My Husband Wants a Gun Even Though Our Son Is on Psychiatric Meds
By Christina Vercelletto for Parenting.com
Three weeks ago, I was printing out an Amazon receipt for a tennis racket. When I grabbed it from my home printer, there was another sheet underneath: A New York State gun license application. Signed by my husband.
My head was spinning, because although I was reading the words, it just didn't make sense.
The application asked whether he'd ever been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder. It didn't ask whether anyone else in his household had.
I texted him: "WTF gun license??? Have u lost ur friggin mind!??"
It took him a few minutes to reply, during which I stared at the phone, waiting to read something that explained the incomprehensible.
"Calm down are u going to let me talk??"
My hands were shaking. What was happening? John is the most un-macho man you can imagine. He doesn't follow a single professional sport, preferring instead "Restaurant Impossible" or "The Voice." At parties, he finds more to talk about with the women than the men. He trolls recipe websites, trying to improve his formula for vegetable soup or baked clams. He goes to Bible study every Thursday. He has never once in the 20 years I've known him mentioned a gun. The visual of him packing heat is absurd.
I finally typed: "hope u r prepared to shoot me, only way u r bringing into house"
Plus: Why Asperger's Didn't Cause the Sandy Hook School Shooting
Our 13-year-old son, Aden, takes two psychiatric meds for depression and anxiety. He has ADHD and Tourette's syndrome. Asperger's was suspected, then rejected. Nobody seems to be able to give us an exact diagnosis, but he has virtually no friends his age. On his recent birthday, he received four Facebook greetings, which in the world of FB may as well be a negative number. He hates school because he is picked on. He spends a lot of time in his room.
He is also fiercely focused and stunningly competent in visual-spatial relationship-based tasks, like building things. He can make something functional out of scraps around the house in 20 minutes -- like the alarm he made for his bedroom door -- and does so regularly. When he sets his mind to it, he can figure out how anything works. He's a whiz on the computer.
And like most boys his age, he plays shoot-and-kill video games.
After the tragedy at Newtown, my brain rested on the overt similarities between Aden and the shooter, but I pushed those thoughts down fast. Aden gets teary when those ASPCA commercials with abused animals come on. When he plays basketball, he always runs over to help up a fallen player (even an opponent). He was just named student of the month by his art teacher for his creativity with tempera paints. The prize was a pencil, which he showed off like it was made of platinum. He is my sweet Aden. Somehow, of course, that makes him different from Adam Lanza.
Finding that application sent me reeling. I decided to just pretend it never happened. Surely, my opinion on the issue was more than clear, and John wouldn't push it.
Plus: The Secret Adam Lanza And I Shared
A few days later, John and I were driving to a family party. Aden was in the backseat with his iPad. "Mom, I just shot and killed 9 guys!"
"REALLY? Faaabulous," I said, as sarcastically as I have ever said anything in my life.
I felt dizzy when John said, "I should take you to the shooting range and teach you how to properly shoot. You'd love it."
That night, we had it out. It was heated, and, thus, brief. This was the whole of it, more or less:
A gun in the house of a mentally-disturbed teenage boy?
He'll learn how to use it right.
How do we know what he's thinking? How can we REALLY ever know?
We'll keep it locked up, unloaded.
When he wants to figure something out, he does.
The world is changing. It's my right. You've heard about those home invasions.
If it's so damn secure, how will you get to it fast enough for a home invader?
We have to be smart these days, and prepared to defend ourselves.
Remember that day last year when were switching his meds, and he tried to jump out of the moving car?
Whether regular people have guns or not, the criminals will!
A criminal didn't kill those kids in Newtown. A criminal didn't do the shooting in Columbine. A criminal didn't go into the movie theatre in Colorado. These tragedies are being caused by mentally ill young males -- regular people until that fatal moment -- with access to guns!
In our house, there will be rules about gun safety, and the rules will be followed, and it will be fine.
When I told him he could get killed trying to jump out of the car, he said I DON'T CARE.
With that, I dissolved completely.
It hasn't been brought up since. Mostly because John has only been on and off speaking to me, hurt that I can't respect his opinions enough to calmly and fully discuss it. He also mentioned my lack of confidence in him as a caring, responsible dad.
I've been trying not to think about it, but (obviously) failing. Am I wrong to have shut my husband down? He usually makes good decisions. He's a smart guy, and I know he loves Aden as much as I do. I have a hard time believing he'd do anything he thought could hurt him.
Somebody please tell me what do. I'll be damned if I know.
This article made my jaw drop. A photo of their child accompanied it (i presume, though it could have been a stock photo, I don't know for sure). The authors name was there.
Texts between husband and wife. A beseeching plea to the public to settle a very private decision. What do you think?
Is nothing sacred? Is this child's "issues" spilled for Mom's "hits" on the internet? Is this marriage spilled all over the internet?
ETA: I realized my question was biased. Is this Mom highlighting important social issues and being "brave", or bringing a private or "real" face to the "who wants a gun" issue?
What do you think?
Last edited by Potter75; 01-18-2013 at 09:41 PM.
I do not believe in spelling out things like this on the web for all to see. It is disrespectful for the husband and the son. I have a 13 year old and she would DIE if she found out I was talking about anything even remotely having to do with her (she may even be offended that I said I have a 13 year old, who knows these days with her)
I also do not think people outside of my marriage would be able to solve an issue like this, especially if they are only hearing one side of the story
Molly, Morgan, Mia and Carson
I think this is a very common debate that is going on in many homes across America today. It is a huge heated debate. I will say that DH and I have had some really big arguments on this situation (On whether or not to buy a gun). That said, she should not have posted publicly about her son's mental health.
I do not agree with the manner she took. Airing your dirty laundry and throwing your son's mental illness out there without his consent bothers me.
However, I don't necessarily think his diagnoses mean anything about having a gun in the house (yes this is coming from anti-gun Jess lol). I have a family member with Tourette's and I would not worry about him owning a gun if he chose to.
I know there is probably more to it, at least I hope there is. Just that I don't particularly see the worry of having a gun in the house based on his particular issues. Unless she doesn't want a gun in the house at all which could be the reason but she shouldn't put that on her son.
well I will say it was enlightening in some ways for me as a reader. Made me realize that people in these situations often feel there is no harm in having guns easily accessible by the mentally ill. And when you love someone and can obviously see the positives about that individual, its hard to convince yourself they could ever be a danger to someone else. All good food for thought on why guns land in the hands of the mentally ill so often. Even if the boy in this story would never do anything, it doesn't mean someone else is having the same thought process and they're wrong.
So i appreciate thinking about it in that light.
Now that I've said all that, i'd never be caught dead sharing all of that with the entire internet.
She made her life fairly public, though I have seen lots worse. Maybe she wrote anonymously or under fictious names.
I think she should probably do more for her son. I am sure their lives are not easy. I just think she has gotten some bad opionions on her son's issues, but obviously she shared limited specific info.
I feel like she shared what may be going on in lots of households: battle to figure out what to do. I dont hold that against her. Often in magazines and sites, we do read personal stories written to share and sometimes looking for outside views. I cannot see why the shock exists. There is so much tmi out there that this does not begin to drop my jaw.
I think her sharing is beneficial and eye opening. However I do not ageee with all of either of their feelings on the matter or their other issues.
Last edited by myyams; 01-18-2013 at 11:13 PM.
I think that its awful. I don't think that it made me enlightened in any way, or brought any thoughtfulness to the conversation around either mental illness or gun control. All it really made me think is, that poor kid, and that poor marriage.
I truly don't understand how people justify selling out their family, either to reality TV or this new wave of mommy blogging or "dirty laundry here is what goes on in the privacy of my relationship/marriage/everythoughtthatenters my head journalism". I just don't get it. I can't imaging having to read about my childhood, my mothers eye rolls, my parents death threats, their secrecy, my (theoretical) mental illness etc as an adolescent or as an adult. Its horrifying to me.
While you didn't get anything out of it, can you see why others might have? I mean we easily say all the time how guns shouldn't be in the hands of the mentally ill and it seems so obvious that we have to do something about it. But when you don't have someone in your life that is mentally ill, i think this article shows how sometimes its not as obvious. I think people want to believe that their own loved one is different, or that you have the ability to prevent it instead of saying "its too dangerous, too much of a gamble"
especially because its true, not everyone who is mentally ill is going to turn into a mass murderer, most don't, so i would imagine some people cling to the idea that their own loved one is in that category.
I'm not using this to justify doing it. I just found it interesting how quickly you wrote it off as not enlightening.