12/21/2012 11:21 pm ET Updated Feb 21, 2013

Parents, Guns and Awareness

It's easy to feel helpless against assault weapons with hundreds of rounds of bullets packed into their clips and ready to go.

It's easy to feel as if one voice -- your voice, my voice -- could never be heard above the shrill national discourse on the subject of gun control.

But one voice, especially a parent's voice, can make a difference if he or she is willing to ask other parents a few basic questions about guns in their homes.

Thirty percent is a conservative estimate of how many American households own guns.

In some states the number of homes that have guns exceed thirty percent and, if you live in one of those states, it's likely that you've dropped your children off to play at a house where there are guns. There's no easy answer to whether it's right or wrong to do so, nor is that the point of this post. This exploration is around whether parents are aware of what they are doing when they're doing it.

A fact-of-life in America today is that people keep guns in their homes. Maybe you don't have guns in your house, but other parents do. So, it makes sense for parents to ask about guns every time they drop their children off for a playdate, or sleepover, or birthday party. And, if the answer is "Yes, I do have guns in my home," a number of follow-up questions emerge immediately:

• How many guns do you own?
• What kind of guns are they?
• Are your guns loaded?
• Where do you keep them?
• Are your guns kept in a locked cabinet?
• Do your children know where your guns are?
• Do your children know where to find the keys to the cabinet?
• From these questions other questions will naturally emerge, I promise.

I'm not an expert on guns (although as a child I got pretty good at knocking soda cans off of a block during target practice) but I do know something about awareness. And, one of the most powerful by-products of awareness is that once you're aware of something your relationship to it will change. Thoughtful, steady, and open-minded conversation around people's motivations for owning guns, and their care in keeping them away from children and those who may not have a good-hearted motivation, is how those in favor of gun control and those against it can find common ground.