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Guns on TV: Missing The Mark


The Fox network’s “House M.D.” has never been very friendly towards guns. The last show of season 2 found House shot by a disgruntled former patient. In the ninth episode of season 5, someone demands medical treatment at the point of a gun. The just aired twelfth episode entitled “Painless” brings up guns again, though in a less dramatic and more subtle way with a character named Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) going through the adoption process. When the child welfare official comes to check on Cuddy’s suitability to care for the young child, the first question the official asks is, “Any guns in the house?” The only other question was whether she had any pets.

Obviously the academic research shows that having an accessible gun in the home saves lives, but I had a more basic question: I decided to check to see if a question about guns was likely to lead the questions on one’s fitness to serve as a foster parent or to adopt a child. American Adoptions is licensed by the state of New Jersey to provide home study services for people preparing for adoption. Their home study guide has a lot of questions on a person’s criminal record (arrests and convictions), whether they have ever been reported for child abuse/neglect (seems more important than gun ownership), and marital status and history – but no questions about gun ownership.

It is surely not impossible that such a question would be asked, but making it the first of only two questions seems extremely unlikely and misrepresents what the actual process would involve (even taking into account that forms had already been filled out by Cuddy).

I recently noted that the TV show Monk had a great episode where Monk was unable to use a gun defensively because it was locked in a gun safe, but the very next episode had Monk’s assistant Natalie accidentally shooting Monk in the leg (the odds of that happening are incredibly low). The segment wasn’t all bad since it also showed Natalie protecting herself from a criminal threatening to hit her with a rock.

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