Guns. And Kids.

Screen Shot 2019-08-26 at 9.47.47 AMWhen my kids were little, I taught preschool and kindergarten.  I saw many kids from different backgrounds in my work.  This was over 40 years ago.

The discussion of gun play in early childhood persists, as evident by Facebook teacher sites, and the controversy I discovered as an educator and parent has not changed, even in the face of today’s violence.

As a parent, I did not want guns of any kind in my home.  My position was that the gun itself inspires violent play, and I did not want that to intrude on the children on my watch.  Children will always use their imaginations to create whatever play objects they require, and even a piece of toast manifested as a gun during breakfast at our house.

Last week, I took my granddaughter to Target to spend a $20 cash birthday gift from a relative.  She bought an umbrella, a stuffed animal, and a “magic, transforming” sword and shield, from the sale table.  The sale toy was a replica taken from a cartoon character, a dark-skinned princess with special powers who helps to solve problems in the world.  I was so conflicted!!

As a mom of both boys and girls, and now a grandmom of a boy and girl, I see that the world is different for each.  Girls receive the message to be quiet, pretty, and subservient, and boys are acculturated to amass power.  Even in 2019.  So I acquiesced.  And a toy modeling a powerful, strong, non-white heroine was a plus for me.

But.  When the toy came home, I immediately saw the transformation not only of the flower to the shield, I saw two kids playing happily to two who were in conflict.  As a caregiver of two children, I could decide to monitor the play and use it as an opportunity for a lesson.  For the meantime they are stored “up high.”

I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I know a topic for a good debate when I hear one.  Feel free to share.

My pacifist inklings say that there is enough violence in the world.  When kids are at school and at home there are different dynamics.  So for now, I say, “No guns.”



2 thoughts on “Guns. And Kids.

  1. Wendy ~ This is one of the many challenges of our current era, most definitely. When I was a kid my father (a WWII fighter pilot) repeated, often and at the most unpredictable times, that guns had one main purpose: to kill or injure, and that we should never EVER point a gun at a person. Oftentimes I was more struck by the randomness of his insertion of that concept into our otherwise ‘normal’ times together. But the message went in deep. Deep enough to save my brother’s life.

    My dad let us shoot guns at fairs, at Disneyland (in FrontierLand), etc. I was actually quite a good shot, so of course I thoroughly enjoyed my times with guns … yet, my father’s words were never far from my conscious awareness. One time my brother and I were at home, while our stepmother was resting, I found a gun in a drawer. I took it out onto our deck, looked down at my brother who was mowing the lawn, and aimed the gun at his head. It was a clear shot. My finger was on the trigger. I actually didn’t think it was a real gun, because it didn’t have a hammer. (I later learned that it was an air pistol, which doesn’t require a hammer.) But my Dad’s words started reverberating in my mind…. so I pointed the gun out at the birds on the bay, pulled the trigger and shot. It looked like I’d hit the bird at which I’d pointed the gun, but that didn’t make any sense to me, since I really thought it was just a play gun.

    My stepmother came running out to where I was, and in a panic asked what I was doing, and I easily volunteered that I was just practicing with the play gun I’d found in the kitchen drawer … She set my thinking straight on that misunderstanding, and I’ve been breathing a sigh of relief the rest of my life that I didn’t have to live with the horror of having killed my brother. (Though, the next day, I did find a seagull that had been shot on the beach in front of our house.)

    What, for me, is the lesson in all of this? Well, I let my boys play with guns when they were little, because it was so clear that it would have been sooo unnatural for them not to … but they received the same repetition of the same mantra that my father introduced into my awareness. They got annoyed with me about that, but I took my father’s lead, and never backed down. To this day, my boys still enjoy shooting guns, but their awareness of safety requirements genuinely dispels all my concerns about them making any regrettable mistakes. And, I understand that guns are totally repugnant to you and others… which I get and totally respect, by the way. I guess I’m just a little more of a tomboy than you …


    1. Thanks for your enlightening point of view and story. No, guns are not repugnant to me. I think the whole gun topic is like sex in our country: confounded and convoluted. I just want kids to be safe, and I want our time with them to be cultivating honesty. I think we can do that without the confusion of guns at school.


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