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I’ve been doing this playdate thing for 10 years. I’ve been at playdates where the kids never even glanced at each other, never mind actually played.

I’ve sat at a playdate with a German nanny who spoke no English while I stared at my phone which had no reception for an hour and a half.

I once hosted a playdate where upon conclusion our 7 year old guest declared it “the most boring playdate ever.”

I’ve dropped off, picked up, hosted and cleaned up many many times but what I’ve rarely done is ask about guns.

Yes, guns.

Because I don’t know. It feels awkward. “Hey thanks for having my kid over! Oh do you have any firearms in your home not stored properly?”

Plus the mom usually seems so nice and normal and has a cute haircut.  How could she have a gun lying around?

But the truth is… two children die almost every week in unintentional shootings according to a study by Everytown for Gun Safety.


So how are we not asking this question?! How am I not asking this question?

We have to start talking about gun safety with other parents. Even if they are nice and have cute haircuts.

And it doesn’t actually have to be awkward. According to GunSafe Mom, have a private (not in front of the kids) conversation with the other parent hours before the playdate. This is not a conversation to have at the door as you are dropping your kid off.

And the conversation can go something like this…

“Start off friendly. “Hey, Angela! Sophie is really excited about the playdate. Anything I can send with her?” Break the ice, then preface other safety issues, like whether or not your child has food allergies or if she’s scared of dogs. Then say, ‘This may sound odd, but it’s a safety issue — do you guys have any guns in your home?’ (Courtesy of The Stir)

See that’s not so bad. Especially because it could save your kid’s life.

And this isn’t an issue of whether you believe in owning guns or not. It doesn’t really matter. It’s about making sure all of our children are safe.

That way when our kids head off to a playdate, they can wonder about things like…

Will my friend’s mom give me access to the delicious trifecta combo of Nutella, Marshmallow Fluff and M & M’s that my own mother has denied me for so long?

Will we be allowed to watch endless amounts of TV until our eyeballs fall out?

Will we get to draw superheroes on the wall of the playroom like my friend absolutely promised?

We parents will worry about the other stuff.

(For more info, check out GunSafe Mom and this article on the Stir.)

45 Responses to the question you need to ask before dropping your kid off for a playdate (it’s about guns)

  • Penny says:

    Kelcey, I’m so very glad you are addressing this. I am horrified by the daily news of another child being shot by a friend, a sibling, etc. My daughter is 34, and 25 years ago, when she was about 9 and having a new friend over, the mom called in advance and asked if we had guns in the house. I was startled, then said “No, but what an excellent question.” After that, I always asked, and my daughter now asks in regards to her children. Yes it can be uncomfortable, but a little discomfort versus your child’s safety, is a no brainer. This conversation needs to be happening, not only with people you don’t know, but with friends. The more we can talk openly about this, the more opportunities we have to keep these senseless tragedies from happening.

  • Patrick says:

    This is SUCH an important post. Thank you. Pay no mind to the NRA when they try to silence you. I hope you will follow up with a second post addressing “What to teach your children to do if they find a gun in a house”.

  • Lanie says:

    Thank you so much for this post Kelc. If you talk to any parent who has outlived their child/children they will always want to somehow change places with their child or change the events that happened leading to their child’s death.

    This question will change those events and save lives. Just Ask. xo

  • Becky says:

    This is spot on! When I was in 6th grade I went to a friends house. She had a single mom and for safety kept a gun in her bedside drawer. We live in the land of pretty haircuts so my mom never thought to ask since she too was a single mom opting to not own a gun. Anyway, we took it out and played with it for a while. To this day I don’t know if that gun was loaded or not. I told my mom when she picked me up because I thought it was exciting and thrilling to play with a real gun. I will never for get the look on her face of panic. Now I am a mom and will have no problem tastefully asking if they have a gun and is it properly stored!

  • Jeneen says:

    Excellent question!

    I’m curious what you do when they say yes, but it’s locked up? Do you trust them? Again, just curious how you guys react to an answer or yes.

  • I actually did grow up in a house with guns and my father still has them. He always makes sure they are locked away when my kids come over (which is often). I think it’s an excellent question to ask, I don’t think any of my friends’ parents ever asked in the 70’s and 80’s. And even growing up around them, I wouldn’t think to ask. I will now.

  • Tracy says:

    It’s not an odd question and is always a good conversation to have. We have firearms. I expect this question and will happily explain our safety measures. Personally, I’d probably text them a photo of our safe too. I wouldn’t be offended if someone declined a play date after learning we have firearms either. Not in the least. I might suggest we reschedule when they can host, or maybe meet at a park instead. It’s not a big deal – at all.
    I would suggest everyone talk to their kids about guns, even if you don’t own them yourself. When asked, every kid should be able to respond with “don’t touch and tell an adult.”
    Happy play dates to all! 🙂

  • Princess Judy says:

    It’s not just young kids you have to worry about. My friend and I were 15 when we used the phone in my dad’s den with a fully loaded 9 mm on the shelf. My friend was talking to her mother, rolling her eyes and making faces when she reached over grabbed the gun. She had planned to mime shooting herself in the head. I pointed it at the ceiling and grabbed it away from her. I had no idea that *anyone* let alone someone who was 15 would consider a gun a toy. We were raised with gun safety and knowing the lethality of them. She’d never been around one before. It was really such an eye opener.

  • Tracy says:

    Interesting. My first thought in that situation was why on Earth was a LOADED .9mm left unattended?!!! Unloaded weapons aren’t even left unattended in our house. Safety is solely the gun owner’s responsibility.

  • hokgardner says:

    When my husband was 14, his 12 yo brother and a buddy were playing with my father-in-law’s gun, which had been left unsecured. No one is altogether sure what happened, other than my husband’s brother ended up dying from a gun shot to the head.

    Lock up your guns, ask if other people have locked up theirs.

  • I don’t do this, because – frankly – any person stupid enough to leave guns lying around where kids can get them is also capable of lying about it. Or, they will tell you the guns are secure, but they aren’t. I don’t think you can get an honest answer to this question, particularly if the parent was looking forward to his/her child having a playmate around for the afternoon. “Oh, yes, we have a gun, but it is locked up and unloaded!” What do you do then? Demand to see where it is? Or do you trust that this is the truth?

  • daphne says:

    I did ask this years ago when girls were little and I still controlled who they hung out with. It blows my mind that we have to, but guns are killing our kids – we’re the only ones charged with protecting them.

  • Laurie says:

    I have always asked the gun question. Honestly I prefer to manage the play dates and have them at my house. And I don’t wait for the parents to ask me. I offer it up in advance of arranging a get together that way no one has to feel awkward (well except maybe me because I always do but that is because my social skills suck).

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