To ban or not to ban toy guns – that is the question!

Should I ban toy guns in my home?FOLLOWING our discussion on ABC radio 612 Brisbane last week, (in case you missed it you can hear the podcast here) I’ve been giving some thought to Naomi from Seven Cherubs‘ position of banning certain things that you don’t want in your home. (She has banned toy guns).

Her reasons really resonated with me: “I don’t want things that bring additional violence into our home” and “I pictured my son pointing a toy gun at me and saying, ‘bang, you’re dead Mum’ and I didn’t want that in my day”.

I thought, ‘That sounds really sensible, and perhaps I should re-think my own position’, which was far more tolerant of toy guns. We have lots of Nerf guns in our house (and lots of those foam Nerf ‘bullets’ lying around in the yard, getting chopped up by the lawn mower.

But I’ve come to the conclusion that this is the right position for my family. And here’s the thing – parenting is such a personal journey. We all look at each other and try to figure out if they’re doing it better than us, if we’re doing it wrong, or if we’ve got it right. It’s hard! And it should be.

Naomi has chosen what is best for her family and it works for them. I’ve chosen what is right for my family, and it works for us. Yay!

Guns and gun ownership

Back to the gun issue. A relative of my husband’s heard me on the radio last week and rang my father-in-law to tell him he’d been mentioned on radio and that his daughter-in-law (previously known for her strong anti-gun stance) was advocating guns!

Let me be clear – I do not advocate unrestricted gun ownership. I believe very strongly that gun ownership should be limited to rural landowners who have legitimate reasons to own guns, or to sporting shooters who choose to pursue pistol shooting or game hunting as a hobby. For those two pursuits, pistols and hunting rifles are all that is required. Nobody has any need to own a semi-automatic or a fully automatic weapon. Nobody. End of anti-gun rant.

Ban toy guns?

Back to toy guns. The point I was trying to make on radio yesterday, is through my own exposure to responsible gun ownership my fear of guns has diminished. Guns have been de-mystified a little for me and they are no longer the terrifying unknown quantity that I equate with the Port Arthur massacre. Or the horrific gun massacres of the US.

Also, I have seen no evidence that links children’s games with toy guns to a tendency toward gun loving behaviour as an adult. I have seen no statistics that link early exposure to real guns and a shooting culture, with anti-social anti-empathetic behaviour as an adult.

So when I examined my fears and tried to articulate what I wanted to achieve by banning toy guns in my home, I was unable to do so in a way that made me sound like an intelligent, rational adult. I think we need to challenge our beliefs, test the logic and make sure we know what we’re trying to achieve, and then think about our actions and if they will truly help us get there.

It’s easy to not think. It’s easy to accept what other parents are doing – say, banning toy guns – and say, well that’s what I’ll do, too.

If you want to ban toy guns, you are perfectly entitled to do so. Just make sure you know what you want to achieve by banning them and then ask yourself will this action help me achieve my goal. For Naomi, her reasons were very simple and much more immediate than my long-range reasons about my children’s attitudes toward gun ownership when they grew up. She very clearly had a vision for daily life in her home and the introduction of toy guns was going to obstruct that goal, or impede that goal’s success. I applaud her clear thinking.

1 comment for “To ban or not to ban toy guns – that is the question!

  1. Margaret Hambly
    June 30, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    I don’t believe in people using guns in real life but I also don’t think that we should ban toy guns for children. For many many years little boy (and girls) have played cowboy and Indians, war games etc and how many of them have grown up to be gun totting rednecks or killers. It would be a small percentage I believe. I think as a parent its our responsibility to help our children to understand that there are ‘rules’ when playing with the toy guns and help establish the difference between imagination and reality as they grow older. With such good influence childs play will remain exactly that.

I would love it if you would tap out a few words here!