I played with toy guns as a kid, and I bet you did too…but there is a pro-gun argument against toy guns.
On a windswept hillside, I had finally brought my enemy to bay. He turned to me, hair a-tangle and knees a-scabbed, and said, “At last, it’s come to this.” He brought his weapon up, but my draw was quicker: In half a second, I had emptied my ammunition into his center of mass. “Now my shirt’s all wet, ya dick!” he bawled, and our water wars continued.
That’s the way it was back then; we all played with toy guns, and none of us went on to become violent or criminal as adults. These days, it’s getting harder and harder to find toy guns to give as gifts to the kids in our lives, and it’s a tremendously sad reminder of how far our culture has shifted. But there are a few reasons why even some staunch Second Amendment supporters hesitate to give out toy guns to the kids on our Christmas lists. (And, by the way, none of this is prescriptive, or even necessarily descriptive of this author’s feelings. In fact, I plan to write an article highlighting the other side of this argument soon.)
Pictured: Not a toy.
Toy Guns Might Muddy the Gun-Safety Waters
It’s not that most of us have any difficulty telling a toy gun from a real gun. It’s that the vast majority of toy-gun play is going to directly contravene everything you’re teaching or will teach that child about gun safety with real guns. After all, the whole point of a toy gun is to point it at your idiot buddy and say “bang, bang,” right? Well, as an adult who either is teaching or will teach the Holy Trinity of gun safety rules to that same child, how can you square “Never Allow Your Muzzle to Cover Anything You Aren’t Prepared to Destroy” with that kind of play? Although most children have no trouble differentiating play from reality, there are enough who do to give some parents pause. (Looking for some pointers to help you figure out whether your kid is ready to learn about gun safety? Click here!)
Some Adults are Confused by Toy Guns
For me, this is the pro-Second Amendment anti-toy-gun argument that holds the most water. When earlier generations were growing up, adults knew that there was no reason to panic if they saw a child playing with something that looked like a gun. These days, not so much. Schools have gone “zero tolerance” for anything even remotely gun-shaped. A child who wants nothing more than to play Cops n’ Robbers at recess can find him or herself facing expulsion, even (proof that this is a world gone mad) criminal charges for having something like the cap gun pictured above in their backpack. The problem with letting a kid have a toy gun isn’t with the kids at all–it’s with the so-called adults who can’t be bothered to apply a little reason and perspective to each individual situation.
Finally, of course, there’s the question of “mistaken identity,” in which a law-enforcement officer might mistake a toy gun for a real firearm, and treat its wielder accordingly. That actually seems to be quite rare, and in the cases I’ve been able to find, the problem wasn’t “toy guns” per se, but older kids and teens brandishing realistic-looking BB guns.
Where do you stand? This Christmas, will you give toy guns, or no?
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