A good question

In the comments here, Mike asks the following question:

My wife had a trauma involving firearms also, and has not recovered yet. While working as an ER doc in Baltimore, she assisted on a case where a young man found a revolver in a park, took it home, was playing with it, and shot his younger brother. The gunshot victim got his chest and abdomen opened in the ER to stop bleeding – and died weeks later of overwhelming sepsis. Not something anyone would want to watch. She still won’t handle guns although she accepts that I have an interest in them. Any suggestions as to how to get her past her dislike of firearms?

I don’t have any easy answers to a question like that – for people who have experience the visceral impact of crime, and have personally witnessed the damage that can be caused by negligence and abuse, it is not easy to separate the thing (the gun) from the action.

I would offer the following advice though. Foremost, don’t push her. If she’s not interested in guns, don’t push her to go shooting, or drag her to the gun shop. At the same time, don’t let her blame the gun for what happened. In her particular case, the appropriate person to blame would be the asshole who left a loaded gun out where it could be found by anyone, and also the parents who didn’t teach their children to never play with guns.

Again though, don’t push her. Be gentle, and try to take whatever opportunities to gently reinforce that guns themselves are not evil or good, and posses no inherent will of their own. I would also recommend that your wife get counseling in a professional setting – dealing with the death of a child in a case in which a person is personally involved is not easy.

If you guys have any answers to Mike’s question, please post them in the comments.

My answers are the answers of someone who is not a medical professional; and thusly may be really bad.  All I can tell you is how I personally would handle the situation.  Honestly, I’d love to hear Dr. Helen‘s opinion on this.


  1. Ugh…more fodder for the antis of Baltimore, unfortunately. Too bad the antis don’t realize that nary a RKBA activist thinks our rights absolve us of the duty to be careful with our gear.

  2. This is personal for me. My mother was sitting on her dads lap when an unloaded shotgun tipped over and discharged through his back. My mother and 2 of her brothers were peppered with lead pellets. My grandfather was killed instantly. She was adamant about all of her children being able to safely and respectfully handle firearms. She never tried to pass on her distaste and reasonable fear of them. But there was no horsing around, period. I was about 10 when I saw her shoot a gun for the only time in my life. A lever action 32 special at a pot lid about 100 yards away. She pinged it every time. My uncle said she was a better shot then any of her brothers and we should pay close attention to her instructions. I did. I hope I have also passed that on to my children. Mike is in a tough but common spot. He needs to just keep reinforcing that it was someone mishandling the firearm that caused the death. As an ER doc I would bet she has seen other accidental deaths involving other tools (air nailers, saws, jacks, cars, etc). My experience is that with other then firearms, people develop a very healthy respect for dangerous tools after seeing the results of them being misused. Firearms are no different. Being able to confidently deal with a strange firearm that a child or other adult produces is a definite survival tool of its own. The same as the knowledge of what to do if you were to see someone bleeding profusely or being electrocuted. Just things that we as people need to know.

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