Working for an Armed Family: Would You Do It?

Photo by __ via Flickr Creative Commons.
Photo by __ via Flickr Creative Commons.

by sheri lopez

Here’s a questions for you. Would you or would you not work for a family if they had guns in their home?

It’s a valid question.

I sometimes wonder if other nannies even think to ask their employer about guns being present in the home. I honestly can say that when I began my career as a nanny 31 years ago, the thought of asking about guns in the home never crossed my mind. I was more interested in the day-to-day information regarding the children’s care.

However, that all changed one day when I came across a handgun sitting on the top of a dresser in the parent’s bedroom. It was in plain sight to me, so I am certain it was visible to the children and anyone else that may have been walking by the window and could look in. Well, let me tell you, that shook me and made me re-evaluate the questions I ask potential employers.

If you think about it, asking if there are guns in the home should be as common as asking about allergies, medical conditions, or their fire evacuation plan. It is all about safety and being educated about the environment you work in.

Time and time again, there are unfortunate stories in the news of children and even adults accidentally getting injured or killed in an accident related to a loaded gun. Guns are dangerous weapons and should never be where children can get to them. This alone is a good reason why we should know if there are guns present where we work.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll taken in April 2013 stated that by a wide 51 to 29 percent margin, more people say a gun in the house makes it safer rather than more dangerous and according to a CNN report in August of 2012, at that time there were over 310 million registered firearms in American homes.

With this in mind, there is a good chance that you as a nanny will work in a home where there is at least one gun present. Think about it, you could be working in one of those homes right now and not even know it.

Nannies Need to Know

A nanny has a right to know if there are guns in the home she works in. Based on that knowledge, a nanny has the right to decide if he or she wants to work in that home.

So what questions should nannies ask their employer about guns in the home? Keep the following list in mind the next time you’re interviewing, or ask these questions of your current employer.

  • Are there guns in the home?
  • Are the guns securely stored and locked away?
  • Are the guns unloaded?
  • Are the firearms and ammunition stored separately?
  • Where are the guns and ammunition stored?
  • Do the children know there are guns in the home?
  • Have the children ever expressed interest in the guns?

The bottom line is this: when at work, you are charged with protecting the children, so you need to know the answers to these questions.

Real Nannies Weigh In

What do nannies say about working in a home where guns are present? I posed this question to some nannies and here are some of the responses I received. Carolyn Martin of Arizona states that she would consider working for a family with guns in the home “as long as the firearms were stored properly, meaning in a combination-locked safe with the ammo stored in a different spot.” She is comfortable with firearms because she is a responsible gun owner and has spent her entire life around them. However, Linda Morgan of Utah says she would never. “I hate guns and don’t want them in my presence!” In high school, Morgan had an afterschool job at an ice cream parlor and one night before the store closed, she and a coworker were robbed at gunpoint. She said that the incident scared her so much that she vowed she would never have guns in her presence if she had any say about it.

Julie Henderson of Hawaii shares her thoughts by saying, “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” Henderson feels that a gun is just an object that is harmless when unloaded. It is the person in possession of the gun who is control of the damage it can cause. Kathy Lawrence of Texas says, “as long as I know they are properly locked and stored and the people with access are stable” then she wouldn’t mind working for a family that owned guns. She said that she has no reason to fear guns, but she does want to know that if they are in the home, they are locked away where the children can’t get to them and that the gun owner is a responsible person.

Where do you stand?

There are 310 million registered firearms in America. That’s a lot of guns. You need all the pieces of the puzzle to make an educated decision about your work environment, so be sure to ask if there are guns in the home before you say yes to the job.