Toy Guns Should Be Banned

Rant 70

toy gunsI've never been a fan of toy guns. It has always made me uncomfortable to see kids playing with them. Bang bang! Shoot 'em up! Aiming at each other. No. With so many other things to play with, why guns? My kids have just turned 3 so it's not a toy we've had to be concerned with just yet, but we're getting there. Maybe the tiny army figurine holding a gun wouldn't be banned in my house, but the full-on, real-looking gun for my kids to play shoot 'em up with? No thanks.

My thoughts against toy guns in my house came before the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, but some parents have decided to ban the toys because of what happened. I'm not talking directly about gun culture in America. I'm talking about toy culture.

I do not believe that what happened in Newtown happened because a kid played with toys guns. I just think it's not something that should be made into a toy. There are no toy maxi-pads, no toy tampons, no toy condoms, and no toy alcohol bottles. I don't think there are toy prescription drug bottles, but I fear there are. There are also toy cigarettes in the form of candy ... at least there were when I was a kid. This is a bad thing. Just like toy guns. Why do we need toy guns?

Well, the answer is simple really. Kids want to play with guns because if it's a toy and exists on a shelf somewhere, or your child went to play at a friend's house and he had a toy gun, then your kid may want to have their very own toy gun, too. What do we do? Do we ban all the toy guns? Make kids get a license to play with them? Tell the parents they have to pinky swear to teach their kids good toy gun play?

Mom of two daughters, Anupy Singla, told Today that she wasn't happy her kids were playing with a revolver-style toy, but let it slide until she saw the coverage of the shootings at Sandy Hook, and threw the toy guns away. "We don’t believe in playing with something that represents something that could be potentially so dangerous," she said.

Eileen Zyko Wolter has two sons -- ages 4 and 7 -- and she collected all their toys guns and stored them high in a closet after the shootings. She said, "I felt like they needed to understand that play guns could lead to real-life consequences. If you’re aiming a play gun and shooting it, you’re practicing shooting at people."

What struck me the most was mom Shun Melson's 7-year-old son's reaction to the shooting. Melson shared that when she explained what happened, her son expressed how very sad he was and he said he never wanted to see another gun again and threw his toy gun in the garbage.

Constance Katz is the co-founder of the child and adolescent psychotherapy training program at the William Alanson White Institute of Psychiatry, Psychoanalysis & Psychology in New York, and she stressed that just because a child wants to play with a gun doesn't mean that child is or will become violent. She told Today:

Playing with a toy gun is not necessarily a worrisome sign. The focus should not be on playing with guns, it should be on the total emotional life of the child.

I'm still not going to buy my kids toy guns to play with. But there probably will come a day they want one as a toy. Or someone buys it for them as a gift. I'd want to throw it out. Of course, if you tell your child they can't play with something, it often makes them want to play with it more. But in order for my kids to play with a gun, my husband and I would have to lay down some rules. Honestly, just saying that seems wrong. For now, I'm going to stick with the no toy guns policy in my house.

Do you let your kids play with toy guns? Why or why not? Has the tragedy in Newtown caused you to re-think letting your kids play with them?


Image via puuikibeach/Flickr

behavior, toys


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kelti... kelticmom

I've never let my son play with toy guns. A. Because guns are not toys, and I would never want him to pick up a real one thinking it's a toy. B. Something about watching little kids pick up toy guns ans pretend to kill each other just makes me queasy. C. As a nurse, I see gunshot wounds a lot. My husband is a soldier and has shot people and been shot at. It's not a game. I won't allow shooter video games either. When he is old enough, his dad will take him out and teach him gun safety and to shoot a real gun. But until that day, I won't have him making a game out of something so serious.

Flori... Floridamom96

No. In fact my 11 and 7 year old got 3 new Nerf guns between them for Christmas with plenty of replacement darts and discs. Youngest got a bow and arrow for his 7th birthday. They all have their own pocket knives. Over the years they've had water guns, oodles of Nerf guns, cap guns, guns they've made out of legos, or sticks, or tape, or any number of household items. Why are you so afraid of these things? They're just things.

Flori... Floridamom96

I meant, no, it hasn't caused me to rethink allowing my children to play with toy guns. And since my children have toys and have also fired actual weapons they know the difference and respect the power of guns.

belon... belongs2Jesus

my boy does have a TOY gun. It is used to teach him gun safety such as never point it at a person. He also has a TOY knife and is being taught with it the proper ways to handle a knife. A toy is not real it is a toy and can be very useful in teaching the child proper handling of certain things.

kelti... kelticmom

I'm not "afraid" of toy guns Floridamom. I've seen young people bleed out on a table in front of me. My husband has shot and killed people, and he is haunted by each one. It was necessary, but it will live with him forever. And he's still there. We choose not to let our child "pretend" to take a life for a fun game. Because we've seen firsthand the reality of it. There are hundreds of other toys, games, etc he can do and still be 100% boy without pretending to kill.

nonmember avatar Christine

Honestly my son has never had a toy gun, however he has pretended to have them from Legos, sticks, or whatever. There are some things out of your control, but what IS in your control is how your children learn about these dangerous things

Jespren Jespren

Children have been playing at 'war' since about five seconds after the first adult threw the first punch. It used to be swords, or bows and arrows, or javelin, now it's (more commonly) guns. I can see both people who live in pacifist households and people who live in military households but who never want their kids following in their footsteps banning toy guns. But kids naturally play at war and 'fight'. I prefer mine sword fight as it's a more physical pursuit than ducking for cover with a toy gun. But I don't object to whatever they choose to arm themselves with when they battles, as long as no projectiles hit faces (not a fan of nerf guns for little kids for practical reasons)

Vegeta Vegeta

There's a huge difference between nerf guns/super soakers/cap guns and a real gun. Kids know the difference, all it takes is a quick talk about "this gun is one that can do serious damage". My brother and I had all kinds of toy guns growing up and my dad had real ones. We knew not to touch his. Kids also know the difference between play food and real food so I think you should give them a little more credit.

cmjaz cmjaz

I wouldn't let my son play with a realistic looking toy gun. I'm not afraid he'll turn to a criminal cause of it. I just don't want him playing and a cop or neighbor thinks its real and there's a tragic misunderstanding. I don't condemn parents that do allow it though. Its their choice.

Karma... KarmaGrant

I never allowed toy guns. As someone else said, a gun is not a toy. How many times have we seen reports on a child picking up a gun (that shouldn't have been where it was to begin with) and shoot another child. My kid's learned there are toys and there are guns, but guns aren't toys. Family members would try to get sneaky and gift them for a birthday every few years but that didn't mean they were allowed to keep them.

My kids are all in their late teens/early 20's now and we never had any problem with them not having something. It's just how it was.

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