"Of Kids and Guns"

Regardless of their political leanings, it’s not hard to find urban parents that are not only opposed to their children being around firearms, even in the most responsible of environments, but many seem to oppose their boys or girls playing “cops and robbers” or any sort of imaginary play that would involve play guns, swords, etc.  Even parents more neutral about these topics often preclude certain types of children’s fantasy play, so as not to upset other parents with whom they and their children socialize.  Reports of school officials who have harshly admonished children for making impromptu guns out of sticks and fingers are common knowledge. The erroneous belief is that such play (or, God forbid, being in the vicinity of responsible and educational firearm handling) would stimulate their children’s brains toward realistic violence, perhaps even using real versions of the same toys of their fantasy play.  Is toy weapon fantasy play bad?  How should parents handle children that are unrelentingly interested in guns, swords, knives, and the typical fantasies of childhood play, especially among boys?   

    Playing with toy swords, guns, knives, etc. is normal boy (many girls, too) behavior.  It is one of the ways children can experiment with the limits of their personal power, work out concepts of good vs. bad, right vs. wrong, the need to make contact with others, and establish himself as a player in the universe.  They may then leave it all behind, healthfully completed in his/her fantasy world. 

    These days, many of our children have a distorted view of firearms, not at all helped by TV and video games. To so many urban children, given the various social environments in which they find themselves, a firearm has often become something other than a tool that has an appropriate place in our society, history, and culture.  It is up to us as parents to correct those distortions, in whatever way we can.  Ultimately, it is the responsibility of each parent to understand his and her child and to know the limitations of what may or may not be appropriate for that child. 

    If you are the parents of an emotionally healthy child who is steadfastly interested in guns, whether or not you come from a shooting tradition in your family or origin, it might be a good idea to see that your child is the recipient of some good and well-established firearm education.  It also may even bring a stronger bond between parent and child, if one of the parents became interested and took part in that education.  This kind of monitored approach, along with parental involvement, may lead to healthy and responsible behavior in the presence of firearms, and perhaps could even extend to other situations that may require a virtuous response in your child.

I welcome the opinions of those with different ideas or thoughts.  

Richard