Family Or Friends Celebrating Thanksgiving Day Clinking Glasses
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[ED: This post originally ran in November, 2016, but is wonderfully evergreen. 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 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. 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 terms of entry to her own private property. But one usually invites close family over with few conditions.

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 gun safety 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 is actually not a trustworthy person, or because Anonymous simply is possessed with an irrational phobia that requires treatment, not reasonable 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 simply decide to go elsewhere for Thanksgiving. (Presumably if the gun is a deal-breaker for a family dinner, the latter might be best for all?)

Lord knows we’ve had enough of smashmouth politics in the past year to last us a while. Trying to be a little forgiving and understanding of our family over Thanksgiving for the benefit of all sides might be a good thing. After all, we are the ones who are winning, n’est-ce pas?

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  1. Is brother in law required to be armed off-duty by his employer?

    If so, there’s not much room for negotiation.
    You either let him in or you don’t.

    • Bingo. It is no different that those fast food spots that ask officers to disarm before they may be seated/served. The officer has no say in the policy. He will be forced to leave. In this particular case, there is no way that there is any acceptable middle ground–we are talking a phobia, after all, something not susceptible to rational discussion.

      • About fast food places banning armed police, every story on that I have heard of ended with the management either fired, made to apologize, retrained or some combination of all those.

        • As far as I’m concerned, the appropriate response of armed police officers should be to apologize profusely, and leave.

          Once back in his patrol car, notify dispatch the establishment no longer desires an armed police response if called. They can exercise their “conflict resolution” skills instead.

          Hell, the municipality can even issue the place a refund based on the percentage of their taxes that cover the police expenses…

        • I’ve worked at Best Buy for many years and it was story policy (I don’t know if it was company policy) to give police the same discount employees received. I also worked at Burger King where it was policy to not charge the police for their meals. Once again, I don’t know if this is company policy especially since most chain fast food are franchises. Also, I worked almost exclusively during the night shift when only the drive through was open, and I never remember any officer abusing the generosity of the restaurant.

        • Rereading my post, I want to make clear that I no longer work at either Best Buy nor Burger King, and haven’t worked there for about twenty years.

        • It’s a smart policy for stores to offer discounts to police in uniform. This is especially true of places open 24 hours. When you’re looking to rob a place, would you choose the one with the heavy police presence or the other place where cops aren’t welcome and the employees aren’t likely to be armed?

        • “It’s a smart policy for stores to offer discounts to police in uniform.”

          I agree, but it is becoming less commonplace around here, some folks made a stink about it, comparing it to bribery and preferential treatment in response times. And some departments responded by making it policy to not accept freebies at all…

      • An awesome reason to NOT spend time with an, obviously, moron sister in law is a win. Take it and don’t look back. PERHAPS invite her to Christmas at your gun filled home. Gift her a couple Magpul magazines (my standard wedding gift).

    • The answer seems pretty simple to me: tell you’re relatives you ain’t commin’. Although, if you really wanted to get pissy about it, you would have a counter Thanksgiving dinner and invite all of your relatives except for the antsy anti-gun sister and hubby.

  2. Is TheFirearmBlog(dot)com also down for anyone else? I keep getting firefox’s “security threat” warnings. Warning is present on all browsers, on different devices, and across the U.S (I checked with a friend living a few states over that has a different ISP). Is this potential phishing? Please let me know if anyone else is having the same issues.


      • I’m concerned that the site may be compromised and some hacker maybe stealing personal info from those who chose to ignore the warning.

        I wonder if thefirearmblog’s web admin has noticed and if they will rectify the issue. Their facebook pages doesn’t mention anything as you yet.

    • It’s a glitch. The certificate is from Let’s Encrypt Authority X3, which is a legit intermediate certificate from a Linux Foundation keyring. It’s only valid for several motor enthusiast forums, however, including the “subaruxvforum” which appears first in the list, but more relevantly “thetruthaboutcars-(dot-com).” That’s probably where the mixup happened. Either someone used a truncated alias for one site (e.g. thetruthabout) and it got assigned the wrong cert or it’s plain ol human error.

      Either way feel free to refrain from commenting (though the worst a hacker could do is hijack your diquss account) or following links until they fix it. But it’s probably nothing and if you do neither of those things and use a secure browser (e.g. not Internet Explorer or Edge or whatever Microsoft is calling that trash fire these days) you’ll be just fine.

  3. Let’s see I’m bringing 2 .243 rifles and a shotgun, along with my blind, buckets, and seat cushions.

    Deer Season in PA starts SATURDAY this year!!! WOO HOO!!!! Gonna set up early tomorrow morning.

    The shot gun is so my 13 yr old shoots it. I bought it big, 12 ga so he’ll grow into it.

        • I second this. In my town, there’s only a small handful of places I truely cannot take my firearm. They all have metal detectors. Most signage doesn’t hold much weight around here, and I usually carry a small concealable firearm. I rarely get made, even by gun people. (Side note: yes people notice someone open carries a service duty sidearm, or covers it with just a t-shirt, but we don’t freak out about it.)

      • I prefer to not go out much. That thing called civilization is a colossal dumpster fire and now that they can’t use low level offenders to pick up trash, all the filth from the soon to be new (D) voters just keeps piling up on the roads.

        Hoodlums, gang bangers, thugs, populate town, half the population looks like some kind of land whale or junkie, the other half looks diseased or hunched over, incapable of standing up straight.

        Yeah, I’ll stay under my rock, try to not lift it up too often.

      • Your ‘no gun’ policy is cute and all, but if you don’t have a mechanism in place to catch me going in, you’re not catching anyone else, either. Try harder next time.

  4. Only question- If it’s a gun I haven’t seen before are you bringing extra ammunition for me to try it with? Just in case it is in a caliber I don’t have.

  5. I have a rule. I never answer the question “Are you carrying?” Whether I am or not. If they do not know that I am they aren’t triggered. He could be carrying concealed in her house and she’d never know. Why create drama when it can be avoided?

  6. Her sister needs to explain to her husband that her sister is an insufferable hoplophobic twit and ask him to please carry concealed as to avoid any unnecessary apoplexy at the dinner table.

  7. Advice for the complainant: Reach down deep in your pants and find a pair of balls. Proverbial balls if you’re female (or get some surgery, it’s 2019 so we’re all accepting of that kind of thing now ROFL).

    Advice for the brother-in-law: Your in-law is an insufferable jackass and likely will give you crap regardless of what you do. Even if you disarm and prove that you did you’ll still very likely get an earful of nonsense on this topic (and probably other topics as well) because people like this just can’t help themselves. Avoid Thanksgiving at this location.

  8. Ask them if all the knives, dangerous cleaning chemicals, clubs ,bats, and sharp sticks are also secured in a safe because unless they are, in packing heat.

      • “what kind of bottle”

        Beaujolais Nouveau is the perfect accompaniment to turkey (I brine a fresh bird in a special mix of herbs, spices and flowers — yes, flowers — for 24 hours before roasting), classic giblet gravy, cornbread sage stuffing, mashed sweet potatoes, my own freshly-baked pumpkin pie and baked apples.

        In lieu of wine, I also accept ammunition.

        • “Beaujolais Nouveau is the perfect accompaniment to turkey …”

          Whether or not you are a ‘turkey’ is irrelevant, your biting wit in TTAG proves you are actually a ‘ham’… 😉

  9. Sounds like the Cop has no respect for other people. Most do not that’s nothing new.

    When we visited our Uncle he was a rabid anti-gunner but because it was his house we respected his rights in that house. The opposite occurred when he came to visit us. He knew I carried a gun but respected my right in my own home and he did come. I would say if your so paranoid you would avoid going to your own family because of something like this then you need to see a psychiatrist. Of course there are exceptions to the rule. If we had known a criminal had just escaped from jail then no we would not have gone to my Uncles house that particular holiday but not all holidays.

    Its ok to be safe and want to carry but many people are so paranoid it ruins their lives. Some people I know are so paranoid they will no longer go to a football game, Disney World or any place that prohibits carry and uses metal detectors to enforce this. If anything with patrolling police at events and metal detectors I feel very safe and do go to crowd events. Yes I know some paranoid fruit cake guy will start screaming about the Los Vegas massacre but no one is 100 per cent safe and if I had been there at Los Vegas my pistol would have been little better than throwing stones at a guy that was 400 yards away with a high power rifle going full auto on everyone. The band was armed too and only could run like hell. Life is always somewhat of a chance so do you lock yourself up in your room 24 hours around the clock or refuse to drive a car, only if you need mental help. But it is of little use to argue with a paranoid he lives in his own self made hell and prison.

    • This comment makes me wonder if metal detectors were in place at the Vegas concert incident. Not that a ccw piece would have helped much in that situation.

      Personally, I’ve found the parking lots around areas where large portions of the population are forcibly disarmed (stadiums, etc.) to be some of the most dangerous areas of my town.

      • Funny. I rarely reply to a comment without reading the first one in it’s entirety. Looks like I should have this time. So Vegas did have metal detectors I assume?

        The Vegas shooter went out of his way to hit as many political hot topics as he could. I’m not surprised if he also targeted a gun free zone.

  10. The cop should tell his sister-in-law, “I became a cop to protect innocent people from those who threaten their lives and property. Anything I would do with a gun I would also try to do without one except that, with a gun, I’m more likely to succeed.” That might mollify her. Or, more likely, it will scare her to the point of disinviting him, gun or no gun.

    It shouldn’t have gone this far. When the sister-in-law first raised the issue, the cop’s wife (her sister) should have told her that objecting to his gun is disrespectful to him and his job.

    • It’s as if she doesn’t see any value in having an armed police officer in the home by default.

      I gots tell ya, this would make me feel safe. Especially if it were an in-law I liked and could actually talk to. The fact that this is even a question speaks volumes about her respect for law enforcement.

  11. I’ve never had this issue. Been a few years since we had Thanksgiving at a relative(my brother). He’s cool. He sold me a gun and bought one from me. My other brother is an extreme leftard but haven’t seen him in years. If it ever comes up that’s what deep concealment is for! Going to Old Country Buffet tomorrow😄

  12. “What To Do If A Guest Wants to Bring a Gun to Thanksgiving Dinner”

    I carry everywhere I go, and where permitted by law, are there going to be metal detectors at the door, or is there a questionnaire that will be administered, If not, then how are you going to know I’m carrying, and IF you know that I carry, and you’re not “comfortable” with it, then WHY would you invite me to begin with…???

    Of all the things to be concerned about, an invited guest carrying falls to the bottom of any “list” that there might be…

  13. There’s been a whole barrage of shitty thinkpieces this week about how to wage political warfare on your wrongthinking, conservative, gun-owning family over Thanksgiving. If you’re spoiling for a fight over Thanksgiving dinner, please do the rest of us a favor and stay home alone with your cats while the rest of us have a good time.

        • “Before that, I trained dogs.”

          Since you’re divorced, I take it the training didn’t go as well as you hoped?

          (I’ll get my coat, happy Bird Ralph, to you and the furry friends you have at home…)

  14. If the BIL is any kind of trained officer, the probability that he will be disarmed by the child is minimal. So as long as he doesn’t plunk it down on the table next to the cranberry sauce I don’t see the problem.

    • Agreed.

      Everybody knows the pistol goes to the right of the salad fork, not next to the cranberry sauce. That would be rude.

    • “A gracious host would have complimentary ammo out on the coffee table.”

      In a cut crystal candy dish, or a silver bowl with matching cover?

  15. There’s always more to these stories.

    Is the gun thing an excuse for other tensions in the family?

    Is the brother-in-law an asshole that starts arguments and ruins dinner?

    Is the brother-in-law a heavy drinker who always gets polluted, a loud and a sloppy drunk?

    Is there long standing dislike or a grudge between the brother-in-law and any other family member?

    These are some of the questions the NYT writer should be asking.

    If it really is Hoplophobia, either talk it thru or don’t go.

    • There is usually more to this kind of questions. They are usually made up by the “journalist” to give them something to bloviate about.

      Notice that there is no mention of any problem with the BIL and his behavior. It’s just the evil piece of plastic and metal that stands in the way of this family’s harmony.
      I call another BS piece of anti gun propaganda.

  16. I follow a don’t ask\don’t tell policy when it comes to carrying guns. I assume that many of the people I’m with are armed. The exception is when some of us are going to a bar and we will sometimes discuss who is going to be the designated driver\shooter.

    If someone goes through the effort to interrogate me or family as to my carrying habits because they’re that nuts, I’d prefer find other plans.

  17. Philip galanes who writes the advise column has been “traumatized” ever since his father committed suicidal with a firearm. Not surprised he would slant an anti gun position into his column.

  18. When weak people who crave power seek to remove real power because theirs isn’t tangible.
    This is why it triggers an emotional response because they realize their power is only an illusion.
    They are attacking 2A rights in all of non Free America, Gun Trainers and Militias in Virginia and attempting to control radios with the recently enforced ban, claiming a ban on body armor in many places if not nationwide so that they can remove the tools, training and thoughts of freedom so that they can increase the illusion of control.
    This “dinner” wish of hers is just on a smaller scale.

  19. Meh. I carry everywhere I go, but I have plenty of friends who are uncomfortable with a gun in the house. When I’m visiting them, I leave it locked in the glove box.

    Their house, their rules. Respect their wishes or don’t go.

  20. I am thinking risk of over-eating, over-drinking, exposure to poorly prepared food and excess traveling far exceed the risk from carrying in a safe manner. I also think you either accept a person as they are and be a proper host or eat alone like a prick.

  21. I think there should be reciprocation. As a theoretical example, if your invited guest is an off duty cop and he insists on bringing his gun over despite your objections then he should extend the courtesy and overlook all of your unregistered “assault weapons”, “high cap magazines”, armor piercing rounds, SBRs, etc. on display. If he objects to that friendly quid pro quo, is he truly your friend then? Happy Thanksgiving to all!

  22. Leave it to the NYT create this bullshit drama. No one wrote in seeking such advice they just made it up. FAKE NEWS.

  23. I have a SIL that, about half the times she comes to my house, particularly when my nephews are in tow, asks if my guns are put away. I usually roll my eyes and say something like, “No they’re strewn all over the house and when you aren’t looking I’m going to tell your children that its time for the mix-n-match ammo and handgun hunt – see if you can find a combination that will go bang.” Then I roll my eyes and remind her that in all the years we’ve know each other I’ve never let anyone get shot in my house.

  24. The sister who doesn’t want her Off-Duty (Police Officer) Brother-in-law to carry his gun while visiting her house needs to ask herself the following question: If there were an incident at her house which required the services of Law Enforcement (Uniformed Police Officers), would she allow them in her house? Also, more then likely her Brother-in-law would be carrying concealed and she could not tell if he had has gun (unless she has the nerve to ask). Her sister should be proud of her husband who is putting his life on the line for people like her sister.

  25. Life is too short to share company with isolated idiots who’ve not been outside of their little happy life-bubble to see how horrible, dark and evil the world can be. The idea of having a gun in their home smacks them in the face with the uncomfortable reality that their perceived safety is naught but an illusion that could evaporate at any given moment.

    Ignorance and complacency are bliss, apparently. They just don’t want to disrupt their happy naivete, especially not on Thanksgiving!

  26. I think before we talk about guns, we need to talk about a few more dangerous things before we can come to your house for dinner…

    Do you have a pool, and if so is there a secure gate around it?
    Have all your buckets been secured and all water removed from them?
    Is your poisonous cleaning materials secured in locked cabinets?
    What about your weed killer, ant poison, rat poison?
    Are your power tools accessible to any children or are they secured?
    Now one last thing, about your dog…..

  27. Jim-Bob’s gun will always be on his body, he will have positive control over it at all times. If there is concern from mom, she should probably regard the true unattended risks in her household… the knives. Knives kill more people in America than rifles of any kind, and the child likely has clear and easy access to them.

    If somebody wanted to carry a gun in my home, I would be pleased to allow them to do so, as long as they exhibit superb marksmanship should a viable threat to the lives of those present arise.

  28. How about get over your hoplophobia you pajama boy milksop soy boy. Grow a pair and STFU would be a good start. Police officer should host his own thanksgiving and invite everyone but the soy boy hoplophobe. Problem solved.


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