[ED: We originally ran this post back in November, 2016, but it’s every bit as good today. Enjoy.]
New York Times scribe Philip Galanes writes a regular column called “Social Q’s” in the Grey Lady’s Fashion & Style section. It’s kind of a “Dear Abby” style column addressing readers’ question about social etiquette.
Last week, an aghast correspondent asked how to handle a Thanksgiving guest who (gasp!) might be carrying a gun.
My brother-in-law is a police officer. He carries a gun, even off duty. He comes to visit us once a year. I told my sister I do not feel comfortable having a gun in the house. (I have a small child.) She said she would talk to her husband, but I doubt she has. What should I do?
No doubt Anonymous’ sister rolled her eyes at the anxiety in her sibling’s voice when the question was presented. Here’s Mr. Galanes’ response . . .
Follow up. Ask, “How did Jim feel about leaving his gun at home?” In the event of pushback (or noncommittal dithering), add: “We know that Jim is a responsible gun owner. We just don’t want guns in our home.” If you continue to believe she’s shining you on, install a metal detector at the front door. Happy Thanksgiving!
To say that Mr. Galanes’ response is woefully inadequate to the task at hand is an understatement. Lord knows a person has a right to dictate the terms of entry to their own private property, but one usually invites close family over with few conditions.
Here’s my advice to Anonymous . . .
First ask: what is it about your brother-in-law possessing a firearm that makes you uncomfortable? Maybe if you can articulate that to yourself — and then to your sister — you might find that she and her husband have answers to your concerns about safety around guns that make you see that a firearm holstered on the hip of a good guy — a cop in this case — is actually a net gain to society.
Another variable to consider: how many times has Anonymous been around your brother-in-law when he was carrying a firearm with no bad results?
On the other hand, if no reassurance is possible (either because the brother-in-law actually isn’t a trustworthy person, or because Anonymous simply is possessed with an irrational phobia that requires treatment by a professional, not straightforward answers from reasonable people), perhaps making this clear to the invitees might prompt them to either compromise for the sake of indulging family on a holiday.
Or maybe they’ll simply decide to go elsewhere for Thanksgiving. If the gun rearlly is a deal-breaker for attending a family dinner, the latter might be best for all involved.
Lord knows we’ve had enough of smashmouth politics in the past few years to last us a while. Trying to be a little forgiving and understanding of our family on Thanksgiving for the benefit of all sides involved would be a very good thing.
After all, we are the ones who are winning, n’est-ce pas?