Parenting

Is a gun ever a toy?

July 16, 2013

kids and toy gunsFrom our time of yore, Mister H and I have a dress up box. Deep within the depths of said box live a variety of ensembles from costume parties past.

If you were ever looking for some silver Zebra print Euro trunks (didn’t arrive on time for the actual ‘Into the Wild’ party and have never worn out of the house), some Steve Irwin khakis or a fluffy tiger bikini (totally got worn out of the house!), drop me a line.

Another folly I could cater for would be the Lone Ranger. In case you’re wondering, I make a cracking Lone Ranger and that party was actually the last time I was hit on by someone that was not my husband. Obviously, some dudes have a penchant for chicks dressed as Super Cowboys, or the fact that he couldn’t see most of my face made me more attractive.

I digress……

As I was hunting in the box for some cat ears, D Man spied my shiny Lone Ranger gun. He wanted it. I placated him with Steve Irwin’s rubber snake, but he did not forget about the gun’s existence and has asked for it a number of times since.

I don’t feel comfortable with the idea of my kids playing with guns.

I’m not saying that all kids that play with guns end up popping caps in people’s asses, nor am I suggesting that everyone that plays Cop and Robbers ends up as either Dick Tracey or Martin Bryant… or George Zimmerman.

I’m just saying that guns, by their very nature, are created to kill people.

I’m was a little flummoxed by my reaction so I put it to my peeps on Facebook. It appears to be a rather polarising subject and I was surprised by the amount of reactions I received on the subject.

A number of people, whilst not exactly loving it, or encouraging it, see it as a fairly harmless form of play and if managed correctly is totally fine. They have not bought toy guns for their kids, but have acquired them along the way and just roll with it.
Some of these people direct the play by making sure it’s more about the games being played – ‘Stop, FREEZE!’, or ‘PUT ‘EM UP’, and less about the kill shot.

That said, kids love a dramatic death. I’ve seen a five year old play ‘dying’ and it’s actually pretty funny. Dying is an inevitable part of life. Kids don’t play ‘ravaged by cancer’ or ‘horrific car accident’, they just play at a vague concept of pushing up daisies. The are too young to comprehend violence.

We pray.

I played Cowboys and Indians growing up ( I always preferred Doctors and Nurses truth be told. I was biologically curious, shall we say. I am neither a doctor, a nurse or a sex addict now, so we can safely say that play will not necessarily be enacted in real life)

“Our brains are built on a hunting platform,” according to Jordan Bernt Peterson, a psychology professor at the University of Toronto and specialist in childhood and adult aggression. “People, especially males, are hard-wired toward weaponry and taking aim at something. Almost all of our sports are taken from this premise,” says Bernt Peterson. “There’s not too much difference from shooting a puck in a net than taking aim at a friend.” Plus, says Bernt Peterson, “it’s cruel not to allow your children to play out their instinctual wishes.

Cruel to disallow? Interesting.

Other people were more anti as ANTI. No guns. No way. Never.
If they were at someone’s house, who had toy guns, they would request for them to be put away because their kids could not play with toy guns, of any description, ever. Period.
One of my readers who is a teacher said that she did not allow toys guns in her home, nor on her playground watch at school.

Guns simply are not toys.

In fact, the mere sentence playing with guns is a but of an oxymoron, isn’t it? By it’s very nature a gun is a killing machine.

My cousin sent me a link to a youtube clip of an 11 year old girl stripping and rebuilding an AR15 rifle. In fact, she was setting a record. Under a minute.
She was pretty chuffed. Initially, I was shocked, and appalled, and I’m still frightened by her gusto, but one of my readers made me see it in another light.

She grew up on a farm, and she was raised with guns in the house. Her father taught her how to pull them apart and clean them and put them back together. They were a part of her way of life, therefore education and supervised handling was allowed – encouraged even – to demystify the object, because her father was scared that if it was a big secret thing, she’d go for it on her own.

Not that we’re discussing real guns, I just love to waffle on…. and that’s a-whole-nother debate.

I have to admit that one of my favorite comments was very irreverent…. my friend said she loved nothing more than shooting the shit out of her kids with quality water pistols, and she wasn’t fussy what the ammo was.

I reckon D Man will forget about the gun in the cupboard in a day or two, so I’ll have a bit of time to decide if I’m down with water pistol wars in the backyard in future years, but I don’t think I’ll ever be cool with guns that look like guns, that sound like guns or act like guns.

How does it works in your house?

How do you feel about toy guns?

POST SCRIPT –

A friend posted this comment to this post, and I thought it was so awesome that it should be added to the post.

I was watching my kids this morning & got to think about your post again. You will find as your children get older that there is alot of parenting focussed on what I consider to be “side issues”. There is a whole industry that encourages obsession with the side issues of raising amazing human beings. For me, the toy gun debate falls into this category. Weapons as toys doesn’t even rate on the scale in our home where our effort goes into teaching and practicing the characteristics of genuine kindness & servanthood, graciousness, forgiveness, internal motivation, generating your own fun in life, citizenship, environmental passion, human & animal rights, loyalty & humanism. Not to mention discipline & boundary & goal setting.

All of those character traits are diametrically opposed to almost everything guns stand for. In this environment, the toys guns, the nunchucks & the ninja stars find their place & are only accorded the status they deserve.

As a parent one of the biggest challenges we face is staying focussed on the BIG jobs of parenting. I guess some could argue that an extreme view on their child never seeing or laying hands on a toy gun feeds into those BIG jobs. However from my point of view I think it’s plucking at the low lying/low value fruit. It doesn’t actually acheive what you’re setting out to do which is slowly & consistently impress upon kids the importance of human life & life in general.

If you liked this post like my Facebook page right now, or subscribe via email and be sure to always keep up with the Holsbys.

Hooking up with the Essentially Excellent Jess and the IBOT kids because I’m blogging on Tuesday.

Don’t forget that the next DP Bloggers Drinks are on the 27th July at the Argyle in the Rocks. Any bloggers keen to come along and put faces to names, be sure to RSVP here.

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29 Comments

  • Reply Gary Lum July 16, 2013 at 8:02 am

    I grew up the eldest son of three boys. My local cousins were boys. The street was mainly boys. we played cowboys and indians, we played war games after watching WWII and Vietnam War movies. I had toy guns. With Lego I made spaceships and guns. With mechano I made cranes and guns. My Dad bought me an air rifle and I became proficient with it. More importantly we played cricket and footy in our yards. We rode our bikes to creeks and caught lobbies and fish. We wrestled and fought. Occasionally there was blood. I don’t regard any of my childhood behaviour as bad or of concern.
    I’m grown up now. I’m a medical practitioner. I have daughters. They never wanted toy guns and I never wanted to play gun games with them.
    If I had sons I’d want them to play outside and do things and not spend their day playing video/computer games.
    Do I want to kill people? No, I’d prefer to heal them.
    I’m sure our childhoods do influence our adult behaviour, but well adjusted adults can moderate and learn to behave better and become part of society safely.

    • Reply Keeping Up With The Holsbys July 16, 2013 at 8:15 am

      Beautifully put, Gary. My hubby played a lot of gun games too and he’s all for it.

      The people we grow are more than just the sum of their games…. I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

      Sent from my iPhone

      On 16/07/2013, at 8:02 AM, Keeping Up With The Holsbys

  • Reply Sarah July 16, 2013 at 8:47 am

    I’m more of a go with the flow type of mum. I don’t like guns or buy them or let others give them to my kids. So no toy guns in our house.
    But that does not stop Master Nearly Four from improvising out of sticks, cardboard roll from the inside of the paper towel, wooden spoons and so on. All combined with shooting sound effects. This I let him do until he starts saying he is going to shoot you, me or one of the pets. I make it clear that living things are not to be shot at, though trees and plants are the exception.
    Light bulbs, chairs, fridges are also fair game.
    Where he gets these notions from I have no idea? The worse he has seen on tv is ABC2. He doesn’t go to day care and interact with other kidlets hardly ever to learn how from others.
    So I believe it is highly instinctual and the whole difference in how girls and boys play differently is based on the majority of nature, a whole different subject!

    • Reply Keeping Up With The Holsbys July 16, 2013 at 9:03 am

      That’s so interesting!! I just assumed D Man got it from school or big kids, but the fact your L’il guy seems to just ‘know’ about it is fascinating.

      Thanks for sharing!

      Sent from my iPhone

      On 16/07/2013, at 8:47 AM, Keeping Up With The Holsbys

  • Reply Bunny Eats Design July 16, 2013 at 8:55 am

    It depends on the country and how guns are perceived. Over this way, if I see a gun, it is 99.9% going to be a toy gun. But if guns were more prevalent or common I might have an issue with it. I feel like if you have equal real guns and toy guns in your house, it’s sending mixed messages. If you ban guns, even toy guns, then your kids may obsess over them.

    The Koala still plays gun games. Most days. Doesn’t mean he ever wants to shoot anyone.

    I’m not into shooting games or guns. But fired a revolver in a firing range in Thailand just to keep The Koala company. I have to admit, it was a lot of fun firing a gun. I can see why some people enjoy guns so much. Not for me, but not sad that I tried it.

  • Reply monk-monk July 16, 2013 at 9:25 am

    I’d much prefer toy guns playing Cops & Robbers out in the backyard, than playing gun games on the computer or in a video game. I’m not sure why, but the play-pretend of turning sticks into guns (or, for me it was a bow and arrow as a kid) seems about play and constructing stories and more healthy than video games doing the ‘same thing.’ Not sure that makes sense.

    Potamus is still too young to even ask for guns, but I’m sure there’ll be some around, but not by us buying them. I think taking a healthy middle road is best…I know that all the things ‘forbidden’ for me as a kid made them all the more attractive…and then, I begin to ramble…

  • Reply coloursofsunset July 16, 2013 at 10:58 am

    Nick has been given 2 nerf guns – one at Christmas one at Birthday, one I was asked if was ok the other (the first one) I was not. I was shocked a bit at first, and not sure what I thought. He played with it for a while then lost interest. I am on the fence on this one. I think in some contexts it’s fine, in others it’s probably not. It’s knowing the difference I guess. I think at a young age they’re too young to understand or know what they’re doing, but if a 12-18 year old is playing shoot-you-dead games with guns I’d be concerned and making sure he never got his hands on a real one! -Aroha (#teamIBOT)

    • Reply Keeping Up With The Holsbys July 16, 2013 at 8:27 pm

      I think that we really need to use common sense with this one. Someone else said they’d rather their kids running around playing cops and robbers than playing shoot em up video games…. me too. Not sure why, except I hate video games even more than guns play!!!

  • Reply The (toy) gun debate – or ‘why my single parent father got yelled at a lot when I was a little girl’ | 10 Percent Inspired July 16, 2013 at 11:28 am

    […] friendly about the whole business, which was nice! She’s written a post on the subject “is a gun ever a toy?” I even got a mention in it, I’m the farm girl whose dad taught her all about guns and […]

  • Reply Eleise July 16, 2013 at 11:41 am

    I grew up with guns and spent our weekends at the rifle club and as kids we learnt to shoot. As a teen I was a navy cadet and pissed off all the guys when I smashed them with my gun accuracy! As a kids we used to go out hunting with dad and kill kanagaroos and rabbits. If the laws were not so tight, I would probably still shoot. BUT I do not allow my child to play with guns, and I do not allow fighting games to be played. Guns are serious and I was always taught gun safety, it was never ever a game to me. Killing was never glorified, we didn’t have play guns. I respect guns and I know they kill, my kids don’t have the opportunity to use real guns and will never “play” guns either.

  • Reply Mandy July 16, 2013 at 11:47 am

    It’s a really really tough one.
    I don’t like guns, I’m completely and utterly anti guns when I read and see the distruction, especially in the US.
    However, I do believe in the idea that sometimes things that are out of reach, off bounds, are sometimes more desirable, especially for children.
    I don’t seek to go out and buy my children toy guns. But they have been given one or two and I have to say I’d rather them play with them, and be less facinated with them, than them seem attractive from a distance.
    Of course toy guns and real guns are very very difference as is the learning behind them.

  • Reply [email protected] of Toast July 16, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    My two boys (and their ex-military father) have always been interested in guns and weaponry, especially antique guns. They have had toy guns, and they occasionally play video games with shooting. They respect guns, they have a very good knowledge of gun safety, they understand the danger of guns, and they are both thoughtful, intelligent boys who know the difference between fantasy and reality.

  • Reply Me July 16, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    We only had one child – a girl – so guns never really came up for us, We did own a gun and we carried it on us when we went out. I didn’t like shooting it but I knew that if push came to shove and someone had broken into our home and was threatening my family, I would shoot.
    It’s a hard call – if you say you – you make them out to be bigger than they possibly are and children are always curious about what they can’t have. If you say yes, are you condoning guns ?
    Sorry – I’m not help !!!
    Have a great day anyway !
    Me

  • Reply Sam Stone July 16, 2013 at 8:12 pm

    We dont have any toy guns. But our little miss sometimes plays shooting games with her hands as guns. I have to admit that I dont like it.

  • Reply Have a laugh on me July 16, 2013 at 9:26 pm

    I actually wrote about this the other day, briefly, after my daughter pointed her gun at me, my boys both under 3.5 haven’t got the concept yet but I’m sure they will one day. Someone told me as long as they were water pistols they weren’t worried. I haven’t made up my mind yet. Then again my husband goes hunting, we both grew up on farms and have fired guns… BTW totally bummed can’t get to meet your awesome self on July 27 🙁

    • Reply Keeping Up With The Holsbys July 16, 2013 at 9:33 pm

      Totally bummed, lady!!!

      I don’t know the answer, but I reckon it’s deeply steeped in common sense and instinct. We know what games seem malicious and what seems harmless.

      Sent from my iPhone

      On 16/07/2013, at 9:26 PM, Keeping Up With The Holsbys

  • Reply The Real Mummy July 16, 2013 at 10:18 pm

    I’m of the “no toy guns” mind set. I don’t think they are fun and feel there are many other options for play. If hey’re a power ranger, they can pretend to have whatever blaster thingy they need with their hands lol. No guns in this house I’m afraid!

  • Reply Adrianne July 17, 2013 at 5:00 am

    I’m not a fan of guns, toy or otherwise. Right now we only have the one child, a girl, so I’m hopeful that this won’t be an issue for us with her. But if we ever have a boy, I’d be very uncomfortable with him “playing” with guns. I think I would lean toward not buying them, but also not trying to completely shield him from them either. Ideally it wouldn’t come up until he’s old enough to have a conversation with me about it because I think there could be some great discussions had. But that seems unlikely in the world we live in, especially considering we’re in Texas, and it seems everyone is gun-obsessed.

    • Reply Keeping Up With The Holsbys July 17, 2013 at 6:57 am

      As Aussies we were so shocked to see the recent gun debate raging over the 5th amendment. It’s so foreign to us that so many people would want to bear arms, especially considering the damage it’s doing nationwide.

      It seem even the government’s hands are somewhat ties on the issue.

      Texan is right up there so I dare say you will have some gun chats in your future.

      • Reply Adrianne July 18, 2013 at 4:13 am

        Yes, I imagine we will. I’m kind of the black sheep in my family in terms of my thoughts on guns (well pretty much politics in general, haha). Everyone else proudly owns them. It’s very strange to me, and most of the time I feel like I was born in the wrong country:) If Australia weren’t half a world away, I’d be living there in a heartbeat!

  • Reply Nealie July 17, 2013 at 8:54 am

    I was watching my kids this morning & got to think about your post again. You will find as your children get older that there is alot of parenting focussed on what I consider to be “side issues”. There is a whole industry that encourages obsession with the side issues of raising amazing human beings. For me, the toy gun debate falls into this category. Weapons as toys doesn’t even rate on the scale in our home where our effort goes into teaching and practicing the characteristics of genuine kindness & servanthood, graciousness, forgiveness, internal motivation, generating your own fun in life, citizenship, environmental passion, human & animal rights, loyalty & humanism. Not to mention discipline & boundary & goal setting.

    All of those character traits are diametrically opposed to almost everything guns stand for. In this environment, the toys guns, the nunchucks & the ninja stars find their place & are only accorded the status they deserve.

    As a parent one of the biggest challenges we face is staying focussed on the BIG jobs of parenting. I guess some could argue that an extreme view on their child never seeing or laying hands on a toy gun feeds into those BIG jobs. However from my point of view I think it’s plucking at the low lying/low value fruit. It doesn’t actually acheive what you’re setting out to do which is slowly & consistently impress upon kids the importance of human life & life in general.

    • Reply Nealie July 17, 2013 at 8:58 am

      PS – I think my comment is relevant even in societies with gun violence problems. I think restricting access to guns is a great idea, but I don’t think access alone is the problem, it’s a parenting “side issue” in most of the homes where you see gun violence occurring.

    • Reply Keeping Up With The Holsbys July 17, 2013 at 9:39 am

      Nealie, I think you just summed up perfectly how I feel about it after giving it much thought!!

      After reading so many responses and considering how other’s feel and approach it, it’s made me realise that it’s more of an instinctual thing. I’d rather they play cops and robbers than play shoot em up computer games, of instance. It’s not black and white, as so many other things in life.

      I think your fruit analogy is perfect and I’m posting it on my FB page.

  • Reply EssentiallyJess July 17, 2013 at 9:18 am

    I always said I would be anti gun play, but I found that BJ would shoot things before he had ever seen a show with any kind of shooting in at all. I’m fairly certain that boys shot things before guns ever existed. It’s just part of being a boy. I think the key to anything is conversation about it. The different between a toy gun and a real one, and how they are used. Relationship ins to be the most important thing we build its our kids.

  • Reply Sonia Life Love Hiccups July 17, 2013 at 10:28 pm

    I remember being at the Easter show once and seeing a little kid of no more than 4 with a showbag full of guns. I looked at my newborn in his pram and declared I will NEVER let my kids play with guns. I learned however to eat my words, because my kids as they grew up used their fingers as guns when they played star wars and zombies, so it was a no win situation. We now have a whole arsenal of Nerf Guns so I guess they won. I do think however they need to be educated on just what guns can do and the chaos and carnage they can cause. Definitely a good debate that one xx

    • Reply Sydney, Kids, Food + Travel - Seana July 18, 2013 at 9:30 pm

      Same as Sonia’s story at our house. Lots of Nerf guns and one teen enjoys shoot ’em up Xbox games… and I’m cool with it… in moderation as with all things (except chocolate, sex and sleep of course.)

    • Reply Keeping Up With The Holsbys July 19, 2013 at 3:13 pm

      Did you see the response one of my awesome readers gave, Sonia? I posted it to my FB page. I think every single parent in the universe should read it. Possibly the bet piece of parenting advice I’ve ever heard. Let me know if you want me to flick it to you xx

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