Wednesday, February 13, 2013

It's a 'G' Thing

The New York Times had a piece a few days ago about parents banning toy weapons — including Nerf guns — from their homes.

The Nerf "Retaliator"

From the story:
Heather Whaley, the mother of a 10-year-old boy and an 8-year-old girl, who lives about 10 miles from Newtown, Conn., said the killings there in December have reinforced a deep concern about the accessibility of real weapons in society and in people’s homes. 
As for the pretend ones, Ms. Whaley said she would not even allow water guns in the house when her children were younger. “It’s dangerous to separate guns from what they actually do, which is kill things,” she said, adding: “If a child has grown up comfortable around guns, and has experienced picking up a gun and shooting it, then they will have that muscle memory. And it will be easier for them to shoot a real gun, if they find one.” 
That argument has been echoed by a handful of anti-toy-gun activists, including the Alliance for Survival, a grass-roots group in California, which started a program this year to give merit awards to children who pledge not to have toy guns. Others have encouraged “toy gun exchanges,” where other playthings like Hula Hoops are given to children who turn in a toy gun. 
Jerry Rubin, a peace activist and coordinator of the Alliance for Survival, said their message was that toy guns promote violence. “No one is saying that if you play with a toy gun, you’re going to grow up to be a violent killer,” Mr. Rubin said. “But the game is still the same: pretend to kill your friends, pretend to kill your classmates.”
Not surprisingly, I feel like I encountered this sentiment more often when we lived in Berkeley. I knew people who refused to even say "gun" around kids, opting instead for "the G word."

I remember one evening when I was riding BART near a mother and her son, who had just gotten a new action figure. The toy came with a little gun, and the boy wasn't allowed to play with it separately. However, the action figure was allowed to hold the weapon.

I guess no one wants their son to turn this kid from the Hammacher Schlemmer catalog.

We've never been big on toy weaponry, but gunplay seems inevitable among kids — especially boys. Like many children, Elliot has bitten his sandwich into the form of a gun and pretended to shoot it. (I suppose this is a gateway to carving guns out of prison soap.)

I did bring home a Nerf foam-ball shooter once, and it was very enthusiastically received. I soon regretted it. Even with soft Nerf balls, it's no fun to have them aimed at your head.

But as with most of the kids' toys with multiple pieces, the ammunition was quickly misplaced in the clutter of our home.

As Chris Rock says, "You don't need no gun control...we need some bullet control."

In our house, losing the bullets seems to have solved our gun problem.