Monday, February 26, 2007

Sleeping with Guns

Gunplay among children, especially boys, is certainly a hot
topic. Many mothers are vehemently
opposed to it while some feel that it is harmless and natural for boys to want
to play with guns. I am somewhere in
the middle of these two extremes, trying to decide how I feel. I grew up in a home with no guns. My Father is not a hunter. The closest I came to a gun as a child was
hearing my brother talk about target practice at Boy Scout camp. That was close enough for me. I did not care about guns or weapons at
all. I was all girl and preferred
Cabbage Patch Kids and Barbies to guns and swords.

My son’s favorite activity is playing policeman or
cowboy. These activities always include
guns. He fell asleep last night
cuddling a little neon green handgun that came with a police kit that I got him
at the dollar store. My sweet little
boy, who normally sets up his stuffed animals in a row and meticulously covers
them up to their necks so they won’t get cold, slept with a handgun last
night. It was a little disturbing for
me but I am coping.

My husband grew up around guns and has assured me that
gunplay is a natural activity for boys. He frequently played guns with his two brothers (both of whom are now
policemen) and turned out just fine. He
is a classic middle child, though, and is the only one of his brothers who
doesn’t have to remove his firearm to sit down for dinner. I’m not quite sure what this says about gunplay but his brothers
are both highly responsible, upstanding citizens that just never lost their
interest in guns. As long as my husband
and I make a concerted effort to educate my son about the dangers of guns and,
if his interest continues, proper safety and use, I will accept his interest. I’d prefer that he grows up to
enter some sort of non-gun-carrying profession but, if he is destined for a
gun-centered profession, I’d prefer law enforcement to violent crime. I wonder how many hardened criminals slept with
toy guns as preschoolers. It might be worth
looking into.


  1. Due to my past, that I won't go into, there is no way on God's green earth that my son is going to have a gun. I have debated the water gun, and I'm not too happy about it, but as long as it doesn't look like a real gun, I'm okay with that. I have guys in my family who are cops, in the army, hunters, this that and the other thing. So I know that he will understand the dangers that are involved with guns. But no matter what, there is to be no one with a gun that will walk into my house. My uncle-who is the cop-I make him leave it in the car. I see no point of it being there. So, that is how I feel on the issue. I must say, if I were you, there would be no way that I could cope with someting like that. Good for you!!

  2. Linda-
    I don't know if it is "good for me" or not. Allowing my son to play with toy guns is not something I'm shouting from the roof tops with pride, it's just something I've learned to deal with b/c he seems to love to play with them so much. I plan to do my best to limit his exposure to guns and violence in the media and try to keep his play with them at an innocent (if that is possible) level. It is definitely a struggle for me and I empathize with Mothers on both sides of the debate. Thanks for your input.

  3. Neon-green isn't too bad, I remember my 3 little darlings using up my black electrical tape because they had ran out of black felt-marker ink turning their pink and green water guns into black coated look alikes. I'm old school, and actually started out knowing that a gun could increase the amount of protien at the evening meal, and, yes I knew early on that bacon came from something different than the grocery cooler. All that being said, I think that if there are going to be guns anywhere in the future of your children (and they will at some point be exposed) would it be better to at least have them know what guns are capable of, so, if necessary, they will know when to duck and cover, or, at least know not to touch and to tell an adult about the exposure instead of being curoius as to what would happen if they 'just picked it up, or held it for their friend?'

  4. Papa Dale-
    That is kind of how I feel. I'm not exactly going through gun safety with him when he plays with his dollar store neon plastic gun but I think it is important that he is aware of the dangers of guns and never to touch one, etc... I guess I worry that he will feel MORE comfortable touching one if he DOES play with them. It's such a Catch 22. I'm not sure there is a right answer. One thing I do know: I am not going to be the one to teach him gun safety. I think my never shooting a gun in my life probably disqualifies me from that role.