The first time I pulled my kids out of a game of cowboys and Indians, the neighbors thought I was crazy. When I confiscated any water gun that wasn’t bright orange and see-through, my relatives looked at me like I was nuts.
My kids have heard the “Guns aren’t toys, and they shouldn’t be treated as such” so many times, they could recite it in their sleep. These days, they just roll their eyes in my general direction.
No, I’m not one of “those” people. I’m not going to stand outside and picket a gun store. The whole “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” thing? The right to bear arms? I’m right there with you.
Heck, I live in a part of the country where it’s totally kosher to skip school the first day of hunting season. People near and dear to me have, against my better judgment, wandered out into careers in law enforcement. I definitely appreciate the value of a good firearm.
But accidents happen. But you can’t predict the unpredictable. But kids act without thinking all the time. And that’s how people get hurt.
Kids Don’t Always Differentiate Between Toys and the Real Thing
I’m a firm believer in nature over nurture when it comes to behavior. Especially behavior around a firearm. Kids who spend their entire lives around actual, honest-to-goodness, could-go-off-and-kill-someone guns learn caution at an early age.
Kids who spend their formative years pointing plastic guns at each other’s heads are going to have to be re-taught when the time comes to use the real thing.
While we’d love to think that our habits change with the situation…they really don’t. I was reading a post from a mom the other day who’d always been comfortable with toy guns. She freely admitted, however, that she’d made the rules expecting toy guns to be the only kind her kids would be around.
It was a decision she regretted when her son pointed an (unloaded) pistol at her head.
Maybe I’m a Little More Irrational Than Most. But I Have My Reasons.
Let me backtrack just a little here. I don’t allow firearms in my house. I don’t have them. I don’t allow people to bring them into the house. I’ve been known to have conversations with the local police on the front steps because I didn’t want a gun in the house where my 1 year old, my 3 year old and my 5 year old running around. (My neighbors were interesting. Don’t ask.)
Those are my house rules. Keep it in mind if you come to visit.
However, I’m also looking around for a firearm safety course for my 10 year old to take this summer. And his brother and sister will follow in his footsteps at some point after that. When I’m fairly certain they can follow directions well enough not to get themselves killed.
Contradictory? Not as much as you’d think. I learned how to shoot a lot earlier than that. (What? Just because I don’t like guns doesn’t mean I don’t know how to use them!) Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems like curiosity and carelessness are the foundation behind just about every gun related accident in the country today. It’s my hope that by teaching my kids that guns aren’t toys and should be handled with respect from the very beginning, I’ll never get the phone call that one of them put a bullet in another kid because they were messing around.
What do you think? Do you allow your children to play with pretend guns?