Are usually very well meaning people, unless they are Sarah Brady or Diane Feinstein or Rosie O'Donnell, and sometimes I even agree with the reasons they have. The parents, not those three ladies whose names I mentioned.

I mean of course it is better to teach kids to play with each other and cooperate. Better for them to see what they can do if they help each other, rather than make a game of shoot each other's head off.

But there is a downside to this, making guns verboten, be it real, airsoft, replica, or cap and ball, gives them this mystique. This false sense of magic.

Consequently, these kids will probably also not have any firearms handling training, unless of course they get sent off to military school. And this, can be dangerous. It is better to educate than to just plainly say no because I said so.

You can never childproof a gun, but you sure can gunproof a child.

Instead of needlessly bloating e2, I'll instead put a link here that points to a related article,

Firearm Safety, a matter of education not legislation.

When I was a child I never played with toy guns, other than squirt guns, and those, by design, are intended to hit a target, preferably in the face. It was fun to run around with a squirt gun on the lawn on a hot summer day, all the kids fighting for space at the hose once we had unloaded our cargo. I never learned anything about real guns.Because my parents were not gun owners they thought that fact alone would prevent me from ever finding one.

This presented a dangerous problem, when at the age of five I found a real gun with my cousins while visiting our great-grandmother. Andy was five and a half, Kathy was seven. We had spent most of the day exploring the basement, making up scary stories about the furnace, looking in drawers and boxes, wanting to find something interesting. My entire extended family was there, at least thirty people. The three of us were all worked up and the screaming was getting to the grown-ups, so we were instructed to be quiet and find something else to do.

We quietly sneaked up the steps and into my Uncle Stosh’s room, and suddenly Kathy had his top drawer opened and, there under his underwear, a handgun, the first I had ever seen.

Kathy was mashing her hands together and had one eyebrow raised the way she was prone to do whenever something BIG was about to happen. Andy licked his lips. Our hearts were pounding, we were squealing as quietly as we could. We knew we would get in trouble for this if we were caught. Then Andy had it out of the drawer and we studied it, heads touching. When it was my turn to hold the gun I was surprised by the weight of it, almost dropped it. And then I did what I thought you were supposed to do with a gun, lifted it, pointed it at Andy and pulled the trigger.

I remember how his face twisted in fear and he began to cry. Fortunately the gun was not loaded (amazing, since Uncle Stosh usually WAS.) Then there was a lot of screaming and "NEVER NEVER NEVER point a real gun at someone! What if that was loaded! I am telling!!" I remember thinking, "Loaded? What does that mean?"

Until that moment I never really knew anything about guns, lacked even the most basic understanding. I could have shot my cousin in the face.

I am guessing my parents never talked to me about guns because we did not own any, which made it a non-issue. I am guessing they figured I would be too afraid to pick up a gun if I did come across one, that my first instinct would have been to go and get an adult, or that I would never dream of pointing it at anyone, let alone pulling the trigger. This assumption could have been fatal.

Personally, I think of a gun as a weapon and not a toy. Because I want that distinction to be very clear I do not buy toy guns for my children. That is a matter of personal choice.

I do not own a gun myself, but I can see the value in showing them a real gun, showing them how they are used, how they are not used and how to handle them. If nothing else they should know never to point one at someone else and to always assume the gun is loaded. Whether you own a gun or not, if you have children they need this information. You can not be everywhere they are. Even in a house full of grown-ups a few kids can find trouble. I could have killed someone when I was five, because I was totally ignorant about gun safety. That would have been tragic no matter what side of the argument you favor.

I remember the day as if it was yesterday.

Fifteen years ago, I was about six years old, and I was “helping” my dad doing the dishes. At my house, “doing the dishes” has always been a rather intellectual affair. I would sit on the kitchen counter drying an occasional plate or fork (about one every three minutes), and ask my dad questions. About things I didn’t understand. Life, death, the general workings of the world, steam engines... You name it.

On this particular day, I initiated a conversation by asking what kind of poison was used in bullets.

Dad: Poison?

Little-SharQ: Yes. Bullets kill people, I argued, having automatically assumed that this means they contain poison, because merely bleeding doesn’t kill you.

Dad: Ah. No, bullets don’t contain poison. Remember when you cut yourself on the playrack outside the house?

Little-SharQ nods

Dad: When you did that, you got hurt, and you had to go to the hospital. Bullets are kind of like those racks, except they fly very much faster than a swing. And they will go right through you. You bleed a lot, and you can die.

Little-SharQ is not convinced, but decides to ask why mommie doesn’t let him have a toy gun.

This story illustrates that children (even SharQs) don’t understand why handguns are dangerous and bad. Most children eventually understand that they are dangerous (people get killed on TV by the hundreds, both in movies and in “real” TV), but not that they are bad. Why? Because the good guy never dies. And children are prone to identify with the good guy, subconciously making them invincible as well.

Playing with guns is very much like playing with knives. You don’t give a child a plastic toy-knife so s/he can stab their friends with it, do you? Exactly the same argument applies to firearms, but even stronger: Whereas a knife has many uses, a gun only has one: that is harming people (note that I am leaving the entire discussion about self defense out of this, because it is completely irrelevant). You can’t cut bread with a gun, and all that.

Another argument is that some toy guns look too real - in societies where guns are readily available, a person holding a toy gun might easily get shot "in self defence", either by a lunatic, gun-toting, paranoid maniac neighbor, or by the police.

It is sad that, in some countries, guns are so readily available that there is an actual chance that a child might come across one. It is even worse that guns might be laying around loaded where children can find them, but that is a different discussion altogether. In these countries, the old “DTTA” rule (Don’t touch, tell an adult) should be drilled into the children pretty much from birth. Failing this, the old gun rule “don’t aim at something you don’t want to kill” should be a bare minimum. Children and guns go about as well together as children and drugs and several other sombre combinations.

In most European countries, where firearms are rare, and handguns are rarer, you would think there would be less of a problem with letting children play with toy guns. In my opinion, however, this is not so. It rather introduces the discussion of respect for human life.

I can see where Karfung comes from with his argument that children should be allowed to play with toy guns - but there are many things children shouldn’t do. Children, for example, shouldn’t have sex, but you don’t give little girls a dildo so they can get used to how penises are used.

Some things are not toys. Guns are among these things.

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