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Today's column

Posted by Robin Abrahams  January 20, 2013 07:05 AM

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... is online here. This is the one about the gun-toting host at a family party:

At my sister-in-law's home on New Year's Eve, we were shocked to see her husband "John" carrying a loaded gun. My sister-in-law was unconcerned: "He always carries it," she said. They host all the holiday family gatherings, but I don't want to attend when John is carrying a gun. My husband agrees, but no one else seems to think it's a problem--including the parents of the 3-year-old John spent most of the night playing with. How do we handle this without alienating ourselves from the family? We cannot have everyone to our house.

... and here was my bottom line:

When you are under another person's roof, you cannot ask that he adhere to your morality -- only honor your quirks.

In other words, she can ask to have her dislike of guns accommodated, but she shouldn't ask to have it validated. If Milo were a pit bull, I would willingly crate him when people visited who were nervous around dogs, or pit bulls in particular. They are my guests, I want them to be comfortable, it doesn't have to be the same thing that makes me comfortable. What I wouldn't like would be to have to listen to a lecture on the number of people killed by pit bulls, or how much you're in favor of legislation to make it more difficult to own one, or rudely editorializing questions on what kind of person would want to have such a dangerous dog, anyway.

Making a reasonable, polite request of your hosts so that your stay in their home is more comfortable is a fine and appropriate thing to do. Walking into someone's house and insulting them and their way of life is not.

Miss Conduct's Advice for Gun Debates

Pro-Gun People: If you are arguing for unfettered access to firearms, try to act as though you are sane enough to be trusted with paper clips.

Anti-Gun People: Guns don't have cooties. Ignorance of firearms doesn't make you a better person, it just makes you ignorant.

Finally, I'd like to welcome any new readers who have come from Already Pretty. I hope you'll stick around--and join me on Facebook, too!!

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About Miss Conduct
Welcome to Miss Conduct’s blog, a place where the popular Boston Globe Magazine columnist Robin Abrahams and her readers share etiquette tips, unravel social conundrums, and gossip about social behavior in pop culture and the news. Have a question of your own? Ask Robin using this form or by emailing her at

Who is Miss Conduct?

Robin Abrahamswrites the weekly "Miss Conduct" column for The Boston Globe Magazine and is the author of Miss Conduct's Mind over Manners. Robin has a PhD in psychology from Boston University and also works as a research associate at Harvard Business School. Her column is informed by her experience as a theater publicist, organizational-change communications manager, editor, stand-up comedian, and professor of psychology and English. She lives in Cambridge with her husband Marc Abrahams, the founder of the Ig Nobel Prizes, and their socially challenged but charismatic dog, Milo.

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