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Annie: 12-year-old carrying gun sends warning signal

DEAR ANNIE: I read the letter from "Scared Aunt," whose 14-year-old nephew is allowed to drive. I have a similar issue.

I have a relative who owns a jewelry store and pawn shop in another state. They have been the victims of a few robberies, so now his 12-year-old son carries a pistol in the store. Under the laws of their state, the kid is allowed to carry it on the premises with the parents present, but not off the premises or in a vehicle. The father takes the kid to a firing range, and the kid has good aim.

Should I make a case to Child Protective Services about this? -- Brooklyn

DEAR BROOKLYN: We agree that if the child works in a store that is often robbed, the parents are endangering him. Having a gun will not prevent him from being shot by an intruder. Before cutting them off and reporting them to CPS, however, have you spoken to the parents to hear their side of the story? Have you expressed your concerns to them directly? You might be jumping to conclusions about the boy's hours at the store. And by refusing all future invitations, you are not only excluding yourself from family events, you also will no longer be able to keep an eye on the situation. Your disapproval is not likely to change the parents' attitude. But if, after listening to the parents, you still want to contact CPS, by all means, go ahead.

DEAR ANNIE: I was so moved by the letter from "Smarter Now," and your response that the car shouldn't move until everyone is buckled up.

On July 26, my 18-year-old son was involved in a fatal car accident that took the life of the young offender who crossed over double yellow lines and hit my son's car head-on, injuring his passenger and severely debilitating my son.

My son was one of those new drivers who would not insert his key into the ignition until passengers had their seatbelts buckled. Everyone made fun of him for it, but they eventually buckled up if they wanted to reach their destination. I am sending you a photo of the wrecked car so you can see that seatbelts save lives.

Once my son is healed and able to walk again, he and his passenger will do PSAs to inspire young drivers to use seat belts and drive responsibly. -- Pennsylvania

DEAR PENNSYLVANIA: Your son's car was so severely mangled that it's hard to imagine anyone walking away from it. We are glad he will recover and we appreciate the strong warning to buckle up.

To write to Annie's Mailbox, send to c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.

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