Kids With Guns!

Kids With Guns.

Bang, bang, you’re dead!!!!

I’ve been feeling a tad put out with my youngest’s fascination with guns and violence recently.  I hate aggressive play in general with an absolute passion.  You know in the school yard when fights used to break out, and you’d get a huge crowd of kids all standing round egging them on?  Well, I was never amongst the crowd.  I’d be at the other end of the school trying to find a teacher to tell, so that they’d come and break it up before someone got hurt.  Little Miss Do Gooder, that’s me!  And I don’t care even if you do think that.  Violence makes me sick.

So when my son holds a toy gun to my head and shouts ‘I’m going to shoot your head off’ something inside me curls up into a little ball and I think, what am I doing letting him ‘play’ with things like this?  When he tell me or his sister to ‘lie down, be dead’ after he’s mimed shooting me or her, I feel absolutely repulsed.  I’ve resisted having toy guns in the house for years, but now we have a couple.  One tiny white plastic one that came from an action man that was left in the house we’ve just bought, and another huge Star Wars one that Horace bought for the kids for Christmas that Sausage has just started playing with.  It makes a really loud ‘Pow-pow!’ noise every time he presses the trigger, which he does an awful lot.

I know a lot of mums let their kids play with toy guns, and that is their perogative, I’m not judging anyone – I’m just looking at my own attitude and wondering whether I’m being over the top or not – or if I really do have a right to feel like this.  I can’t possibly take the Star Wars one away because Sausage loves it.  You see that in itself seems wrong, he loves the gun, he loves pretending to shoot things, including our kitty.  I even found him asleep with the little plastic gun in his bed last night, like it was a teddy bear.  I tell him that he can shoot the Star Wars gun at inanimate objects, but he gets told off if he aims it at me or anything that’s alive, if I’m on the ball that is.

Years ago, I worked at the police station as a Communications Operative (I wasn’t a proper copper) and as part of my training I was once asked to attend a firearms training afternoon.  It was so that if anyone dialled 999 and described a man with a gun, we could attempt to establish what sort of gun it was, and the police who arrived on scene would be better prepared to deal with the situation.  There was a group of about six of us, and we all dutifully sat there whilst the firearms experts showed us the different sorts of guns, the sights, the size of them, how they were held, etc.  Obviously they were without bullets, and completely harmless.

Having said that, I still remember even now the recoil I felt in the pit of my stomach when one of the trainers held one of the guns up and pointed it towards me.  I thought ‘I never, ever, EVER want to see one of these again!’ and something inside of me clicked.  I hate guns, they are used to kill and maim people and animals.  If I could rewind all the videos and DVD’s that my children have watched that feature guns, sometimes I think I would.  I’d rather they didn’t even know they existed.  But I suppose this is the world they live in.  People do shoot and kill each other.  And even in our sheltered suburban lives, people shoot each other in films for our entertainment.  How wrong does that seem?

I’ve heard it said that, boys will be boys!  Let them get on with it! But I don’t think in this instance I can.  A few weeks ago I stood in the school playground while three boys played together.  It was all very good natured, but one was playfully knocked to the floor, the other then mimed cutting his throat while another child pretended to shoot him in the head three times.  One of the mothers of the children casually stood there and chatted about the weather to her friend in full view of this.  No-one batted an eyelid.  I felt the same feeling I used to have all those years ago when people would start battering the hell out of each other in school playground.  It’s horrible, I can’t see why anyone would think that this is a productive way to ‘play’.  Surely we’re teaching our children to think that violence, guns and aggression is ok.  Personally I don’t think it is, but maybe that’s just me being an over the top mum.

This is probably one of those subjects people take sides on, and I think I’ve stated very clearly which side of the line I’m on.  I can’t help it though, it’s something that is completely ingrained in my spirit.   I don’t want guns, real or make-believe in my life, or in my children’s lives.  It makes me so sad now to admit that these two guns are two of my son’s favourite toys now and that tomorrow he will actively hunt out the one featured at the top of this blog, and will raise it to the window to aim at birds, occasionally shouting ‘Kill!’ even though I’ve told him a million times not to.  If I took them off him, it would be classed as mean wouldn’t it?  And anyway, he’d then just pretend and use his hands as a gun wouldn’t he? What is there to do?!  It just seems tragic, he’s 3 years old and pretending to take life away from something is a game.  I despair of my parenting skills sometimes and of the world we live in.  Surely we can make a difference can’t we, or do we have to accept violence and guns as part of the learning about life process for children. I just don’t know!

Apologies for the seriousness of this evening’s topic, I just felt sick when I found Sausage curled up with this monstrosity this morning, in the place of one of his favourite teddies.


16 responses to “Kids With Guns!

  1. we have water guns, as I did with my own kids, and they have fun with them. I was like you never liked toy guns, and never had them, wont either for the grandchildren. But my son and his pals ran around with their hands shaped as guns, pegs were guns, carrots were guns and they would run around going bang bang your dead and dropping to the floor.
    Mine watched little tv 25yrs ago and certainly films were much less graphic or this sort of thing was less well portrayed in comparison to today, but they still did it. why? I have no idea. Can you stop it? no i dont think so. Is it just boys being boys? probably
    I dont feel it reflects your parenting skills at all, I think it reflects life as is and I dont think it is any worse today then when mine were young.
    Now knife culture is a different story and not a topic I wont to start on else I would not stop!!

  2. Whan my daughters were tiny, my husband was in the Army so guns were part of our everyday life and the girlssaw men carrying them every day. on top of that, we had met while I was in the TA – he was my weapon training instructor and our eyes first locked in passion while he was teaching me to strip and clean a self loading rifle.

    Despite that, we decided never to buy guns, or other violent toys for our daughters. We wanted them to see weapons as tools to be used at work, not to be used as playthings.

    So what did they do? The built guns out of Lego. They ripped the legs off their barbies and used them as guns. Sometimes I could have wept.

    But they have grown up intol lovely, kind, gentle young ladies. Maybe it was better to let them get their gun fantasies out of the way as children than have them yearn for the real thing as adults.

  3. Totally 100% behind you on this one! But kids will do what kids do – I remember playing cowboys and Indians as a child (do they do that now?) which involved pretend bows and arrows but always one side killing the other. I hate the idea of ‘Action Man’ and such toys but I am sure my Little Man will discover these things soon enough. In the meantime I can only do my best to teach him the sanctity of life and that blowing someone’s head off is not the way to get what you want…

  4. I don’t like it, but I think the most important thing is that children undertand the difference between play and real life. My eldest is 5 and he has started talking about shooting people dead. I asked him whether he thought peoploe shot people in real life, and he looked at me incredulous. “It’s just play mama”. I won’t stop my son playing with tanks that have guns, or a power range with double retro blammers, but I will draw the line at games that blur the line between real life and play too much – particularly video games. You can’t control the world around you, you certainly can’t control what kids yours play with at sschool, so the most important tool is for them to understand what is play and what is something more.


  5. ps wanted to share this post but don’t seem to have share buttons?

  6. i agree with you, we try and keep gun toys out of the house – but water guns have crept in. As others have said, kids are going to use anything they lay hands on to act as a gun – it must be up to us as parent to teach them the difference between play and real life and encourage kind behaviour!

  7. I am fully with you there I have gone out of my way to avoid BabyMibs having guns, he is almost 5 yrs old, and thankfully already knows that they are bad from a great episode of casualty that he watched a while ago, he knew that a gun can hurt people and make them “dedded” ( his choice of word!) and asked me why nasty people have them! He has assured me that he doesn’t want to be a “nasty peeple”
    However, like all small boys, he has water pistols and loves them, and his Dad let him play some computer game a little while ago that involved shooting the crap out of the enemy, when I questioned this, I got told “but mummy, its pretend, it’s not real”
    Unfortunately it is all around us, in song lyrics, films, the news, even kids cartoons on TV seem to have some sort of weapons involved a lot, and whn we finally make it to the countryside, no doubt locals will have them ( if I keep animals I may well have to hold a shot-gun of some sort just in case)
    So long as they know the difference between harmless play and the dangers of the real thing I suppose that’s the best we can do!

  8. Pingback: Kids With Guns! (via brinkofbedlam) | MibsBlog

  9. Also, when we were kids and playing cowboys and indians, or with those action men (remember them?) there wasn’t the gun culture that there is now, which is another reason why I am so glad I no longer live in London, or any other big city for that matter, it does seem far too easy for kids to get hold of real guns to me!

  10. He will grow out of it. What’s favorite today will be old hat tomorrow.
    I used to worry too. But in my day all the boy’s and half of the girls played cowboys and indians. Shooting each other etc. I even had a cap gun when I was little but the novelty wore off when I had to use my own pocket money to keep replacing the caps.
    To them it is just a game.
    We all watch things on the TV and films but it doesn’t make us all want to do it.
    The TV shows people drinking all the time but it wouldn’t make me want to do it, or smoke or gamble. I certainly wouldn’t want to blow some-ones head off etc. Although having said that there are some evil people out who may deserve it.
    The more you make a big deal about it the longer he will want it. Make a fuss about something else and he will turn his attention to that.A clockwork toy or something that talks.
    They are just children they don’t understand the meaning or danger like we do.
    It is a nasty world that we live in but let them be kids while they can.
    Your not alone but don’t let it get you down.
    Life’s too short.
    Enjoy it.

  11. well said Mum xxx

  12. thanks to everyone for their comments and thoughts on the subject. I think this is a particularly tough issue that will never be solved, in the world or in the the world of play either. I think I’ll just try and make sure no further guns are bought in this house, and try and dissuade gun play, although I appreciate it is going to happen sometimes, and that there’s nothing much I can do about it. But I agree, it’s gone on throughout the years in the form of cowboys & indians etc, maybe it is something that is simply built into kids – although I don’t like to think that to be absolutely honest. It’s a tough one!

  13. This is something I’ve pondered extensively, particularly when I was a Montessori directress. I even briefly blogged about it once – I include the link as it references a book that is well worth reading . But from being completely against guns as toys earlier in my parenting life, I’ve mellowed a lot. We do have rules – you must not include anyone in your game who doesn’t want to be included, and that means parents are usually automatically out. But apart from that and the obvious no actual hurting, I leave them to it, and it seems to work quite well. Smallest in particular has grown away from weapon use, which I think might not have happened had they been forbidden fruit as it were.

  14. I don’t know what it is but for some reason I’ve always been okay with water guns and not seen them as “guns”. Probably because they were about when I was growing up. I try not to really have any toy guns in my house either – but soon learnt that even a lollipop stick can be used as a “gun”

    Now my real nightmare starts as the oldest is a seacadet and they have real guns – and my 8 year old’s face just lit up when he saw them. Hopefully learning about them in the cadets though means they will have some respect for them and not be silly – but I still hate the thought.

    And games like Call of Duty – yuk. I have relented and let my teen play it – seemed unfair not to when my younger son (then only 7) had all his friends playing it – and online too – that I did let my 14 year old play it. Seriously don’t see the attraction myself – but maybe that is because I’m a girl.

  15. My 2 eldest are 12 & 10. The 10 year old has always been into ‘shooting’ things, but I have never allowed a toy gun in my house at all. I prefer, if they are going to play Army or similar they they pick up a stick and pretend its a gun, or make one from lego.

    And yes like PP I have relented and allowed a couple of the shoot em up games.

    I strongly enforce a zero tolerance for fighting in my house. I do not like it one bit, so if they fall out the violent games go…

  16. It is a really difficult topic. I mean, I played with water pistols when I was a kid and I’m not gun mad now or anything. I don’t even really mind the kids playing with them when they’re shooting water either, it’s when they pretend they’re bullets and that they’re killing each other it gives me the creeps. I wish we were peaceable enough not to have to worry about such things though.

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