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My interests include veganism and vegetarianism, health, ethics, politics and culture, media, and the environment. I have three kids; I teach college part-time, study piano and attempt to garden. I knit. I blog on just about anything, but many posts are related to my somewhat pathetic quest to eat better, be more mindful of the environment, and be a more responsible news consumer. Sometimes I write about parenting, but, like so many Mommy bloggers, my kids have recently told me not to. :) Thanks for reading.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


My son has a new friend.  NICE kid.  Goofy sense of humor.  Polite and responsible.  Puts his dishes in the sink without being asked and takes off his shoes at the front door too.  Gets along well with all my kids.  I enjoy having him over. 

So, I was kinda taken aback when, out of the blue, he says "I shot a goose this morning for fun." 

The boys were playing a game on the computer in the kitchen while I was making PB&J sandwiches.  I spun around.  WHAT?!!!

"Well, not with a *real* gun," he tells me.  "Just an air gun."

Mind you I have *NO* guns in the house, other than two small squirt guns.  In my opinion, *any* gun more powerful than a supersoaker should not be in a house, and definitely not where a child could get their hands on it.

(I don't even know what the hell an air gun is.)

"Did you kill it?" I asked.

"No," he said, "but I did kinda hurt it."  He motioned with his arms, indicating that perhaps one wing was injured.

I didn't bother pointing out that if he hurt it, he might as well have killed it because it probably won't be able to defend itself or fly or might suffer a slow painful death.

I just asked, "Why, honey?  WHY?"

He suddenly looked sad.  As if that had never occurred to him.  "My parents told me I shouldn't do that again.  They were mad at me.  It just seemed fun."

"FUN"?  "Barbaric" is a better word.  But I'm also very sure that he's not the first boy (or girl) to think that shooting an animal is "fun".

I said, "Well, the goose probably didn't think it was 'fun'.  Next time, think of how the animal might feel."

"Yeah," he said.  He looked tearful, so I didn't say anything more.

This is not a deranged kid.  He's not being raised by crazy parents, either (Mom's a doctor; Dad's a nurse and they've both done medical stints in Africa).  These are GOOD, caring people. 

But for some reason, the parents have a gun in their house and their kids (at least the oldest) have access to it.

My kids will not be playing over there until I have assurances that a) all guns are LOCKED away, b) kids have no access to the keys to said locks, and c) ammunition is stored somewhere else.

Which means, of course, that my kid may never get to go over to their house.

I pray the goose died quickly.  :(


  1. This is sad, but hopeful too. It sounds as though you said all that he needed to hear.

  2. Perhaps a gun safety course is in order. The Oregon department of fish and wildlife offers one for ten dollars per person. Their web page encourages parents and children to take the class together. I took one with my dad when I was a kid and have it helped to develop my understanding about how gun operate and the leathal potential they possess. Your sons friends ignorance seems to be a result of not fully comprehending the devistating power shooting at a creature holds. Truly, if education frees one from ignorance, isn't a solid foundation about the power guns hold in order? I suspect you will be living in Oregon for a while and this friend will not be the first person your son encounters whose family owns guns. One note however, the hunters satety course offered in your area may not be appropriate for kids under eleven.

  3. Wow. It just puts into perspective that the way we raise our own children doesn't always apply to other parents and their own families. I think you did the right thing, by encouraging him to think of the animals feelings. Our society glorifies the whole "top of the food chain" thing and I think that can be dangerous because children can misconstrue that.

    Just gives me a little insight to what my future as a vegan mom might be like with 2 boys. I have yet to deal with that since they are only 3 yrs. and the youngest is 18 months lol

  4. I agree that the child should not have had the gun. But, the goose may be okay. If it was a "soft" airgun (the kind they sell at sport chalet), it probably shot a plastic BB at about 92 feet per second. If that's the case,the goose probably felt a stinging sensation and was not seriously hurt. Still, I question the child's maturity and his discretion. Clearly, he should not have shot another living creature. I would not let your child play other there, PERIOD. The parents may tell you the gun is locked away, then let the kids play with it without your knowledge or consent. Better safe than sorry.

  5. What this young boy went through is a learning process that many boys go through. When you are young you only think about yourself, no matter how much your parents show or tell you otherwise.
    I remember shooting a bird with a Daisy BB gun as a kid and it died. I felt so bad that I never shot another creature again. I didn't think about the other creature until I saw it laying on the ground.
    These lessons are the ones that are difficult for us, but they are the only thing that has a profound enough impact on us to make a lasting impression.

    I think before you start going off half cocked (pun intended) you should get the details from the parents. What kind of gun is it really? Is the boy allowed free rain with the gun? Is the gun stored somewhere by the parents and they let the boy shoot with it only after he asks?
    Guns are a tool. Granted they are a tool with the primary use of killing beings. Are you concerned about the kitchen knives as well? Or maybe there is a lawn mower in the shed?
    There are a lot of dangerous things out there, and it would be bad if someone lost an eye, but I think that you might be reacting a little quickly on this without all the details.

  6. Update: I asked the Mom about the incident and about guns in their house. She said, "He told you WHAT?! We don't have ANY guns other than one pop gun and a few squirt guns." I breathed a huge sigh of relief. She then went on to say that in the field near their house (huge field -- I've seen it), geese often visit. Her son took the pop gun and aimed it at the goose and the goose apparently shook her wings (the kid interpreted that as an indication that he had hurt the goose, which I also interpreted). There is A) no way the kid actually hurt the goose and B) the family does not own guns or let kids play with real guns (air or otherwise).

    I am super-relieved.


Politeness is always appreciated.