I’m always surprised when I receive emails from men about their marriages although it happens pretty regularly. Sharing a household, finances, and parenting is usually easier when you have a shared value system, and some partnerships are stressed over the presence of firearms in the home. Several men have reached out for help in talking with their wives about guns. Here is an example:
I hope you can help me. My wife despises guns. I grew up with guns, starting with BB rifles and little CO2 pistols. I usually do my gun related tasks including range trips while she’s at work because she hates them and by extension, hates a very large part of who I am. I’ve sent her links to your site. I took her to the range in an attempt to prove that they’re tools and have countless uses OTHER than murdering people. I’ve gotten little .380s and .32s instead of the 9mm and .45 I personally prefer in an effort to find something, anything, that might not be so “scary”. It doesn’t seem to make any difference. Short of someone else who can find a way to get through to her, I think this marriage is doomed.
I’m not a marriage counselor and I can’t say whether a marriage is doomed. I understand how your wife feels and I can maybe try to provide a new perspective to help bridge the divide.
I shared her feelings for many, many years. I didn’t entertain the idea of guns in our home with our three children. I didn’t let my kids play with toy guns. I felt that our society was too violent. I didn’t understand the purpose of anyone having a firearm; I didn’t live in the country or in a bad area of town. It wasn’t until after Hurricane Katrina, when I saw a modern American city debilitated overnight, when first responders were unable to (or didn’t) respond, and families were on their own that I realized my vulnerability.
I started storing peanut butter and tuna fish in case our city ever suffered an outage of any kind. My husband asked, “How are we going to stop someone with a gun from coming and taking our food and water that you’ve stored for our kids?” I didn’t have an answer to that and I suddenly realized that I needed to focus less on what was happening “out there” in the world with other people’s children and I needed to focus my attention on what was best for mine.
This was a MAJOR mental shift for me. Honestly, I felt like I sold out. Since your wife is my age, she probably also grew up watching The Smurfs, Strawberry Shortcake, Fraggle Rock, and other shows where everyone contributes to the greater community. Society needs to be better for all children, not just mine. We must all give up a little freedom so that we can all be safer.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, I saw on the news a woman handing her young children over to a stranger to get them on a bus out of NOLA because the situation was so desperate at the Super Dome with limited food and water and increasing violence and death. My heart shattered for her and I cried for hours. Something inside me changed that day and I promised my children that we would never be in that situation. Over the next few weeks, I decided that I would have nonperishables and water in the house and Daddy would have a firearm to keep us safe until things settled down. And, no, we don’t live in a coastal city, but our infrastructure is vulnerable. And, no, I had no intention to touch the firearm, but was open for the first time to having one in our home.
After any natural disaster, it is easy to see how close our modern society is to chaos. There is an immediate and dramatic increase in violent crime and looting when a community’s 911 system is overburdened. This creates a palpable fear for those who rely on the police to protect them. On typical days with good weather, there is still political divisiveness and religious/cultural tensions that can be very scary. Mental health resources are lacking and some in our community are isolated and unstable.
My new reality acknowledges that I can give up all my rights for a better society, but others won’t. There are simply people out there who are never going to play by the rules. Criminals do not care about the greater society and will take what they can. I want to live in a society where everyone is good and safe, but I am no longer ignorant to the risks that danger may come to my door. I used to hope, pray, and expect our home to be safe because of the good people inside of it. Now I know that if someone comes in my home to threaten my family, I will, within the law, use the ultimate equalizer to stop him.
It’s really sweet of you to “downgrade” to a .380, but a smaller caliber isn’t any less lethal in your wife’s mind. Until she’s ready to make that mental shift to being her own first responder, all guns will be scary. Their existence makes her feel unsafe because she equates all shootings as negligent, criminal, or harmful to the greater community, instead of protective and ensuring the safety of your individual home.
If she’s not ready to be her own first responder, then perhaps you can discuss how you want to be the family’s first responder. You want to be empowered to protect the ones you love. If something happens, you can respond in seconds, rather than depending on the police who are minutes away (if they are called, if they respond).
This was my journey:
1. Acknowledging my family’s vulnerability in our modern society.
2. Accepting that not everyone plays by the rules.
3. Wanting my family to have immediate protection.
4. Being willing to take that responsibility by learning about firearms.
She may never get to #4, but if she gets to #3 it sounds like you’ll find common ground.
The best thing you can do is to give your wife time to change her mind. Heck, it took my husband more than 10 years! But changes can and do happen. : )
Hope this helps.