In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook, Connecticut, and other school shootings, there has been renewed controversy about children playing with weapons, and with “weapons” of any kind being in schools. Common sense seems to have gone out the window in many instances. Seven year old children have been suspended from school for things as ridiculous as biting a pop tart into a gun shape (while he said he was attempting to make a mountain) and drawing a picture of stick figures with a water gun.
I will say right up front that I think it is fine for children to play with weapons. With proper supervision, toy weapons can teach respect and responsibility for real ones. I am in the camp that believes that our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms is one of the cornerstones of our freedom in the USA. Gun ownership ensures that citizens can protect themselves and helps keep our government in check.
I don’t believe that playing with guns turns children into criminals or thugs. My husband and I both grew up playing cowboys and indians. He had a BB gun, and I had a couple of 6-shooter revolvers with pretend bullets. I also had a real bow and arrow set at 10.
I used a pocketknife, responsibly, from the age of 7 or 8 to carve soap and whittle sticks, as did my children. I knew that my Daddy had guns in the house but I respected Daddy’s admonishments that guns were dangerous and I should stay away from them, unless he was shooting them with me. My children grew up with that same sense of respect for weapons. I believe they learned responsibility, strategy, and team work through Airsoft and paintball battles, and ultimately shooting real guns.
My children had some school friends, whose parents were opposed to their children playing with weapons. If parents ever expressed concern to me, I let them know that indeed our home was full of real and pretend weapons. I also assured them that the real guns were all locked up. I told them I would try to encourage activities that did not require weapons, but I could not guarantee the kids would not play with any toy weapons. Even Legos and Blake’s Playmobil pirate set contained weapons! I don’t remember anyone keeping their children away!
Most families with whom we associated also had homes filled with toy guns, swords, light sabers, ninja accessories, Power Ranger weapons, Nerf guns, water pistols, and other assorted weapons. Parents who forbid their children to play with weapons are often totally perplexed when their children circumvented the lack of guns by pointing their forefingers or devising guns and swords from sticks. Improvised weapons are everywhere! Cardboard tubes from wrapping paper make for some great sword fights.
Our family has great respect for those who have served our country, and those who continue to serve. Guns and knives are a large part of military heritage, and “playing soldier” is, to me, an expression of patriotism. Two of my son’s grandfathers landed on Omaha Beach during WWII. My son developed a keen interest in WWII and other military history through researching and reading about various weaponry. As a youngster, he knew more about the guns used in WWII and the Civil War, than most adults. The detailed battle scenes he drew were amazing.
My son has quite a collection of “real” knives. He started collecting them when he was about 4, and used them only with adult supervision. His authentic Vietnam and World War II knives are among his favorites. Both of my children were adept in the use of knives at an early age. They also learned about where meat comes from through hunting. My children thought nothing of helping clean game birds or skinning a deer while they were still in pre-school.
My children grew up being responsible with weapons. They were taught to respect weapons and to handle them safely and correctly from an early age. They have grown up being comfortable with firearms. I believe it is important for everyone to be able to defend themselves, should the need arise.
Hunting has allowed my husband and son to spend a lot of quality time together over the years. That closeness continues today. Our daughter doesn’t go on trips to to the hunting property any more, but she enjoys spending time with her Daddy and all the hunting dogs!
In my opinion, gun violence is not perpetuated by children playing with guns or by responsible gun owners. I believe that criminals, thugs, mental illness, and the breakdown of the family are the main reasons that there is gun violence in our society. Limiting the types of guns and ammunition magazines that are legally allowed will do nothing to stop those who are intent on violence, or already breaking existing laws.
Do you let your children play with guns or other weapons? I’d love to hear your point of view!by