Tuesday, June 3, 2008

What's you stance on toy guns?

Yesterday I took Eliza for our usual evening stroll. This is one of my favorite times of day. Yesterday was no exception. The weather was beautiful, the birds were chirping and the sweet smell of honeysuckle filled the air. I used this time for quiet reflection. I tell you it is much needed after a day of boisterous kindergartner.

I usually walk all around my mom's neighborhood. I like to walk for an hour but sometimes I run out of places to go. One place I do walk is through a path at my old elementary school. It is a tiny little path with houses on the right and a wooded area on the left. There are usually kids playing basketball and and just hanging out enjoying the weather.

Anyway, on a previous walk I was just about to get to the path, which is right past the kids playground and a kid jumps out from behind the dumpster with a toy gun. It totally freaked my freak. It turns out that he wasn't trying to scare me- his friend was coming up on a bike behind me. Nonetheless, I just had the creepiest feeling. I am always on high alert when I have Eliza. I feel like a mother tiger ready to strike at the first sign of danger. My mom lives in a good neighborhood, but I am small and pretty much anyone could hurt me if they want to bad enough. I guess it is the wooded side of the path that scares me a little. Granted, I used to play in these woods all the time when I was in grade school and I never gave it a second thought. Now, I err on the side of safety and never walk there if it is too late or too dark. And I always carry my cell phone.

OK. I kind of got off topic. Anyway, yesterday I walked to the school and there were tons of kids playing. They were holding relay races; probably in preparation for a district track meet. Some kids were on bikes and skateboards and other kids were shooting hoops. Then I look behind me an I see two kinds, probably middle school age, walking with a big toy gun. Again, I was so creeped out by these kids. Unfortunately, I think they were going to play in the woods and were walking bend me on most of the path. So I spent most of my walk with a weird feeling in my gut.

I know they are kids and it shouldn't bother me that they are playing with toy guns. I don't care for guns- real or toy-they creep me out. Well, I don't think I would be scared of a musket. But I don't see too many people using muskets these days. I have had quite a bit of gang training in my school district and have seen countless pictures of kids holding guns. It is just scary to me and very sad.

All of this just got me to thinking about where I stand on kids playing with toy guns. I usually think of this as boy's toy- but who knows these days. I have to admit I don't think I would ever purchase a toy gun for my children. It just doesn't sit right with me. My husband said he played with them when he was little. And I guess he turned out okay. haha In my head I know that a well adjusted child can probably play with a toy gun, or a violent video game and everything will be fine. However, I always think there is a small number of children who just can't distinguish fantasy from reality and something terrible ends up happening.

What are your thoughts?

12 comments:

Marcy said...

I won't buy toy guns for Donovan, and I probably won't want him to own any or even play pretend with his fingers. Just as I won't want violent video games being used in our house. Yes, he'll come across these things often on his own and it probably won't cause him to be a delinquent. However with how normalized violence has become in our society, I want to still send the message that guns and violence are NOT an ok way to deal with things or even something to joke around about. There's way too many other (more productive) ways to play and use your imagination than having to go with violent games.

The preschool where I worked had this same rule (didn't allow pretend gun-play) and the kids accepted it pretty well and found other ways to play and have fun.

Tipp said...

I don't like it. I don't even like it when we have kids at church that make the lego guns.

I don't think it is app for the same reason I don't like candy cigarettes, (do they still make those?) It sends a message to chidlren that things that are suppossed to be handled with care and respect are mere fantasy. I don't like it when they "shoot" their friends and watch them roll over and die or "bomb" them in a firefight.

It is all very disturbing, and I also detest the whole boys will be boys argument. No, it is a learned behavior not an innate one.

Future Mom (Heather) said...

just like tipp, i was thinking about candy cigarettes too. we used to have them all the time and thought they were so cool. i am pretty sure they stopped selling them at candy stores but you can probably still find them online. i don't know if there was a study done to see if those actually led to smoking but you never know. are there any studies about toy guns leading to violent behavior? anything is possible - but i think we can thank tv and video games for that!

as far as the guns thing is concerned, i am ok with water guns but not toy guns. does that make any sense? i feel like you need to teach kids (that are the appropriate age) about them and how they are dangerous and you shouldn't play with toy guns or especially real guns.

if the kids are too young, i don't think they really understand what they are doing, they are just copying what they see on tv. my mom used to always get calls that my brother was making guns out of legos at pre school and pretending he was the ghostbusters, terminator, etc. I don't think that makes them a bad kid, i feel that people should pay more attention to their kids in general-perhaps if they weren't allowed to see all of these violent movies & play the violent video games, they wouldn't even want to play with guns in the first place.

Lori said...

I have an issue with toy guns too. I think they are given to children at an age that is much too young to comprehend the difference between fantasy and reality. We live in a society that portrays violence as a glamorous thing and that is soooo unacceptable. Children struggle with the understanding that guns don't work like their video games (the person can't just get back up and have a do-over).

My husband and I have talked about this as he was a child who grew up playing with guns and playing army and stuff, but I know he sees the difference in society now so I don't think it is going to be a big issue in our house. When Blake is older he will learn about guns and gun safety, but not until we decide he has a true grasp on the difference between real and imaginary.

When I taught violence of any kind was not allowed in my classroom and the children accepted that as the way it was...

Jenn said...

I won't buy them for my son ,well sons now I guess I'll have to get use to that ! Anyways if someone else gives them one as a present I won't say anything ,I just won't buy any! My husband was in the Army for a long time and always hunted as a kid but I have told him I do not want to have real guns in our home ever! We don't and I don't think he would ever insist on it knowing how I feel. My older boy never really ever played guns even at friends houses so maybe I'll be lucky and the little fella won't want to either.

Pam said...

I am with you. I tend to err on the side of being cautious. Guns in general give me that bad feeling in my stomach. I know that 90% of the world can use them responsibly and all is well, but there are just so many cases of those who can't. That scares me. I also think that toy guns make kids think that it is okay to point a person and I do not believe that should be done. I understand guns for hunting or safety- certainly I don't think a cop should not have a gun. But just general everyday you and me- I don't need it. But....

my hubby played with toy guns, my step sons have bb guns and build guns with legos, etc. I haven't been successful in convincing him of my feelings on it....so.....who know what will happen with Riley.

Christy said...

I won't buy my children guns either. We'll stick to crayons and sidewalk chalk.

Dana said...

I too am ok with water guns during the summer time.. But toys guns are a big NO NO with me..

Being a teacher I think toy guns and the glorification of guns contributes to violence in schools.. Violence in schools is getting worse and worse too..

In my classroom I don't even let my students pretend they have a gun or make paper guns. I totally promote non-viokence!

Missy said...

My sister and I were never allowed to play guns, but we were girls and really didn't care anyway. My husband was also never allowed to have a toy gun, but he says that he ended up making his own out of sticks or a piece of wood or something instead - maybe it is a boy thing??

I am not sure how we will handle it here just yet. I definitely don't like toy guns, but my husband is okay with it, as long as the real dangers of guns such are understood. He hunts occasionally, so he feels that a toy gun used to play with is okay, as long as our kid isn't shooting at other people. I don't know how that would work out though, so I guess we'll see....

Andrea said...

This is a tough one...I don't know EXACTLY what I think on this, but I'm definitely leaning towards the "no toy guns or shooting stuff" for my son.

Marmarbug said...

I don't like the toy guns. But even when you DON'T buy them kids learn from one another and fabricate anything to look like a gun. I think in our society today that the best things we can do is teach them that guns are not toys and that they should not be used in game play.

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