SALT LAKE CITY — As the gun debate rages across the country, it also simmers inside the home. A lot of families remain divided over packing heat in the house. Finding common ground can take years.
"It was probably not too long after we started dating, a little while into us dating, that I realized that she was not a big fan of guns, she didn't really want guns," said Bountiful resident Todd Elkins of his wife, Emily. "I think as we got married it was more of an absolute ‘I don't want guns in the home.'"
For Elkins, it was an adjustment. He'd grown up around guns. Ten years later, there is still no gun in his home and it's not for a lack of trying.
Recent thefts at his business and mass shootings in Connecticut and Colorado have only deepened his conviction to keep a gun at home for safety.
"If something were to happen, I wanted to feel like I could protect my family," Elkins said.
Emily Elkins, though, saw a different side of the coin. She's doubted she could access a gun in a safe fast enough to stop an armed home invader, and she's been concerned about having a gun around her children.
"It still is a worry for me to carry one in our home," she said, remaining non-committal about ever allowing her husband to buy a firearm and bring it home. "I'm on the record to say we'll discuss it further."
The Elkins aren't all that unusual.
Though a Gallup poll found last year that 43 percent of people reported having guns in their homes, another gun owner told KSL it took him eight years to convince his wife.
The topic even comes up in therapy sessions.
"It can come up and it does come up and it's a very emotional issue," said Kate Della-Piana, executive director at the Family Counseling Center in Murray.
Della-Piana said guns are seldom deal-breakers in relationships, but the matter is something that should come up earlier rather than later.
"Is it a matter of principle first - I mean, how important is it to you," Della-Piana suggested asking. "What can we agree on?"
It helps in finding a consensus, she said, to focus on broader issues like safety at home and what having guns around means for children.
"And if they can start there, often they can come up with a compromise that works for both of them," Della-Piana said.
Shooting instructors also frequently have to play counselor to those who want firearms at home.
Utah Shooting Sports Council chair Clark Aposhian said he advises spouses who want guns to always be on their "A" game with safety and promise to the doubting spouse to safely store guns.
He said it also helps to expose a doubting spouse to the guns themselves in a safe, friendly environment - perhaps even a training course.
That appears to be the plan of action for Elkins in convincing his wife to let him bring a gun home.
"I think first and foremost is I get as educated as I can, and along that way start educating her," he said.
Elkins believes he is as close as ever to winning his wife over to his side. Still, nothing is a guarantee.
"I don't know that I necessarily agree with having one in the home, but that's still for further discussion," Emily Elkins said.
***This is the first part of a three-part series on "Guns in the Home." Part Two focuses on ways to properly secure guns, if they are the security option of choice at home. That's Thursday on KSL NewsRadio, KSL 5 News and ksl.com.
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