Without a Gun, You’re Helpless

open carry

This unique kid’s book will be treasured for years to come and will be passed down to new family members.

Come join 13-year-old Brenna Strong along with her mom, Bea, and her dad, Richard, as they spend a typical Saturday running errands and having fun together. What’s not so typical is that Brenna’s parents lawfully open carry handguns for self-defense. The Strongs join a growing number of families that are standing up for their 2nd Amendment rights by open carrying and bringing gun ownership out of the closet and into the mainstream.

Or so the publisher asserts. By now everyone has seen the cover of this book: My Parents: An Open Carry Adventure. Issued by a small group of very conservative and very religious publishers who love guns, one should expect that the story is one of indoctrination and a totally one-sided argument. It is that and much more as Meghan Hamilton illustrates in her opinion piece posted in The Humanist.

A Message for Kids: Without a Gun, You’re Helpless

While the U.S. Constitution guarantees Americans the right to own guns [this is certainly open to interpretation], there are extremists who take that right too far. Take the parents who allowed their nine-year-old daughter to fire an Uzi at the Bullets and Burgers shooting range in Las Vegas, Nevada, earlier this week, and then saw her lose control of it and kill the instructor.

As a social issue, gun ownership has long been a fight, for the most part, between conservatives and liberals. The right to openly carry a firearm in public (commonly referred to as “open carry”) is an even more controversial topic, and the push to restrict gun laws has many divided. Who better to continue the fight of today into the world of tomorrow than children? This seems to be the thrust of a peculiar children’s book I recently came across titled My Parents Open Carry: An Open Carry Adventure.

As we see so commonly in religion, children are easily indoctrinated with ideas they cannot fully understand. Seems the same goes for support of open carry laws.

My Parents Open Carry, written by Brian Jeffs and Nathan Nephew and illustrated by Lorna Bergman, follows a girl named Brenna as she goes through the day with her parents who openly carry their guns. It’s worth noting that the book is published by a small company called White Feather Press, which appears to be a collective of authors who share conservative interpretations of the Bible and the U.S. Constitution.

tdtrI have more than a few problems with My Parents Open Carry. The book paints the family as a perfectly loving and caring one, and there seems to be no element of disagreement or defiance between thirteen-year-old Brenna and her parents. This shining, happy family sets out on their day, mom and dad with loaded handguns at their sides. Brenna explains that her father has always taught her that “there is evil in this world, and we want to protect you the best we can.” Her mother, clearly in agreement, chimes in, “We are responsible for our own safety, and as an adult, someday you will be responsible for your safety as well as your family.” The parents go on to explain that the police cannot be everywhere all of the time, implying that it is one’s duty to assume the responsibility of law enforcement rather than waiting for emergency personnel to respond—even if it means using a gun on another individual.

A neighbor even jumps in to congratulate Brenna’s parents on their open carrying, justifying the display by comparing it to the use of seat belts and fire extinguishers. Throughout the book the family encounters people who seem to lack knowledge about gun laws. Of course, once explained, they all agree with the parents’ actions. In the end, Brenna gets her first handgun with which she can carry out the wisdom her parents have imparted upon her.

I must admit I was somewhat confused as Brenna’s parents explained to a group of teenagers that guns don’t always have to be associated with crime yet throughout the entire book they justified openly carrying them with self-defense [I don’t see the problem: guns and criminals and thugs like Brenna’s parents].

By no means does the book explore the potentially negative ramifications of openly carrying a loaded weapon. In fact, the only thing this book seems to do is perpetuate the idea that constitutional rights are under attack and people need to fight back. There is no consideration that the Second Amendment was written with different intentions in a very different period of U.S. history. I doubt that the framers of the Constitution intended for citizens to bring loaded weapons to shopping malls, banks, and schools.

But should we be surprised? It’s clear the authors hold gun freedom very close to their hearts as founders of Michigan Open Carry, Inc. Unfortunately they have succeeded in creating propaganda geared toward children that feeds off kids’ fear. Take a look at this book if you have thirty minutes you don’t mind throwing away. It does give useful insight into the ways children are manipulated into agreeing with ideas that are above their level of understanding. For examples, one need look no further than the “CUSTOMERS WHO BOUGHT THIS BOOK ALSO BOUGHT” section of Open Carry’s Amazon page, which offers such gems as Raising Boys Feminists Will Hate and Help! Mom! There are Liberals under My Bed!

A children’s book should allow young minds to explore ideas rather than indoctrinating young readers, thereby stunting their ability to make their own choices and form their own opinions.

I might add that this book seems ready-made for a large group of the Home Schoolers in this country. But the publisher might have more to say:

I know this is a sad (and terrifying) commentary on the American Yahoo population but there is a bit of humor in it all: on the book’s website, the publisher proudly displays the fact that their book was seen on The Colbert Report and on Bill Maher’s Real Time; in fact they even use a quotation from Stephen Colbert in their list of advertising blurbs: “…what a beautiful bedtime story… .” Is it possible to be any less aware or any more stupid? True, the publishers may well be shrewd here and they know that their audience doesn’t have to know how to spell “irony” when they order all those multiple copies of the book and make the authors and publishers rich.

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