The Toy Gun
Toy guns are more common with boys than girls. This is not a debated issue, what is, is if they reinforce the aggressive nature of males, or if they allow the child a device in the development of rational thinking associated with the images produced by Hollywood and real life.
Personally, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that boys are more likely to play with a toy gun as well as being the protagonist in a school shooting. While manufacturers show little concern to the fact their products are modeled after the real life counter-parts, the needed education about guns --the logical answer-- is also mostly ignored. These toys are usually modeled after actual weapons that are used to kill namely other humans, and are being used in make believe games that represent this scenario. Boys will be boys and play with their toys, but they need to understand their actions for what they are and not something we find in Hollywood. Without structure nothing can stand, our society must come to a realization of this simple but fundamental idea once again, if they have forgotten it.
The aggressive nature of males seems to make them more likely to role play incorporating the concept that guns kill. It raises a question; in today’s society what has the most impact on a young boy, nature or nurture? Boys pretend to be the hero while girls pretend to be the damsel, boys play with guns and girls don’t. They have dolls. This is the nature of things though, it’s a stereo-type but it doesn't always hold true. Not all girls will play with dolls, and not all boys will play with guns. It’s just the majority of them do, and this provides a strong link for our society to stereo-type. This also doesn't make all boys are more aggressive by nature, but a gun will give any person the feeling of empowerment, making that gun wielding person more inclined to act in a hostile fashion. Also, I believe a toy gun during a role-playing event can strengthen those thoughts about using it as a weapon on other people. Given the right situation every young boy has the chance of becoming a murder if he hasn’t been taught properly about gun safety; this is just likely in girls as well. Like many people, I know it’s not feasible to rid our society of these toys and weapons, but if a kid is to play with these toys they need to know how dangerous they are;
“When researchers studied the 30,000 accidental gun deaths of Americans of all ages that occurred between 1979-1997, they found that preschoolers aged 0-4 were 17 times more likely to die from a gun accident in the 4 states with the most guns versus the 4 states with the least guns. Likewise, school kids aged 5-14 were over 13 times more at risk of accidental firearm death in the states with high gun ownership rates.”
(Boyse, Kyla. University of Michigan. 22, Feb. 2008. www.med.umich.edu/1libr/yourchild/guns.htm.)
Then there are those who disagree like Jonathan Turley in the article, "My Boys Like Shootouts. What’s Wrong With That?" Where his kids will find any object to pseudo-sword fight with and by taking their toys away it makes the game taboo, making them want to play the game more, going as far as using celery sticks. Jonathan says, “There seems to be something hard-wired in to the XY Chromosome that leads a boy to glance at a small moss-cover branch and immediately see an air-cooled, camouflaged, fully automatic 50-caliber Browning rifle with attachable bayonet.” WIth Jonathan's thinking we are lead to believe the XY chromosome has passed down a primal need to hunt from our evolutionary hunting and gathering ancestors. Nurtured or not, nature will make all boys attracted to killing and guns, but I for one don’t see that as true. I see every person as a blank slate that will learn and take from their environment.
But still, could allowing playtime with these toys that look more authentic than what I have seen on TV, give the kids a clear example that guns fire lead slugs at thousands of feet per second and can cause untold amounts of carnage? If it doesn’t then take them hunting, it’s a prime example that I’m sure any kid could understand. Talking with them also can work, but I don’t think that giving them a toy resembling a gun will help teach them anything. What can be learned from it? Nothing other than pull the trigger and then make a bang sound. They need to learn how to handle a gun and understand not all of them are toys. I think that children need to understand the nature of the gun as a weapon even if there is a gun in the house or not. They’re common enough that it’s likely someone close will have one, and we should make our kids aware by setting rules simular to looking both ways before crossing the street. It’s important because kids don’t think twice, and will sometimes emulate the cool things coming from Hollywood, so it’ll be important to teach our children right from wrong and fact from fiction in these up coming years. The better our children are informed, the less likely they will act irresponsible and hurt somebody else, be it their brother, sister, or friend.
Cars can be just as deadly, and the scale models sold in hobby shops won’t be taken off the selves anytime soon. It would be just as silly to ban toy guns because of the accidents due to lack of knowledge on the part of a few individuals. We can’t protect everyone and mistakes will still happen even if we try. It isn’t logical to remove guns to protect our society. We must teach our society about guns for their protection. These toy guns can serve the purpose of an educational tool about the destructive nature of an actual gun. Every one must understand that there are consequences behind every action, even those as small as a squeeze of the trigger.
Boyse, Kyla. University of Michigan. 22, Feb. 2008. www.med.umich.edu/1libr/yourchild/guns.htm.
Turley, Jonathan. “My Boys like Shootouts. What’s Wrong with That?” The Washington Post 25, Feb. 2007: final ed.: outlook; B01. Lexis Nexis. Colorado Mountain College Spring Valley library 22, Feb. 2008. http://www.coloradomtn. edu/library.