4-Year-Olds With Gun Licenses -- Brilliant or Insane?

Sheri Reed

gun toy handmade homemade

Excuse me, kid, you got a license for that gun?

What better way to teach kids proper gun responsibility than to issue them a gun license at a really young age -- like kindergarten! -- and then let them not only carry a gun, but also show them how to properly store a gun and even let them fire the gun -- you know, as long as it's not at another person.

Sound crazy? Well, several childhood centers around New Zealand have already adopted this gun license plan for kids.

Before you flip out (or hoot and holler with glee because you're a wacky rifle-toting nutjob), you should know these kids are not getting real gun licenses nor are the kids issued real guns. They are given handmade licenses at school after they go through safety training about the real implications of improper gun use and then they get to make a cardboard gun, which is stored in a "gun rack" between play times. In other words, they are allowed to play with guns, as long as they can do so responsibly.

Before I had kids, I probably would have scoffed at such a program and squawked about how it's just promoting gun use. However, now that I see how much weight "gun play" holds in my boys' imaginary games -- even though we don't own or use guns -- I think it's rather smart. Gun play isn't going anywhere for kids, particularly boys, so we might as well try to instill them with some reality-based lessons about guns where we can.

The best part of the kinder gun license program? If kids "pretend shoot" a friend or teacher with their cardboard gun or even an illegal finger, their license is revoked.

Our biggest issue at home currently is overly zealous "light saber play," so this could be a fantastic place to start. Luke Skywalker doesn't pull out his saber every other minute and slash down friends or allies. He keeps his weapon tucked safely in his belt until he must defend himself, right? Think this will fly with my boys? Yeah, I'm not so sure. Who wants to play Luke Skywalker when he's just standing around, light saber safely tucked away? Or Han Solo responsibly putting his blaster away in his gun rack. Not my boys. And not me, for that matter.

I'd love to think this kind of program would help, but in the end, what fun is gun play if you can't use it to go "kill" your friend (or brother)? It's sad but true. Can gun play that doesn't involve taking someone out really still be enjoyable? Playing "Responsible Target Shooters" just wouldn't hold the playtime thrill and excitement of "Cops and Robbers," now would it?

What do you think about this gun licensing program? Smart or a waste of time?


Image via woodleywonderworks/Flickr

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