Dear Abby: The letter you printed from “Gun-Shy in South Carolina” (March 5), about the antics of her gun-toting, alcoholic father-in-law, caught my attention. I’m a former mental health clinician and program inspector. I discussed that letter with a friend who is a psychiatrist.
“Grandpa” has probably already violated a municipal ordinance regarding discharging a firearm in corporate limits. I agree with you that he has endangered his grandchildren. My friend advised that, according to the local interpretation of mental health statutes, Grandpa might be eligible for involuntary commitment and evaluation in a psychiatric facility. He could be disarmed by the police, if necessary.
“Gun-Shy” should heed her motherly instincts, stay home and refuse to visit Grandpa until he enters treatment. Otherwise there’s a high probability that she will mourn the loss of one or more dead children.
Grandpa seems to think that booze and guns make him brave. A brave person is a military medic, a member of the U.S. Coast Guard and the thousands of first responders who demonstrate their bravery by saving human lives, not threatening them. In fact, many Medal of Honor recipients earn the award not by the number of enemies killed, but lives saved.
Responsible Gun Owner in Pennsylvania
I agree. Some readers felt I should have been tougher in my response, and that Gun-Shy and her children should not visit Grandpa at all. Failure to act on her fears is called child endangerment and could result in the children being taken away. Readers let me have it with both barrels: