The pro-gun lobby imagines guns as vaccines; in reality they’re the disease.

Weapons and military equipment for army, Assault rifle gun (M4A1) and pistol on camouflage background.

Today’s New York Times features an opinion piece by journalist Bethany Mandel entitled I Wanted to Be a Good Mom. So I Got a Gun.

She tells the standard “good guy with a gun” story from her childhood:

Guns don’t “immunize” against gun deaths; they make them MORE likely.

It was a spring night and I was sleeping with my window open, which was right above my bed; I loved breathing in the fresh air. That night, in that open window, I heard the banging of a ladder, and by the time my mother made it into the room and began loading her gun, a man was about to climb in.

She said something along the lines of: “Bethany, come over here. I don’t want you to get his brain matter on your face.” I backed up behind her and my mother raised her gun. The would-be intruder slowly backed down the ladder. As he climbed down, my mother approached. The barrel of her rifle was inches away from his face and she told him, “Next time you come here, I won’t hesitate.”

And she points out that she faces a known threat:

After years of receiving death threats for my conservative views, months of being attacked by the alt-right and then having our address published online by the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer, I pushed myself to finally go through the process of asking friends for letters attesting to my character, obtaining fingerprints and submitting to background checks.

I was given a reason to feel that I needed to defend myself and my family. And I acted on it.

Mandel, like many in the pro-gun lobby, seems to view guns as a vaccination against crime and violence. The thinking — at an unconscious level — is that a gun will protect its owner in the same way that a vaccine will protect its recipient. In both cases the potential victim will be armed and ready when the unwelcome intruder or disease comes to call.

Unfortunately Mandel, like most of the pro-gun lobby, has drawn the wrong analogy. A weapon in the home isn’t a vaccine against violence. It’s the disease!

But wait, you say, the connection between owning a gun and preventing victimization is just a matter of common sense. Science tells us differently and is filled with countless example of “common sense” views that were destroyed by careful scientific research. It was “common sense” for countless generations to believe that the Earth is flat since it seems flat. Scientific research showed otherwise. It was common sense for countless generations to believe that disease was caused by just about anything except its true cause: bacteria and viruses too small to see with the naked eye.

Similarly, it is common sense to believe that owning a gun is protective. Scientific evidence shows otherwise.

According to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia:

  • …In 2014, 2,549 children (age 0 to 19 years) died by gunshot and an additional 13,576 were injured…
  • Among children, the majority (89%) of unintentional shooting deaths occur in the home. Most of these deaths occur when children are playing with a loaded gun in their parent’s absence.
  • People who report “firearm access” are at twice the risk of homicide and more than three times the risk of suicide compared to those who do not own or have access to firearms.
  • Suicide rates are much higher in states with higher rates of gun ownership, even after controlling for differences among states for poverty, urbanization, unemployment, mental illness, and alcohol or drug abuse.
  • Among suicide victims requiring hospital treatment, suicide attempts with a firearm are much more deadly than attempts by jumping or drug poisoning — 90 percent die compared to 34 percent and 2 percent respectively…
  • States implementing universal background checks and mandatory waiting periods prior to the purchase of a firearm show lower rates of suicides than states without this legislation…
  • In states with increased gun availability, death rates from gunshots for children were higher than in states with less availability.
  • The vast majority of accidental firearm deaths among children are related to child access to firearms — either self-inflicted or at the hands of another child.
  • Domestic violence is more likely to turn deadly with a gun in the home. An abusive partner’s access to a firearm increases the risk of homicide eight-fold for women in physically abusive relationships.

Guns may protect people in certain situations, but overall they dramatically increase the risk of death. Claiming that the solution to a “bad guy with a gun” is a “good guy with a gun” is like claiming that the solution to a smallpox epidemic is to give everyone smallpox. True, you won’t catch smallpox from your neighbor if you already have it, but you’ll be just as dead when you die of smallpox given to you instead of caught by another.

Similarly if you own a gun you might be less likely to be shot by a stranger, but you’ll be far more likely to be shot by a family member or yourself. You’ll be just as dead whether the gun was held by friend or foe.

Guns are not vaccines. They don’t “immunize” you from gun violence. The gun is the disease. As a result owning a gun makes you and your family MORE likely to die from gun violence than to prevent it. That may not be “common sense,” but it is true nonetheless.

  • The Computer Ate My Nym

    If guns are like vaccines, they’re like the small pox vaccine, not the MMR: useful and arguably necessary to a small group of people with specific needs and risk of exposure (i.e. police or at least SWAT teams, soldiers, maybe people who live in rural areas with a thriving population of grizzly bears and rattlesnakes or who rely on hunting for food), but the risk outweighs the benefit for the general population.

  • Emilie Bishop

    The rest of the world has figured this out. Why is America so slow to pick up on it? Infuriating to no end!!!

  • Mishimoo

    Off-topic, but a huge thank you to everyone for the long-running discussions on research! The things I have learned from the comments section over the years have made this session’s research subject much less stressful. I just finished the online meeting in which I discovered that I already have a fair grasp on the subject material thanks to reading here.

  • Sue

    Pro Tip for getting fresh air through your bedroom window while not allowing people to climb in: get bars, a screen or a window lock. Prevent the intrusion. No need then to shoot.

    • Empress of the Iguana People

      oh, and a giant rose bush under your window isn’t a bad idea.

  • PeggySue

    It’s all quite bizarre really. One problem is that in many cases those who oppose gun control and those who favor gun control cannot agree on which sources of information are reputable, and therefore even data become sources of conflict. I have known, and do know, extremely responsible gun owners. One was my boss in an earlier job. He teaches firearm safety as a sideline and has said that the number of people who plan to own guns for personal protection is way, way bigger than the numbers that are suited by training or temperament to do so. I believe him. But so much fear is employed by the NRA and others–I know people who are absolutely terrified to go anywhere and hope against hope that there are people with concealed carry permits around to protect them. Given that in my state, as of earlier this week, anyone legally able to own a gun can carry concealed, and given that, before this week, the class to obtain a concealed carry permit did not require actual demonstration of proficiency with the weapon, I feel sort of differently.

  • Russell Jones

    Back in 1981, President Reagan was nearly killed by some gun-wielding nutjob who had the hots for Jodie Foster. If only there had been a good gu …

    Wait, never mind.

    • Who?

      That’s just mean.

      The poor NRA. Why would you want to talk logic like that to them?

      • Russell Jones

        I’m not being entirely mean about it. I am, after all, sending them thoughts and prayers. Oh, the lessons we can learn from Wonderella!

        http://nonadventures.com/

        • Who?

          Oh, if there are thoughts and prayers on the table, I take it back! What more could anyone do, right?

          That cartoon is perfect, thanks for sharing!

  • Who?

    It occurs to me that the NRA has a lot in common with homebirth hobbyists and snake oil salesmen.

    The pitch: You want the best? You want to be in control? Use our product.

    Unfortunately, the unreferenced provisos to the pitch are in a tiny font, on a separate document, possibly in a different universe.

    First proviso: You used our product and you still don’t feel right? You need more! Your family, friends and neighbours should be validating you by doing the same-if they are not, they are against you (see below). We, on the other hand, will always support you.

    Which leads in nicely to:

    Second proviso: You used our product and it went wrong? You must have used it wrong/followed the wrong guidance/not done your research. When that happens, you are a giant failure and no longer one of us. And sucks to be you if you didn’t see these perfectly fair, reasonable and thoughtful provisos before you signed up.

    As for everyone who doesn’t believe the pitch-well you are close-minded/ignorant/a hater of freedom and free speech. Which is all that matters about you.

  • mabelcruet

    As UK born and bred, I genuinely am bewildered as to why someone would want a gun in their home. I moved from the mainland to Northern Ireland in the middle of the ‘Troubles’ (mid 80s). At the time, the police in England weren’t routinely armed (they still aren’t) but the police in Northern Ireland were, and there were armed soldiers on patrol as well. Whenever I went to professional meetings with other pathologists from around the world, I was ALWAYS asked about working there and what was it like working and living in a war zone, and wasn’t I scared of being killed or shot or blown up?

    The modern day ‘Troubles’ started in 1969. Up to and including 2010, we had 3568 deaths related to the troubles (I haven’t found out how many were gun related and how many bomb related). 3568 deaths over 41 years in the most heavily weaponised and most militarised region of the UK. USA related gun deaths are multiples of that annually-I’m far more frightened to visit USA than I ever was living in Belfast.

    • Who?

      For me, part of it in the US is the randomness. At least during The Troubles, you knew (pretty much) who was out to get who. A passerby might have got mixed up in it (think of the two Australian lawyers murdered in Belgium in 1989, having been mistaken for British squaddies) but on the whole, there were recognisable sides.

      In the US, some toddler picks up a gun, or in the case of these mass shootings some cranky person (overwhelmingly a white male with one or more attitude issues) picks up a gun and the sadly predictable story writes itself.

      That said, I’m hoping to get to San Francisco (maybe, if I’m very lucky, with a trip to Washington and NY) later in the year, and I won’t hesitate a moment to go, or to get out and do lots of things.

    • Lilly de Lure

      I’m UK born and bred as well but visit the US regularly (my husband is from Ohio and all his family still live there) and the normalisations of guns in US culture is something I will never get used to (and I did actually grow up with a gun in the house – my family lived in a rural area and my dad went out shooting pheasants/rabbits etc regularly). Its so pervasive there that people don’t seem to notice that even the local news carries stories of shootings and near misses with guns pretty much every day and people just shrug at them the same way they do the weather forecast. That’s almost as disturbing as the level of gun violence on display – the sheer acceptance that this is just the way life is. At least in Belfast during the “Troubles” people were aware that they were in an extraordinary situation when people were being shot, blown up and kneecapped on a regular basis – they knew there was a problem it would be good to solve – in the US the “low level” every day gun violence just doesn’t seem to penetrate at all, it takes a horrendous massacre even to break the news.

  • Inmara

    I’m living in one of European countries where, similarly to others, gun laws are rather strict but not forbidding (i.e. if you really want you can own a gun after background checks, proving that you have safe storage space, completing courses etc.; hunters have their own vetting process to get hunting rifle). American obsession with guns seems so perplexing to us, especially the arguments behind assault and semi-automatic weapon ownership (hunting coyotes and other small game? really?).
    What my common sense tells is that in countries where gun ownership is rare and the process of getting one is bureaucratic, criminals still can get illegal weapons and use them to rob good citizens, but in that case the person with gun will be better at using it anyway. Meanwhile, some beginner criminals (drug addicts, petty thieves etc.) won’t have easy access to guns and thus will not be such a physical danger. At least in my (small, <2 million) country we have had only one public shooting by "ordinary citizens" in last years (argument between to men in cinema ended with one of them being shot), and there was one shootout between a gang and policemen where several people died. Other than that, gun deaths are extremely rare and general public doesn't feel the need to own a gun.

    • Amy

      Interestingly enough, my state (Massachusetts, same as Dr. Amy’s) has the strictest gun laws in the US, and they’re very similar to what you list– safety course and multi-level vetting required in order to get a license, all transactions (including private sales) conducted at a licensed retail outlet and background check and transaction reported at the time of sale, most powerful weapons banned. And not only do we have one of the lowest (if not the absolute lowest, I don’t know off the top of my head) rates of gun violence in the country, but we also affect the rates of gun violence in the three low-gun-control states (Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine) to the north of us, due to the fact that those three states are entirely surrounded by high-gun-control jurisdictions so the “bad guys” can’t sneak their guns in from out of state.

      Gun control WORKS. It’s so obvious at this point.

    • LA Julian

      There are statistics showing that only a tiny percentage of Americans own most of the guns – even most gun owners don’t have lots of guns, but there are enough gun hoarders to make up for it. And they’re irresponsible, the ones who fantasize about being ‘good guys with guns’ because there was just a study released about how gun accidents go down whenever there’s an NRA convention, because they’ve gone off to the gun show instead of being at home fondling their guns…

  • The Computer Ate My Nym

    Similarly if you own a gun you might be less likely to be shot by a stranger,

    What’s the evidence for this statement?

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      Hmm…found a couple of studies that concluded that the chances of being killed by a stranger don’t change with gun ownership, but the chances of being killed by a close relative go up dramatically.

  • The Computer Ate My Nym

    I note that in the story, the gun wasn’t loaded yet. If the intruder had been a tad more perceptive or less vulnerable to fast talk, he could easily have gotten the (unloaded) gun away from the mother and done whatever he was planning. And that he now would have a gun and greater physical strength. Fast talk saved the day, not a gun. Pushing the ladder off the window would have been faster and more reliable, as Who pointed out.

  • Who?

    I have been watching this gun debate unfold-again-and it makes me sick at heart.

    Presumably it didn’t occur to Mandel’s mother to push over the ladder with the offender on it (perhaps using a broom handle?) close the window and call the police? Who are these people?

    Every gun out there is a little piece of fear. Of your neighbours, strangers, or some ‘unknown’. There are people who seem to think that a gun is a force field.

    The bullets in the kind of weapon used in the recent Florida travel really fast, and really far. Any gun useful against that kind of weapon has to be faster and with better range, surely? Otherwise the ‘good guys’ are just target practice?

    I wish all the good guys with guns would join the NRA and clean it up. And stop being afraid of shadows.

    • MaineJen

      Here’s the thing. To the NRA, EVERY person with a gun is a “good guy with a gun,” until they’re not. Cruz would have been considered a good guy with a gun. After all, he had no criminal record! He was an NRA good ole boy…until he walked into that school. Then he suddenly became mentally ill. Funny how that works.

    • mabelcruet

      I read the responses from combat personnel and veterans to Trump’s suggestion to arm teachers. It seems to me (as someone who has never handled a gun) that actually learning how to operate one is the easy bit, the most important part of training is learning how to behave in a tactical situation, how to respond instinctively and proficiently and that needs training and practising daily, weekly sustained over many months and years, not just a weekend course. You can draw an analogy with cardiopulmonary resuscitation teams-technically, lots of us have basic training in it. But to be part of an effective response team, you have to train and practise and run simulations and scenarios until the teams work instinctively. Stopping practice for more than a short time and you’d rapidly lose effectiveness.

      Putting guns in classrooms and turning teachers into an amateur militia? And this was his big idea, instead of saying ‘what possible reason can justify public access to military grade automatic assault rifles?’ Gun control works. It worked in the UK after Dunblane. Since 1996, gun killings in the UK are less than a third of what they were, we have around 30 gun homicides in the whole UK per year, and most of those are shotgun, not hand gun. Exactly the same happened in Tasmania and Australia-since gun control laws were brought in there have been no mass shootings in these countries. It works, it’s do obvious it works. Yes, there are still bad guys with guns, but very very few of them.

  • Empress of the Iguana People

    The amount of times i had to grab something from one of my kids because i had the temerity to take a leak alone between 730a and 630p when i’m the lone adult in the house. *shakes head* I keep my scissors and my kitchen knives 5+ ft off the floor, but they’ve gotten hold of everything at one time or another.
    Being smart and determined puzzle solvers is an awesome trait but it’s terrifying for your parents when you’re small.

  • attitude devant

    There’s another interesting takeaway in the story. She started to fill out the paperwork to buy a gun several times but it was always too much trouble until recently. If we make small barriers they do effectively reduce the numbers of guns bought. If someone is bent on murder, or suicide, that delay or barrier can save lives.

    • Sarah

      Yes, I’d heard that the number of suicides by paracetamol overdose has decreased since the UK introduced laws to prevent people from buying more than a couple of packs at a time. I always thought it was a stupid law, because if I was that set on killing myself I could just go to another shop, then repeat and rinse until I had enough. And it can be inconvenient if you’re shopping when there are a couple of ill people in the house- more than once I have been refused three items containing paracetamol, because of this law. If you have a household with a couple of ill people in it, you might easily want more than two items containing paracetamol. But apparently it does deter some suicidal people.

      • Empress of the Iguana People

        its hard enough to get motivated to walk to the first shop for me.

        • Sarah

          Especially if you’re ill and the paracetamol is for you!

          • mabelcruet

            Try buying it online-I was ordering some fancy skin care stuff online and the shop had a pharmacy section. I thought I’d add in some painkillers, indigestion remedy, laxative etc, topping up the medicine cabinet. I had to do a questionnaire and swear that I’d follow the instructions to the letter, and then tell them what I wanted it for, what I had tried for my condition before, what side effects I’d had before, what other medication I was taking. And then they refused to sell me brufen because of prescribed medication I’m on. In the end I gave up and just got the fancy skin stuff. I know they have to be cautious and that the UK has very strict regulations on distance selling of pharmaceuticals but it was a bit of a palaver for a packet of aspirin.

          • Who?

            Apropos of nothing, and to prove how impossibly shallow I am, I love fancy skin stuff. Have you tried The Ordinary http://theordinary.com/? I’m busting to but can’t work out how to pay, will need to get IT wizz husband to work it out for me.

          • mabelcruet

            It was REN. I’m addicted to their Moroccan Rose range, its just so gorgeous. And there’s no point just ordering one bottle of shower oil, it’d be unfair making the postman walk all that way to your door with just one bottle of stuff, you have to make it worth his while….

          • Who?

            Do love REN. Enjoy it!

      • mabelcruet

        As far as I recall, there was an alternative plan put forward to make paracetamol tablets with acetylcysteine in (that’s the antidote to paracetamol toxicity) but it would have made the paracetamol too expensive, so the limited pack numbers was the cheaper option. The problem is when you are stocking up the medicine cabinet in Tescos, and you try and buy a pack of paracetamol and a pack of aspirin and they refuse point blank because they can’t sell you two packs together-but I suppose its good that they do keep an eye on it.

        • Sarah

          I’ve sometimes been doing a big supermarket shop with my husband, and we’ve not been able to buy all the paracetamol products we want, so one of us buys most of the shop and the other one buys the excess in a separate transaction. We leave the shop with the exact same amount of paracetamol we’d have had if they’d let us buy it all together. It is a touch farcical at times.

          • Mishimoo

            We have had pharmacists refuse to sell ibuprofen and diclofenac in the same transaction even though we’d never take them together, so my husband and I do a similar thing.

  • MaineJen

    People who think they can “hide” their loaded gun well enough that their children can’t find it…are kidding themselves.

    Think back to your childhood. You knew where EVERYTHING in your house was. Even the stuff your parents had carefully hidden and thought you didn’t know about. Think about those christmas presents you try to hide every year. If it’s in the house, the kids WILL find it.

    • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

      Diane Sawyer on 20/20 did a special several years ago, I think it was called “Young Guns”. They had on a group of kids, ages about 12 to 18. I believe all the parents owned guns. The answers the kids gave were eye-opening and kind of terrifying. Even some of the kids whose parents kept the gun and bullets stored separately and locked up, knew where the keys and the guns and ammo were kept, and had taken the keys and got the gun and bullets and played around with them…. And their parents never knew.

      • PeggySue

        Whoa, that is not surprising, but it IS terrifying.

      • Kq

        It’s scary. We’ve taught gun safety all along, and I give my 7 year old pop quizzes sometimes. And still…

        Me: what do you do if you find a gun or see a gun?
        Kid: tell an adult!
        Me: what if your friend says “come look at my [parent’s] gun?
        Kid: tell an adult!
        Me: what if your friend says “come look at my [parent’s] gun, [parent] says it’s ok?
        Kid: … Just look at it and don’t touch?

        • Who?

          It’s something I haven’t experienced as a parent, as the only parents with guns here would be police officers, who almost always leave their sidearms in the gun-safe at work.

          So I’m asking sincerely-what is the correct answer to the last question?

          • MaineJen

            I would say, “Leave the house. Or call me to come get you.” I don’t want my kids hanging out in any place where kids are allowed to handle guns.

          • Who?

            That makes sense.

          • Kq

            The issue we are working on is what another child says, not what is actually permissable. Because we know the parents where he goes and none of them would allow a kid to handle guns (most don’t even have any). It’s more towards the long view – get the rules in while he’s little so when he’s a dumb teenage boy hanging out with other dumb teenagers, hopefully he’ll make good choices. Sigh.

          • Who?

            Now I get where you’re coming from, and yes that makes sense. If nothing else telling an adult-or saying they are going to-breaks the spell of the moment.

          • Mishimoo

            Same here! It’s why my middle daughter’s friend is welcome to sleep over here, but I am really iffy about letting my daughter visit her friend’s home without one of us. Some may think it’s overprotective, but her friend’s father believes he is a “good guy with a gun” so I’m not willing to risk it.

          • Who?

            Yikes, that is tricky. Not overprotective at all.

          • Mishimoo

            Thanks! We were talking about what to do in a break-in, and middle kiddo piped up “My friend’s dad will just get his gun and shoot the burglar” which prompted a discussion of how implausible that scenario actually is, how we’d handle a break-in, and spurred our private decision about visiting. If he has his gun THAT accessible (especially since the kids know where it is), I don’t feel comfortable letting my kid visit their house.

            (The fellow in question has visited our place and is rather vocal about his beliefs and gun ownership. The kid wasn’t bragging)

          • Who?

            That’s not good. As though this is the Wild West. I can see why you would be uncomfortable about that.

            Good luck with your studies!

          • Mishimoo

            Exactly! We live in a fairly affluent suburb too, so while break-ins are a concern, it’s not really that worrisome.

            Thanks! I’m feeling much more confident about this session – I keep underestimating myself, which is frustrating but good because at least I’m open to learning new things.

          • Who?

            I just hope I’m out if we ever have a break-in. The advice used to be hide/pretend to be asleep/get out quietly without confrontation, which makes perfect sense to me.

            Humility is a great asset generally, particularly useful when learning something new.

          • Mishimoo

            I’m the opposite – one of us needs to be home if there is a break-in, if only to reduce the risk to the person breaking in from our large dogs. Realistically, I’m the better option because I have more skill in effectively handling stressful situations. I don’t care too much about things being stolen, they’re just things, but I don’t want our dogs to need to be euthanised due to their protective reactions.

          • Who?

            Good point, actually. My little dog would more likely lick them to death. Do you think the dogs would be euthanised for biting intruders?

            I’m the same re the stuff-that’s why we have insurance.

          • Mishimoo

            You might be surprised – my worst bites have been from little dogs! My dogs are weimaraners, and they’re the largest they can be while still conforming to the breed standard. They mostly live inside with us because they’re ‘velcro’ dogs, and they’re staunchly protective of us. While they’re not vicious dogs, they could still quite easily severely injure someone given the right motivation, so I do worry about them being put in that situation.

            Speaking of which: this evening, Danny alerted to something (or someone) in the yard – it wasn’t his lizard/cane toad reaction or snake whine, it was his concerned bark which brought his back-up running (Hailie is still hanging on!). I called him in, locked the doors, and turned all the lights on. I couldn’t see anything, but our yard is full of plants, and he was fidgety for a while.

          • Kq

            Tell an adult, because a kid saying “my [parent] says it’s ok” is meaningless. We have also emphasized that NO ONE should have a gun around him and we have talked about it with parents of places he goes without us (not many tbh, we are more likely to host than visit because we’re homebodies anyway)

    • Heidi

      Totally. I remember as a teenager being punished by not being allowed on the computer. My dad thought he was real clever having locks installed on the office doors. He always put his keys on the dresser when he got home from work and showered. So one day while he was showering, I got the key, went to Walmart, had a copy made and put the original back. He never knew a thing.

      • Hannah

        I had a friend who was really good at picking the lock to their den. Her mom finally gave up and grounded her by *cancelling their internet service* for the duration of her grounding. Of course, that only worked at their house, so she then spent a lot of time ‘doing homework’ at mine.

        Funnily enough, passing messages to her online friends is how I ended up meeting my husband.

      • BeatriceC

        I own guns but they’re stored at a gun storage facility in a different state from where I live. I pay a monthly fee to have them there, bonded, licensed and secured. Basically it’s a safe deposit box just for guns. If I ever want to bring them into my house, I’d buy a two factor lock gun safe. I wouldn’t feel safe without a combination and a biometric lock of some sort (fingerprint, or eye scan if that ever becomes a consumer thing). I’d actually probably want three safes: one for the guns themselves, one for the clips, and one for ammunition. I own the guns for sport, and clearly don’t need to have them around, as I haven’t wanted to bother with California laws bringing them into the state.

        • Empress of the Iguana People

          But California! That den of iniquity! And “bad hombres”.
          /sarcasm, for any lurkers who may not be sure.

        • Mishimoo

          Your three safe solution is similar to our standard storage. From talking to the guys at the gun store, though Who? may correct this: guns go in one safe, ammunition in another safe elsewhere in the house, and the keys go into a third safe. The only people who should be able to gain access to the keys must have a license. Police can and will conduct random spot checks, and if an unlicensed person provides access to the guns/ammo/key safes, you lose everything. Honestly? That’s the way things should be.

    • Roadstergal

      Supercross is having a little special going called Makeup To Mud, focusing on female motocrossers. The last episode was a girl who wanted to ride, but her dad forbade her from doing so. When he was at work, then, she’d take his truck and MX bike out to the dirt park; she taught herself to ride and was getting pretty good by the time he found out. Kids are expert at takin’ yer shit when you’re not looking.

    • Zornorph

      I can honestly say I never found where my mother hid the Christmas presents and God knows, I looked.

      • MaineJen

        I don’t think my parents tried very hard to hide them…I accidentally stumbled upon them more than once. I had to pretend to be surprised xmas morning.

      • Empress of the Iguana People

        Mom’s hiding places were limited and she started shopping in the summer. It was easier on the budget to spread out the expenditure and our birthdays are in the winter. She kept the summer-bought wrapped up and on the top shelf of the hall closet.
        She’d also very occasionally give us one of those presents early.

    • Mishimoo

      I completely agree. As an adult, I am appalled at the lack of gun safety my parents had. I knew where the gun was kept, but I was never interested in playing with it or touching it. The same can’t be said for my little brother! He once filled all the old locks in the house with buckshot, and poked it into every space he could. We’re lucky nothing worse happened, especially since my father kept his loaded guns in an old wardrobe which was often unlocked and left open.

      Thank goodness for the law change after Port Arthur and the subsequent buyback scheme! My father was actually almost charged while submitting his guns because one was illegally altered – it was a very short sawn-off semi-automatic shotgun. Imagine if a toddler had managed to lay hands on it.

      • Lilly de Lure

        Agreed, although I grew up in the UK my dad had a hunting rifle that he used on the local pheasant and rabbit population (this was prior to the Hungerford massacre when he gave it up). I was fascinated by it and by the time I was 7 I knew where he kept it, where he kept the ammunition (he kept that separately) and the combination for his gun safe. I used to unlock the cabinet, look at and touch it regularly when my parents were out and they never knew. Thank god I had just enough sense (or fear of discovery) not to go downstairs with it to where the ammunition was kept and start experimenting with trying to load the thing.

        • Mishimoo

          Yikes!! That’s exactly why we don’t have guns. We’ll need them for pest control when we have a farm, but the kids will be old enough to learn proper safety from their dad (and classes) by then.

          My husband misses having guns, but it’s just not worth the risk of having them in the house without a good reason. He grew up learning to shoot on a farm in the English country gentleman-style, for lack of a better term, with the gun broken open over an arm unless actively shooting at something. His granddad taught him that if you can’t snap it closed, aim, and make a clean shot: you should’t be shooting, and it’s a skill he’s looking forward to passing along if/when the kids are old enough and want to learn how to shoot.