Wii gun. Amazon.com
When I heard a toddler died because she mistook her father's loaded handgun for a Wii controller, I had the same thought as you -- what is a loaded gun doing around a 3-year-old?
But while many bloggers have turned this into an argument against letting kids play with toy guns, living in rural America I hoped it would shed light on something even more important: how to turn toys into safety tools.
Believe it or not, many experts have given the OK for kids playing with guns. In a report from the Department for Children, Schools and Families in England titled Confident, Capable and Creative: Supporting Boys' Achievements, the experts called for educators and parents to encourage fantasy play, even with the use of faux weapons.
"Creating situations so that boys' interests in these forms of play can be fostered through healthy and safe risk-taking will enhance every aspect of their learning and development," they say.
Note the word SAFE. Growing up in a town where we got the first day of deer season off from school, guns were just part of the landscape. They were in plain sight -- albeit locked up in gun cabinets -- in the homes of my playmates.
And with their near omnipresence, my parents decided it was important to face the problem head on. Just as we were taught to hold scissors with the point facing down, we were taught NEVER to point a gun at someone. Not even a toy.
I'm not entirely against those parents who decided to keep the guns out of the house -- a friend's ex-husband is a police officer, and she is very jumpy about her kids considering his gun as a possibly plaything. But even if your kids are just using their fingers, getting them in the habit of not pointing it at someone is a good way to prevent disaster.
Do your kids play with toy guns?