That gun upstairs scares me

My Israeli-born husband and I live in the suburbs with our three children, ages 2 to 7. My problem is that my husband keeps a handgun in our bedroom for protection. Having served in the army, he is trained with firearms. He also believes he is being safe by keeping the gun hidden high up on top of a cabinet. I’ve asked him to keep it in a locked safe or cabinet, but he claims that defeats its purpose in an emergency. I appreciate that he wants to protect us but I am scared of this gun, especially with kids running around upstairs with friends or at home with a babysitter. Are we safer with the gun in the house, or without it? — Nervous in Novato

Dear Nervous: Thank your husband for wanting to protect you. Then tell him to put a trigger lock on his gun and put it in a safe. According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, a gun in the home is 22 times more likely to be used in a domestic homicide, suicide or accidental shooting than in self-defense. You’ve got healthy children and their friends running freely around the house.

Are those babysitters teenagers? You do not want teenagers and unlocked guns in your house. Indeed, you could be charged with a felony in California if your unlocked gun is obtained by a minor and used by accident or on purpose, but that’s the least of it should something go wrong.

As a veteran, your husband is probably a disciplined and tough guy. But Mensch knows how powerful a mom can be when it comes to her children. Take a firm stand here. The website of the California attorney general ( has a list of requirements and recommendations for safe and legal gun ownership. The most sensible step your husband can take to protect his family would be to keep his gun under lock and key.

I’m going to be a senior in high school. My dad is a medical researcher and my mom is a judge. They are highly educated and want me to follow in their footsteps. This summer, we are taking a tour of Ivy League colleges. I am a pretty good student but I doubt I’m Ivy League material. In fact, I’m not even sure I want to go to college. I have a cousin who traveled on her own for two years after high school, never went to college and is now managing a bike store in Colorado. My parents often hold her up as an example of what not to be, but she is the happiest person I know. I am dreading this trip with my parents and the application process ahead. I’m pretty certain I do not want for myself what they want. — Going Insane in S.F.

Dear Insane: Your parents sound like good, high-minded people and your cousin does as well. But it sure sounds like you’re under a lot of pressure. Mensch thinks you should stop dreading this college tour. When on the road together, people often perceive life and each other in more expansive ways. Take this time to engage your parents. At meals, in the car, on the plane. And ask them about their lives.

Remember, they want to do right by you and believe an Ivy League education is the ticket. But maybe as they learn more about you, they will start to think out of the box. And maybe you’ll learn that you are more Ivy League than you think. But if senior year arrives and you are still at odds, it might be best to enlist the aid of a professional college counselor or family therapist.

There are big decisions to be made and they ought to be made with as much information as possible, with proper weight given to your aspirations. And Mensch sees no reason why you couldn’t make the most of a college education and spend a summer or two working in your cousin’s bike store.

Jonathan Harris
Jonathan Harris

Jonathan Harris is a synagogue administrator and writer-editor living in San Francisco with his wife, three daughters and an ungrateful cat. He can be reached at [email protected].