities of over reactive in laws, but to ensure you and your weapon are not compromised, disabled, or exchanged unwillingly.

  7. She never says that he told her. She says that her niece’s husband always carries, which probably means that her niece (who knows her husband’s behaviors for obvious reasons) told her.

  8. Bryan S. says:

    Ive had the good fortune of my father in law, who isn’t so much of a guns guy, stepping in and explaining that younger people like myself are working hard to preserve rights, even if not everyone chooses to practice them.

    Slowly, my new anti-gun family has been understanding that it isnt about the hardware, its about the right, the responsibility, and my duty to protect my family, no matter their personal opinion.

  9. Nick Pacific says:

    Good point.
    I went back and reread the letter. It seems to be not so much about the firearm, and more to do with some ongoing tension.

  10. Jake says:

    My cousin’s wife has made the same request, but I can at least respect her reasons enough that I won’t press the point – she’s worried that a) the youngest child might grab on to it if she feels it, and she’s young enough and hyper enough I can’t argue that, and b) the two older boys would be hounding us to take it out to the backyard (where there’s a good little range) to shoot it, which would distract from the gathering.

    She grew up in England, so she’s not entirely comfortable with guns, but she doesn’t make an issue of it, either. Her father-in-law (who is my uncle) frequently takes the kids out shooting, and as far as I know she’s never made an issue out of it. The boys enthusiastically ask him to go shooting pretty frequently. They also have asked Dad when they visit, so I know their firearms education is not being hindered!

    My parents and I honor her wishes, and leave the guns secured in the car (and yes, that includes Mom, too!).

  11. Laughingdog says:

    My stepmother and her kids never liked that I was usually carrying when I was around them. I’m sure you’d be shocked to hear that they were all very left-wing. But the problem resolved itself eventually; they proved themselves to be flagrant racists, so we don’t speak anymore.

    Holidays are definitely much easier, logistically and economically, when you wipe half of your family off the radar.

  12. The husband probably told the aunt he was carrying so he wouldn’t have to visit anymore. It’s a tactic I’ve considered to avoid vistin select family members.

  13. PT says:

    The girlfriend’s father not only parrots Paul Helmke’s lines, he actually looks like him as well. This exact scenario played out with his cousin (a top ranking police officer in a major city in Michigan) and his girlfriend (an IDPA/USPSA expert). He (cousin-cop) let it slip that he carries off duty, and she (cousin-cop girlfriend) carries as well. They were told no guns at my girlfriend’s dad’s house for dinner in a less than polite tone. They don’t visit anymore. I mean come on, you’re a-ok with him open carrying when he’s in uniform, but when he comes over to eat Thanksgiving he must be disarmed? WTF?

    The girlfriend’s dad has yet to find out that I carry, and he’d probably have an aneurysm when he finds out that his daughter carries as well.

    Discretion is best with irrational people.

    • This does not sound a fun family gathering. I have a sister who is a member of the Brady Campaign and every whacko left-wing group you can imagine. We don’t do a lot of family events with her, and believe me, the gun is the least of the issues.

  14. If you need to carry in the house, maybe you should find a more congenial group for Thanksgiving dinner. If the neighborhood is bad enough that you can’t leave the gun in the car, perhaps you need to invite them over to your place.

    • PT says:

      Clayton

      I live in the #3 most violent city in the nation. I have the right to protect myself going to and from the family gathering, don’t I?

      And we all know that leaving a gun in a car is an extremely secure method.

      Or maybe the “cousin-cop” in my life should just hope he doesn’t run into anyone he’s busted when coming over for dinner.

    • tkdkerry says:

      Clayton, seriously?? You seem to be denigrating the perceived “need” to carry in another person’s house, so what does that say about carrying in one’s own house? Ask anyone in Wichita about the Carr brothers and whether they stuck to a “bad” neighborhood. Hell, there was a broad daylight forced entry a block from my house a couple of years ago, and my neighborhood is as calm as it gets. Seems to me the issue is the owner’s permission or lack thereof, not whether there are “safe” homes where no-one ever needs a gun. Please tell me you had tongue in cheek and I missed it.

      • My point is that if the situation is that bad in the neighborhood, perhaps the family gathering should be somewhere a bit more safe. I’m picturing everyone preparing to return fire from behind the turkey, and it does not sound very relaxing.

        I would agree that having a gun in the car in some neighborhoods is not wise. I suspect that most sensible people living in such places would appreciate the need to be armed to and from the house.

        • Jake says:

          Clayton: If someone knew there would be a home invasion that day, or a robbery on the way to or from there, they wouldn’t need to carry a gun because they could just not go. They don’t, so they do.

          Crime happens in good neighborhoods, too.

          I’m picturing everyone preparing to return fire from behind the turkey, and it does not sound very relaxing.

          If people need to be preparing to return fire, then it’s not going to be very relaxing whether they have their gun on their person or not. That not-relaxing feeling might just last a bit longer if they do, though.

    • Sebastian says:

      I think Clayton was being a bit tongue in cheek with what he said, so I’d cut him a break.

  15. Matthew Carberry says:

    I carry in my house, why wouldn’t I carry at theirs?

    Sure it’s a one in a million thing but if I need a gun I need it now, not 10-20-30 feet away. A locked door buys time but there’s no “safe place”, even inside your home.

    Similarly, that professor in the Northeast who got home invaded and had his family killed was probably pretty secure with his neighborhood’s “safeness”.

    Wearing a gun is such a small inconvenience, particularly if you are on “friendly ground” and don’t have to worry about concealing it, so why -not- carry? Where’s the downside?

  16. mobo says:

    This would never be an issue for me. My family is extremely anti-gun, so I avoid the subject around them and never make mention of what’s in my waistband. Problem solved. Even my own wife usually doesn’t know when or if I’m carrying, and she thinks I have *maybe* a couple of old rusty revolvers and a shotgun in the closet. The subject simply never gets brought up by her, and I leave it at that.

  17. Dan says:

    Sent this to the columnist,

    Good Day Ms Dickinson, 11/7/11

    I had occasion to read your response to a letter in the Star Tribune regarding a writer whose niece’s husband legally carries a self defense firearm. I must say I was extremely disappointed in your response, due to the fact that you admittedly only reached out to the Brady Campaign and published their viewpoint, one that references the results of several blatantly biased and long discredited ” studies ” that pro-port to show that loved ones or family members are significantly more likely to be harmed or killed by the presence of a firearm then it is to be used in self defense.

    By failing to perform even cursory due diligence on the Brady Campaign’s rhetoric, your response only served to further perpetuate a proven lie. Just a few short years ago, the Non Biased National Academy of Sciences produced a voluminous report entitled ” Firearms and Violence, A Critical Review ” In it, they examined every claim of groups like the Brady Campaign and found them all to be either intentionally misleading or in many cases completely fabricated. The National Academy report confirmed that no less then 700,000 times annually a law abiding gun owner uses a firearm for defense of himself or another person from a criminal act, usually without a shot being fired.

    While the serious injury or death of ANY child is a tragedy, the fact is that firearms do not even rank in the Top 10 of causes listed by the CDC for childhood injury or death.

    At the very least, it is my personal opinion that you had an obligation not only to the original letter writer, but also to your readership and the integrity of your profession to include a counter point for the Brady Campaign’s position in your published reply to the letter writer, as opposed to taking an active role in perpetuating a lie.

    I would be quite interested in speaking to you further and in more detail if you are interested in getting to the truth of the matter regarding firearms and self defense. If you would like to pursue this offer, by all means, please feel free to contact me by email.

    Sincerely,

    SOTR

  18. Heather from AK says:

    Haven’t really run into the situation, as both of our families live in different states that would make it either difficult or illegal to show up to the holiday dinner carrying.

    However, inlaws are coming here for Turkey this year. We’ll see how that goes.

  19. Teke175 says:

    I deal with several situations listed above. All on my wife’s side of the family. “THANK GOD”

    Her dad got his permit at the same time as me but has no understanding of the word discretion. We were standing in line in Gander 2 weeks ago to see the swamp people. He picks up the CC t-shirt of the rack and yells across the store to check this out, it may be useful. Location and people probably thought nothing of it. I just don’t like people yelling to me in public about my carrying.

    My wife was not comfortable with me carrying originally. She has since come to terms with it. She got mad when I forgot a magazine in my shorts that were laying on the sofa but said nothing about the carry just ticked that I left it lying around and with kids rightfully so.

    Her cousin is about as white progressive liberal as they come. They would have a coronary if they new I carried near them. Thank god I rarely see them and the wife doesn’t care if I upset them on political grounds. She does however try to keep my taunting to a minimum. And she won’t let me use the Obummer magnet on the fridge for a quick makeshift target in the field across the street from their house before returning it to the fridge.

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