Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Plugged ducts and toy guns

Today I got a plugged duct. But I'm so fatigued that I've been failing to pronounce the final "t" in the word "duct." So I'm left with this image in my brain:

Which makes me, in my loopy state, think back to Jonathan Turley's piece on toy guns, as well as the subsequent chat. If I had to guess, I'd venture to say that some of my regular readers do not want their child(ren) to have toy guns.

I hadn't thought much about it before reading Turley's article. I grew up with a few toy guns, but I distinctly remember each one: a silver gun with an ivory handle, which came with a holster as part of a cowgirl outfit that I wore when I was very young; a Star Wars blaster that I carried with me the Halloween I went trick-or-treating as Princess Leia; and a cap gun I got in Colonial Williamsburg (I hardly ever put caps in it--they were too loud and the resulting smoke smelled narsty).

AB doesn't have any toy guns yet (just cool swords), so I've avoided thinking too much about whether I'm OK with my boys playing with guns. I'm certainly not averse to squirt guns--they're a fun part of hot Washington summers, and I look forward to getting into watergun fights. I don't think I'd object if a family member gave AB a toy gun if it was an old-fashioned type gun or rifle, or something out of Star Wars. But I might feel a little uncomfortable if someone bought him a toy machine gun or something that looked like a handgun. Not sure about that.

Do your kids have guns? If they do, is it something you're concerned about? If they don't, was that a conscious decision?

(proper credit for the picture, which I did not take: http://users.mtrx.net/funnypics/content/-rdm1-ABCD1234-rdm1-/2005/2005-08-23-0002/send_e-mail.jpg)


Blogger AAYOR said...

First, ow.

Second, the Bug is only 14 months and so far the gun issue hasn't come up.

I'm thinking that thorougly unrealistic guns--like neon water guns (esp the ones that hold a gallon of water) or maybe guns that shoot ping pong balls would be ok with me. I have a feeling that some Uncle or other will think its kitschy and fun to get him a bb gun at some point--not sure how I'll deal with that when it happens.

But realistic guns that are around solely for the purpose of mimicking real gun violence? Nope. Don't want to do it. And I hope that Spouse agrees with me (though we haven't explicitly talked about it).

(For some reason my 3 year old nephew is hung up on making everything into a gun... spoons, chicken strips, his fingers. And he doesn't have any toy guns.... Of course, he's always been a little strange).

10:00 PM, February 27, 2007  
Blogger Mieke said...

This has been a topic of conversation at our house too. Both of my boys, but especially the five year old, turn everything into a gun. He loves, loves, loves, loves, loves enacting battles and reading about George Washington, Paul Revere, etc... with all of the rifles and pistols pictured. Lately he's been fighting the red coats when he and Gabo stage wars. His favorite scene in Mulan (his father bought it for him) is the battle scene with the Huns. I don't know. Boys are just different.

I also had cap guns, six-shooters. I don't know how I feel about it. I used to watch Westerns all the time as a kid. When people got shot they fell backwards.

Jonas got his first gun from his father on Halloween to go with his pirate costume. In CA you can only sell toy guns in crazy neon colors so there is no mistaking the real thing. So he posed with his orange and yellow gun in all of his pictures.

Guns are for killing. How do you get around that? There's no such thing as "fun" killing and yet that's what we did all the time when we were little and played Cowboys and Indians.

We talk about guns all the time. What to do when you see one. But how's a kid to tell what is real and what is fake?

We have always had water guns. Ok...clearly I have no sane and well thought out policy on this. I am going to check back here to follow all of the comments.

10:53 PM, February 27, 2007  
Anonymous Lisa V said...

We have no guns. And water guns look like fish or whatever, but not guns.

We have a friend's son who was killed three years ago when another boy brought out a gun to "show" the boy. There was no violence intended. It just happened. I just don't want my kids to think weapons are safe to handle. I think giving them a gun as a toy sends a mixed message.

But truly this was an easy decision for us. No one we know hunts or collects guns or uses them for target practice. None of our friend's kids have guns. It's not much of a decision for us.

I don't judge others who make differing decisions. This is just ours.

10:55 PM, February 27, 2007  
Anonymous KathyR said...

I grew up in a house FULL of guns. I'm not kidding. We sold one hell of a collection when the old man died. We were taught gun safety early on and feared the old man's wrath enough to know better than to touch any of his guns without his supervision.

I support gun-control measures. I am a semi-quasi-pacifist. I don't own any guns.

My kid has owned and continues to own toy guns. Nerf guns, Star Wars guns, squirt guns, cap guns. And a large collection of toy swords and light sabers, too. And plastic toy soldiers and war-related video games. And books and DVDs about wars, real and fictional. Now that he's a teenager, the guns are "airsoft" guns (like BB guns, fairly realistic looking, only the BBs are plastic now), having graduated recently from paintball guns.

I worried a bit when Uncle R bought him the first Nerf gun. Because lefty semi-pacifists are supposed to worry about such things. Even if they grew up in an arsenal.

Guns are part of the world. We don't live in that perfect violence-hating utopia we tell ourselves that we want. Kids try on things from the real world. We can guide and suggest. We can prohibit and allow. I've gone the way of mostly allowing. Partly for the reasons already expressed -- they'll make a gun or a spear or a sword out of a stick they find in the backyard or they love Star Wars and want to swing a lightsaber or wield a blaster like their cinematic heroes. And partly because my own experience growing up around real guns didn't turn me or my siblings into Gun Nuts or Violent Psychopaths.

11:58 PM, February 27, 2007  
Blogger ccw said...

Sorry about the ducts! Ouch!

First, I have real guns in the house. Mr. MFBA hates them but I grew up with guns and was taught gun safety early on. Kid L has been taught about guns and now that NSBH is older I will start with her.

As for toy guns, we don't have any and I won't buy any. On the other hand, Kid L has always watched us play pc games that have violence so I don't know if not doing toy guns makes a difference.

9:00 AM, February 28, 2007  
Anonymous Genevieve said...

Hope the ducts get better soon!! Ouch ouch ouch. I used to get them all the time (and have multiple techniques for clearing them).

J. has numerous toy swords, but no guns. Guns bother me much more - I've explained this as "you [almost] never read the paper and see that someone has been deliberately or accidentally killed with a sword
[there was one bizarre murder a couple years ago . . . ], and innocent bystanders don't get killed with swords." I see fencing as an elegant sport (and great for our budding Shakespearean actor / swashbuckler), but shooting as a sport doesn't appeal to me, which is more a personal thing.

My DH thinks kids should be taught gun safety (not that he thinks we should ever have a gun), which I'm OK with. Bright neon water guns don't bother me so much, but I'd rather have them in other shapes. J. rarely turns things into guns nowadays, and when he did it earlier, learned that he better not point them at anyone.

I think the parents who shunned Turley's kids were overreacting hugely. I'm not terribly bothered if J. ends up playing with toy guns at someone else's house, but I have talked to him about what to do if anyone ever shows him a real gun. Reading Turley's chat, though, where he said that in a study, almost all boys would pick up a gun whether or not they'd been taught to leave them along, I think I should be more proactive about asking parents if they have guns in the house . . . I just never know exactly how to say it.

9:57 AM, February 28, 2007  
Blogger Jody said...

I found out last summer -- when Wilder really, really, REALLY wanted to use his vacation money to buy a $5 plastic "western" rifle -- that Calder won't let us buy the kids toy guns. Although he did let me give Elba the blaster that goes with her Amidala costume at Halloween (so I get I know what Wilder's going to figure out sooner or later).

I have no very strong opinions about the issue. Our neighbors down the street gave their son a set of nerf guns: they shoot little darts, and two people play -- you put on these little sticky vest thingies, and then shoot EACH OTHER. For safety reasons, I am always telling kids we don't aim guns at people, which is what I've said before at my friend's house, because their children have MANY toy guns (including the air rifle kind that shoots corks -- their oldest child is five), but this nerf toy thwarted that rule rather neatly. Oh well.

I worry mostly about real guns in houses, especially in this area. Not everyone is smart about gun cabinets, having a gun locker at the hunting club, etc. So we've already talked about the rules if you encounter a real gun (first rule: get out of the room with the gun FAST). And I guess we won't have toy guns because of Calder's rule, although blasters look like the squeak-past-the-rule exception. But if Calder hadn't cared, I would have let Wilder buy the toy rifle last year. It's just not that big an issue for me.

11:42 AM, February 28, 2007  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

My inlaws have given the boys toy guns, and we didn't raise a fuss (although I cringed a little inside) and the boys love them. We mostly follow the same rule as Jody -- that you're not allowed to point toy guns (or even toast bitten into a gun shape) at people.

Thanks to their steady watching of things like KimPossible and reading of old issues of Fantastic Four, they're as likely to "boom" or wrestle their imaginary foes as to shoot them.

What's the Bettleheim quote about fantasy -- children already know that there are dangers out there; what they learn from fantasy is that the dangers can be defeated.

5:39 PM, February 28, 2007  
Blogger Angry Pregnant Lawyer said...

It's funny that you mention Bettleheim, Elizabeth--I was just thinking the other day that I wish I had the time right now to re-read The Uses of Enchantment (I read it about 15 years ago).

9:45 PM, February 28, 2007  
Blogger Yankee, Transferred said...

My kids were never interested in playing guns as little kids. We had no toy guns, and no issue. I'm such an old hippie that I would have been against it, but probably not vehemently-if they want to play guns, they'll pick up anything.
That said, I have always asked if their friends' parents had guns in the house, and one the one occasion that the answer was "yes", I invited the kid to our house every time instead. I don't trust all parents to be as careful as CCW.

10:42 PM, February 28, 2007  
Anonymous dagwood said...

This is an issue I really struggle with. I have a 5 year old son and a 3 year old daughter, and EVERYTHING gets turned into a weapon of some sort. We don't have any toy guns in the house, but that's never stopped him from pointing just about anything and "shooting".

We do have very good friends who have guns for hunting, so obviously this is a particular area of concern. I've spoken with my son at length about what to do if he ever sees a gun (leave and get an adult IMMEDIATELY).

This was recently tested when he was playing after school in his school's playground with his two little friends, and they found a gun in a pile of leaves. They immediately started playing with it and shooting it at each other. It was a toy gun, but how the hell would a group of kindergarteners know that?!?!? Scared the bejezus out of me.

I'm really at a loss on how to handle this. Obviously, drilling him about what to do if he sees a gun did not work. And it's next to impossible to change the way he plays, especially now that he's in school and playing Star Wars with his friends all the time.

I don't know if there's an easy answer to this.

11:12 AM, March 01, 2007  
Blogger The Optimist said...

No guns in our house, but our 3-year-old frequently turns stuff into a gun. Which we promptly stop him from doing.

We're stictly anti-gun (quelle surprise, I'm from urban, central Canada) and so we pretty much give a one minute talk when this comes up. And we try to get him to verbalize back to us the "why"s of our position. Which he does. But cognitively, I don't know how much he really gets what it would be to really hurt someone with a gun.

I think most people know well enough to never give us guns for the kids, but I would have no problem disappearing any gun more serious than an obviously silly water gun.

PS APL, thanks for the email :)

2:29 PM, March 01, 2007  
Anonymous lawmummy said...

We won't do guns in our house.

My parents did not allow any form of toy gun in our house. Lest you start thinking that they were hippy freaks, you're only half-right. They were not hippies.

We had real guns in our house. We did, after all, live in the rural south. My parents felt it was really important that we understand the seriousness of guns - and know that they were NEVER to be played with. So, no toy guns.

I like their thinking on this issue (which has to be a first).

No guns.

6:03 PM, March 01, 2007  
Blogger kenju said...

I'm not in favor of them. I think my son had a gun or two when he was small, but my girls didn't, of course. I've noticed in my grandchildren, the boys will play "guns" with their fingers, or some kitchen tool taken over for that purpose. Their father had real guns (kept unloaded, and in the attic) and it scared me to death that the boys knew they were there. I'm so glad that their step-father doesn't have guns.

10:52 PM, March 01, 2007  
Blogger Bridget said...

My Dad emailed me the post article ASAP because he probably owns 200 guns and hunts and teached gun safety. With him as a grandpa, I know my son will have guns.
I'm ok with it because I grew up with them too and we were taught to respect them and to use them safely.
I think though if you are going to learn to respect firearms you must be careful with the toy side so there is no confusion between real and fake.
I disagree when people say that boys will make everything into a gun innately. We show children how to play by our own work, play, and language. Right now my son is much more intersted in pushing buggies and "folding" laundry than anything else. When we show them how fun a water gun is we can't be suprised that they imagine everythign to be a gun.

7:52 AM, March 02, 2007  
Blogger ewe are here said...

When I read Turley's article a couple of days ago, I really thought the parents who made comments/left in a snit overreacted. The subsequent chat seemed a little more rational, at least the comments I saw early on.

I had a cap gun as a child. And we played all the traditional childhood games at the time, pretend guns and other weapons included. But times have changed, so it makes for an interesting debate / dilemma for many.

I'm about to have a second boy. And I fully expect they're going to want water pistols, swords, etc at some point. And I don't have a problem with most of these. I think, though, I'll probably draw the line at anything 'too realistic', but primarily for their own safety.

4:24 PM, March 02, 2007  
Blogger Grace Christine said...

My mother brought over my brother's ancient air rifle (shoots dirt or whatever) for my son when he was about nine. So he had a rifle. So his friends came over with their rifles to play. Pretty soon one was crying and going home. You see, to play these games, one kid has to be the bad guy. There were no bad kids in our neighborhood. This particular one grew up to become both a lawyer and a marine. I instituted the cowboy rule of check your guns at the bar (kitchen) buckaroo. And they all played happily ever after (and were quite relieved, I think).

6:29 PM, March 02, 2007  
Anonymous terrilynn said...

My eight-year-old son has always been enamored of all things weapon, and can turn almost anything into one. He's an equal-opportunity weapons enthusiast, though; he likes swords and light sabers as well as guns. My rule has always been no pointing at people, and he understands and obeys that, with the knowledge that if he forgets, he loses his weapon for a specified amount of time.

For his most recent birthday he got his late grandfather's BB gun. We have very specific rules about its use by which he must abide, and he's fine with that. His father and my stepfather continue to teach and emphasize gun safety.

9:36 AM, March 03, 2007  
Blogger Magpie said...

No guns in my house. No Barbies or Bratz either. As little pink as I can manage (she did just get pink sneakers). No "branded" characters (although two Elmos snuck in). No commercial television. Tool belt okay. Dollhouse okay. Musical instruments okay. Paint okay.

11:39 AM, March 04, 2007  

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