How can anyone be against toy guns yet believe owning a real gun is fine with proper training? I will sum it up for you real quickly. I believe people have the absolute right to own a gun to protect themselves if they choose, but should use discretion when purchasing a toy replica because I feel like it sends the wrong message. Sound backwards to you? Read on.
“Excuse me, I am not comfortable with your child pointing a gun at my daughter.” I said to a stranger at the park. Her child was running around with a brightly painted toy gun telling all the kids he was going to “shoot them dead.” I could see that it was making some of the other parents uncomfortable so I decided to mention it. In fact it made me a little uncomfortable as well as the little boy’s gun sights were set on my own child as she ran for cover.
I could tell that the young boys parent wanted to dismiss me as some uptight anti-gun advocate and tell me where I could stick my agenda. I could almost read her mind as she was rolling her eyes in her head wishing she could tell me to lighten up and that it was just a toy. Fortunately she did take the toy from her child and he continued playing, though this time using his fingers as the gun. There wasn’t much I could do about that, but I had to wonder if I was overreacting and judging simple and normal play, or just being aware of the possible harmful effects of a child pretending to play with a potentially deadly weapon.
The thing that makes me uncomfortable about toy guns is my absolute respect for real ones. No matter what side of the fence you are about guns, I am sure we can all agree that a real gun is not a toy for a child to play with. Personally I think that if you are a gun owner, you are giving your child the wrong message by allowing them to recklessly point and imitate a gun’s use to their friends. It shows a lack of respect for real guns, and a lack of training on your part. Even toy guns should be an opportunity to drill gun safety. If you are not a gun owner, I find it to be rather hypocritical for you to judge a real gun based on its serious potential consequences, yet allow an absolute disregard for the mental consequences of that type of play.
Just like I wouldn’t let my child ride a power wheels into the street and do donuts in traffic, I feel like it’s important for me as a parent to impart wisdom and restraint around these serious tools. As soon as my daughter could understand, I always explained to her that guns were simply not a toy. This is important information for if you have guns in your own house, or if your child is going to play at a home that may contain a gun whether you know it or not. Even if you have a gun and it is secured in your own home, that does not guarantee it is secured in another. No amount of sheltering your child can make up for a few moments to explain to your children the seriousness of respecting firearms.
I have always maintained that guns are never a toy no matter what the type. I have told my child to always assume that every gun is loaded, never to touch it without permission, and that no one should ever point a gun at something they don’t intend to shoot. A child, unless under the instruction of a qualified adult should never even touch a gun at all. If my daughter sees a gun she has been instructed to get an adult and never to touch it herself. If one of her playmates wants to play with a gun she also is instructed to get an adult. If she sees a gun, or hears about a gun with her friends, or in school, she knows that it is nothing to joke about or play with and to alert the proper authorities. In our home there is no such thing as a “toy gun.” We don’t aim replicas at people, we keep our finger off the trigger, and we always act as if it is a real, loaded gun. We even practice safe storage with our replica’s. They aren’t tossed in a toy box, they are safely stored away. It might seem paranoid, but is there any harm in being too safe around firearms?
We aren’t totally unrealistic though, we do have “water squirters”, and “nerf blasters”, but there are rules regarding them as well, and we just don’t have “toy guns” and we certainly don’t pretend we are shooting people. There are also no toy beer bottles, toy cigarettes, toy chainsaws, or toy swords, some things are not toys. For younger children especially, I feel like it just sends the wrong message.
The fact that I don’t want my daughter playing with guns isn’t because I think that guns are evil. I have always maintained the thought that a gun is a tool, and it can certainly be abused in the wrong hands just as much as it can be a tool that saves lives in the right ones. Skil saw’s, hammers, and lawnmowers are all tools as well that in the hands of an inexperienced child would most likely end terribly.
Consider this next time your child takes a toy gun to the park. It’s no secret that guns are a hot button. If you don’t agree with guns, why would you perpetuate their use by allowing your child to play with a toy one? If you agree with gun ownership, then why would you allow them to behave irresponsibly with them? Replicas should be used as an opportunity to teach real life lessons, not recklessly aimed at peers. Guns are extremely serious, can have serious consequences, and a child even for a second considering them a toy can end in tragedy.
If you’re anti-gun, I have made my case. If you are pro-gun I would expect you to have enough respect for real firearms to know that proper training is absolutely necessary if you are serious about safety, and representing fellow gun owners in a positive light.
What do you think? Where do you stand on toy guns, and where do you draw the line?