Moms Talk: Should Kids be Allowed to Play with Toy Guns?

Our local moms consider weather violent-looking toys should be played with by their children.

Weapons as toys: is it acceptable to pretend to shoot, stab, etc?

Faith Mellinger, local business owner and mother of two boys (plus one on the way!) writes:

I grew up in a weapon-free house--not even squirt guns were allowed--and I would have been more than happy to raise my boys the same way. Then one day I came home to a Nerf gun. Harmless plastic pellets (until you get one to the side of the head) made me realize my "house of boys" was going to be much different than the girl one I grew up in.

The amount of toys that come with guns, swords or other weapons concerns me, yet we still buy them. During a recent share day at preschool my son chose to take a LEGO guy and I thought nothing of it. Later he said, “You don't bring weapons to school.” After some conversation we realized the LEGO guy had a gun (most of the new ones--Star Wars, Ninja, etc.--have weapons). I felt guilty that I let him take it, but later realized that it was good that I didn't keep him from sharing the toy. I could have kept him from taking the Lego person with the weapon, but I don't think it would have had the same impact as the message that he brought home with him from his preschool teacher.

I’m still not completely comfortable with the weapons, but I realize I can’t shelter my kids from the realities of the world. I think we need to teach our kids the dangers of weapons--toys and the real things--and showing them the appropriate way to play is one way to do that.

Jenny Shepard, full-time working mom of three boys, writes:

We are a non-weapon household. My children are not allowed to use the words gun, kill, shoot or hate. They are also not allowed to play with anything that closely resembles a weapon. We don't let them watch the news because those words unfortunately are used too often. We know they will get an earful when they are old enough to understand the damage and pain those words cause.

They learn these words and gestures from school, television, and video games. We talk to them (really it’s just the 6 and 4-year-old so far) about how they are not to use those words because they hurt people. It’s always funny over the summer to listen to them correct each other from using "squirt guns" to "water squirters" so they don’t get busted by mom and dad. I know we can’t shield them forever but I feel like the longer we can protect them around this subject, the better.

Jaime Townzen, Monrovia Mom and mother of two young daughters, writes:

I really don’t like encouraging any sort of violence, and would prefer my kids never play with a toy weapon of any sort. But, they have friends. Dani goes to preschool and Kara goes to daycare, and so they interact with kids who have toy weapons, make toy weapons, and even pretend to shoot with their finger if nothing else is available. I never played this way growing up, and neither did my brother or closest friends, but I can watch Peter Pan and see the boys playing with cardboard swords and understand the fun in it for some children.

In reality, Disney movies tend to have violence, and all too often that includes a weapon. Dani gets extremely upset by the villains in these movies. In the recent Rapunzel movie, she was nearly in tears when old Mother Gothel stabbed the hero with a dagger. This lead to a lot of discussion.

Our stance is to consistently tell the girls not to be mean, and especially not hurt other people in any way. I regularly explain that even pretending to hurt someone is not nice and could hurt their feelings. Whether with words or actions, the girls know that anything they do to hurt another person will have a significant and immediate punishment. And we tie all of it into discussions of our faith. But that is another topic for another day.

Molly April 13, 2011 at 11:13 PM
I grew up in a house where my father still to this day shoots rifles and pistols professionally (at targets in shooting ranges). I have always had a very healthy relationship with weapons: guns should be had for protection and for shooting at targets professionally only. I always felt very safe in my home and still to this day do not know where my father keeps his guns because we were not allowed to know. He brought us to the shooting range when we wanted to learn how to shoot them. It is a sport just like any other, and the more mystery you cloud around these things that are part of everyday reality, the more confused and scared your kids will be. I grew up understanding that the movies are fake, and therefore never was damaged or scared by them because they are a fantasy. Sure there are people out there who buy guns illegally or use them improperly, but for those of us who are responsible, it really does not harm kids.
Raymond Aguirre April 14, 2011 at 05:44 AM
I must say that we as parents must do our part and teach our children as much as we can the good, bad, and the ugly of this world and not shelter them. My 10 year old son is a skilled marksman, and continues to display proper gun etiquite, and responsibility. To not allow children to use the words "hate," or "kill" I understand, but the words "gun," or "shoot?" Children must be able to express themselves, and if strong words are used, you parents need to teach your children the meaning of those words, and why it is important not to use them so loosely. If they "hate" green eggs and ham, they hate it, it's an expression. I always take into account the intent of the use of the word, and not just the word. We need to allow our boys to be boys, play cowboys, and indians, space rangers vs. aliens, and sward swinging ninjas, and express themselves the way nature intended. We are raising boys to be men, not pansies.
Molly April 14, 2011 at 04:23 PM
couldn't agree more Raymond - we shelter them too much and they are shell shocked once they enter the real world! Hey - we turned out OK right?
jen April 14, 2011 at 04:44 PM
If they dont like green eggs and ham, they can simply say they "don't like it" instead of using the word HATE. It all goes back to the the movie Nemo for us where he says "I HATE you Dad"...our youngest at the time starting repeating it..."i HATE school", "i HATE this meal"...etc , we had to lay down the law that they dont use that word because its hurtful and there are other words that can be used in lieu of it. Boys can not only play cowboys and ninjas, but they can play sports, ride bikes/skateboards, play music, and a number of other creative activites that don't include weapons. Im not raising pansies, im raising boys to be well rounded, athletic, artistic, confident, mindful and not little thugs who only know how to shoot things.
Tonya S April 14, 2011 at 11:17 PM
My 3 year old has a buccaneer's gun from Disneyland. He shoots "monsters". He's not allowed to point it at people. I believe that it's more important to teach kids not to respond to conflict with hatred than it is to ban toy weapons completely.
Manly Pete April 15, 2011 at 07:11 AM
How do we know that nature "intended" them to want those things?
Raymond Aguirre April 15, 2011 at 07:40 AM
Manly Pete please watch your language, as we are all adults freely blogging about our thoughts on children playing with toy guns. Not all boys like to play with toy guns, swards, etc. I can agree with you there, but toy guns have been around for a while now, and parents who teach their children responsible, and safe play generally do not have issues of violent children. I have one son who is a Boy Scout, and always volunteers his free time. Now, if that sounds like I am raising what you refered to as an "A-hole" you obviously have it twisted. One sidded thinking is what is wrong here, and not knowing how to debate as an adult is another problem here. would I let my kid walk down the street with a toy gun? No! ! I would not. Wake up man.
Lynsey Pearl December 11, 2012 at 07:11 PM
So if your children may not use guns, you can't really go to many places. Arcades, sports places, even Disney Land has guns.
Lynsey Pearl December 11, 2012 at 07:12 PM
So if your children may not use guns, you can't really go to many places. Arcades, sports places, even Disney Land has guns.


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