Dear Mensch: My 16-year-old son recently stayed for a week at the country home of a friend (also 16) in a rural location where they used guns to shoot at cans in an open field, unsupervised by an adult. I am horrified by this lack of oversight by the friend’s parents and would like to confront them. I am also tempted to call the police in their town to let them know of this unsupervised gunplay. Am I overreacting? — Jen
Dear Jen: You are not overreacting. When it comes to guns and kids, you can never be too careful. However, there some variables to consider.
First, were they shooting handguns or rifles? Laws governing the use of rifles by minors, with and without supervision, vary by city and county.
You are perfectly within your right to express your concern to the parents and demand that any shooting engaged in by your son be conducted in an authorized area with adult supervision, ideally at a professionally staffed range.
You can also insist your son not use guns at all when in their care. However, California law prohibits the possession of a handgun by a minor — period. If they were using pistols, call the police.
Dear Readers: On Sept. 13, a week before Rosh Hashanah, more than 70,000 groups (such as classrooms, workplaces and Kevah groups) will be participating in the fourth annual Character Day. In a shared experience, participants will explore, through short films and exercises, the development of character and its higher attributes such as empathy, humility and bravery.
In other words, menschhood!
Character Day is the creation of Bay Area Emmy-nominated filmmaker and lecturer (and all-around mensch) Tiffany Shlain. To learn more about Character Day, or to sign up, visit letitripple.org/character-day.
Additionally, Mensch highly recommends his readers take 10 minutes to view Tiffany’s online film “The Making of a Mensch,” a charming, entertaining and thought-provoking look at Mussar, a Jewish but not exclusively religious movement focused on ethics and morality. And its usefulness in the pursuit of being a mensch.