Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Touchy Subject...

I need to preface this post by saying that this is IN NO WAY a criticism of other people's parenting choices.  My own choices are not black and white on this topic.  I'm just exploring my own feelings on the topic.

This looks pretty innocent, right?
The other day, our family was coming home from an outing and got into a lift at our local railway station with another couple and their toddler in a stroller.  The toddler had a little gold pistol which clicked when he pulled the trigger, and he proceeded to "shoot" each person in the lift in turn.  Ari looked at him confused, because Ari has never really seen a toy gun.  Bryn laughed at the boy, because the boy was laughing and was very cute, and Erik and Luey put on their best poker faces because they know all-too-well that their mum objects strongly to toy guns.

Before Christmas, there was a Kris Kringle in the 3/4 classes at school, and both my boys participated.  Erik came home with a yo-yo and Luey came home with a twin pack of water pistols.  As mean as this may sound, the pistols went in the bin.  Not only will I not buy fake guns for my boys, but I won't allow others to buy them for them either.

Bryn does have one toy which resembles a gun, and it launches a bat-like creature into the air.  I have allowed him to keep this gift because it's not actually a gun, but a propeller mechanism for the bat-like creature...  I'm not 100% comfortable with that decision, but I'm trying not to over-react to my complete loathing of guns.

Not quite so innocent looking.
I really do have a problem with guns.  I don't have a problem with knives or swords, bows and arrows, or even spears or axes, but I do have a problem with guns.

Guns were solely invented for the maiming or killing of humans at a distance.  Yes, they have been used for hunting, but that was secondary to their original purpose.

People often say gun play is harmless, and yet, if toy shops sold "water-boarding" kits, or "Nooses", or games that encouraged children to mimic strangling one another, parents would be appalled.  My children have had Lazer Tag parties, and have accepted (and will continue to accept, I'm sure) invites to Lazer Tag parties, so I can't sit on my high horse and judge others, and this is not what I'm trying to do, either.  I do wonder why I have allowed them to have Lazer Tag parties though, when the very thought of having toys guns in the house makes me anxious and even a bit angry.

My brother once had a real life gun held to his person.  It was unloaded, but the threat to him at the age of eight was still very real.  I just don't see gun play as harmless.  At the very least it's is a form of disassociation and desensitization, at worst it makes pretend maiming, killing, and generally evoking fear as a form of power over someone else, a fun game.

By the way - these boys are holding TOY GUNS.
Why does our society continue to tolerate or even encourage this form of play?  Why do I?


Rachael said...

I don't like it either and haven't allowed it. That said a psychologist once told me they are fine, and they can have a toy one or they'll just pretend something else is one anyway, and that it's a totally normal way for boys in particular to let out aggression in a safe way.
I just don't like them full stop.

Leah said...

The scene you describe in the lift is extremely off putting to me. Little kids running around shooting each other, falling over, creating a story line, not so much, unless a child was particularly obsessive and using it as an outlet for something concerning. In which case it isn't the guns then i guess.

What I find off putting is the coldness of shooting someone without their consent, without being engaged in a mutual game. Perhaps this is why you find lazertag acceptable, you go to a certain place, don equipment, there are rules, it is more like "tag" than real applications of guns.

If I let my kids have guns, they would never be allowed to shoot strangers ... what is that teaching them, that others in public are the backdrop for your amusement, at *best*?

Sif Dal said...

Rach, I don't stop my children from making guns with lego or sticks or the like (though I strongly discourage it by gone on ad nauseum about what it actually means to shoot someone), it's the placing into a child's hands a gun replica that I find abhorrent...

I find gun play more offensive than hand to hand combat scenarios because it's so "remote" - killing with a greatly minimised risk to self.

Rachael said...

Leah has made an interesting point which probably touches on my main concern...which is perhaps the other person doesn't want to be 'shot'. I know I don't, and often the girls don't...so yes this distinction is important. F doesn't have a huge obsession with guns per se but geez if all the lego games/sets etc these days don't have firearms?

Good Job!