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Moms With Guns

Posted: 10/14/08 11:36 AM ET

Sarah Palin may be the most famous hockey mom with a gun, but the debate about mothers who pack lunches, diapers, kids and heat was hot well before Palin became a household name.

Back in June, the website BabyCenter -- usually devoted to the gentler arts of motherhood -- posed this question: Do you think every mother should own a gun?

"I carry a Keltec 380 (small pistol) on my hip everyday," responded a mother of two toddlers. "I feel comfortable knowing that I will be able to defend my kids and I if we are in a life-threatening situation."

Another mother -- eight months pregnant and with a young child -- declared that "our gun is the only way I could defend myself and my children should someone intend to do us harm."
And there was this disclosure from a police officer mom: "I keep a loaded 9mm in my Coach diaper bag."

Suddenly, it seemed, mothers with guns were everywhere -- including movie star moms. Mother of six Angelina Jolie was quoted in British newspapers as saying she keeps a gun at home for security, and that "if anybody comes into my home and tries to hurt my kids, I've no problem shooting them."

The point-blank debate about point-blank defense continued on the ResponsibilityProject.com. "The mother who keeps her gun in her diaper bag should be locked up," one reader insisted. "That's just plain irresponsible. A holster keeps your firearm at the ready, but more or less secure."

But a holster -- when worn by a mother with a loaded gun -- also makes the national news, as happened last month in Lebanon, Pennsylvania when soccer mom Meleanie Hain showed up at her 5-year-old daughter's game with her loaded Glock pistol strapped to her hip. Parents upset at the site of the gun complained to the soccer coach, who asked Ms. Hain to move to the other side of the field, away from the 4 and 5-year-olds.

The day after the incident, the director of the soccer program -- a former judge -- notified Ms. Hain that she would be banned from attending her daughter's soccer games if she continued to do so with a loaded gun. "A responsible adult would realize that such behavior has no place at a soccer game," the director wrote.

A few days later, the sheriff revoked Ms. Hain's concealed weapons permit, based on a law that denies permits to any "individual whose character and reputation is such that the individual would be likely to act in a dangerous manner to public safety."

Moms with Glocks might not rock in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, but they do protest. "I'm just a soccer mom who has always openly carried [a gun], and I've never had a problem before," said Ms. Hain. "I don't understand why this is happening to me."

Ms. Hain hired a lawyer, who pointed out that it's perfectly legal to openly carry a firearm everywhere in Pennsylvania except for Philadelphia, and that the sheriff is "basically punishing her for doing something she is permitted by law to do." Ironically, the revocation of Ms. Hain's permit to conceal now forces her to wear her gun -- which she carries for "personal safety"-- out in the open.

"Meleanie Hain is welcome to attend any of my kids' sports or social functions while openly carrying her weapon," wrote one supporter in a letter to the newspaper editor, stating that if a "maniac" attacked, "legally armed citizens are the next line of defense." But another letter writer took offense, stating "Hain says she carries her gun because her husband is a probation officer...My husband works with meat all day; should he carry a meat cleaver?"

The entire episode prompted the local newspaper to quip, "What's the difference between a pit bull and a soccer mom? In the case of Meleanie Hain, it's a loaded sidearm."

As the debate about mothers with guns continues, one woman who took part in the discussion on the ResponsibilityProject.com zeroed in with a query of her own: "Would this question even be asked if it were a father and not a mother carrying the firearm?"