Until yesterday, I thought I’d heard it all. Boy was I wrong! In New York, folks were buying toy guns from kids with pizza, school supplies, and clothing. Their intention was to keep kids “fearing” guns. Their thought was that if kids played with toy guns, they wouldn’t “fear” the real thing later in life.
“It makes them too comfortable, holding that gun,” said Leonard Lane, president of Fathers Armed Together to Help, Educate, Restore and Save. “Then there’s no fear holding the real gun when they get older. We want to put that fear back into our children, teaching them what guns can do, how they affect their community.”
Now, I have to admit that I might be a little biased here, but my life experience tells me that this is just the wrong kind of message we want to be sending our children. I grew up with guns in our home. From as early as I can remember, I knew that, like fire, guns were a tool to be respected. If I had questions about the guns that were in our home, I knew my parents would answer those questions. If I wanted to shoot the guns in our home, I knew that my parents would teach me how to do it responsibly and safely. Because the firearms were demystified, it NEVER occurred to me to go looking for a real gun so I could play.
I did, however, “play guns” with my younger brother. He had a set of cap guns that looked pretty convincing, and if we didn’t have caps, we’d use other items, including our own hands, to pretend to shoot each other. We were just playing, and we knew from the beginning that the toys were nothing like the real thing.
I’m sure these fathers are well-intended. To be honest, gun violence is much more prevalent than it was in the early 80s when I was growing up. To some degree though, I think that has more to do with the ideas that todays kids get about guns. Today, they’re taught to fear rather than respect, and because it seems like there are many fewer responsible, armed citizens, today’s kids don’t have experienced, responsible role models where firearms are concerned.
Using the theory that these men used for their buyback program, we should also buy back kids’ fire trucks, fire extinguishers, and fire hats because we’re teaching kids that fire is a toy and not something that should be respected because it can kill people. I don’t see anyone trying to take away my preschooler’s “fire man dress” as he calls it.
As most of you know, I feel very strongly about protecting our 2nd Amendment rights. With those rights come responsibilities though, and thinking that you’re going to take the “boy” out of boys by taking away their water guns and Nerf shooters is just plain insane! In our home, play with toy guns is always an excuse for me to remind the kids about firearms safety. Even my 3-year-old can respond when I ask, “Now what’s the rule about guns?”, “Never point a gun at something you don’t want to kill, Mommy!”
Too many issues arise when we’re not honest with our children (in terms they can understand, of course), and “buying” toy guns with pizza isn’t addressing any of today’s problems. It also means that we’re not teaching our children about the importance of the Bill of Rights and the wonderful ideals on which this country was founded. Doesn’t seem like walking the path to liberty to me.