guns are NOT toys

Here’s another tragic reason to keep guns locked away from young kids. A three year old girl in Detroit found a parent’s gun in a bedroom and shot herself in the head. She is in critical condition. Sadly, this isn’t just an isolated event. It is becoming more and more common. Nor is it a new phenomenon. When I was 16, I worked as a nanny for a family who had a handgun kept in a dresser drawer. The 6 year old boy found it. Luckily nothing happened that day.

With all the glorified violence in the media today, it is little wonder kids play with guns not realizing the difference between staged gun play when no one gets hurt and real guns with real bullets. While we do have guns (including hand gun) in our home, they are locked away out of the reach of the kids. Simply putting it in a drawer or on a high shelf is not good enough. Kids have a way to find even the best hiding places.

Guns are NOT TOYS. Children (especially young children) do not yet have the ability to truly distinguish reality from their play, nor understand the deadly real-life consequences of guns. If you give them a toy gun, they may later find a real gun and do like this girl did. Here’s a good article about toys and play.

We do not allow our kids to have toy guns or play guns with sticks or other toys. This includes playing army, cops/robbers, etc. Guns are tools and dangerous, deadly weapons. Under no circumstance should guns (real or pretend) be allowed to be used as toys. If friends want to come over and play, we make sure they understand our rule. I also kindly request when they play at other kids’ homes that they not be allowed to play guns. Other parents have always been understanding in honoring this request. Its also a great way to witness to them Christian non-violence and non-resistance.

We use guns to hunt and for protection outside from bears, moose and other animals. We take the time to teach our kids gun safety and model that behavior. We do not allow violent TV or movies. If some violence occurs in a program, we discuss it with them to help them understand what and why it occurred. Now that our son is 6, he is starting to choose some of what he watches. He doesn’t like to watch violent shows. If you ban violent shows from the start when the kids are in the room, they will be less likely to want to watch them on their own. If you wait until they start choosing their own shows, they are already accustomed to watching violence and are more likely to want to choose violent shows. They will not understand why you won’t let them choose those shows when you’ve watched them together before.

I’m not saying media is the primary cause of kids’ violence today, but is a big factor. They are constantly deluged through tv and movies with glorified violence. The hero shoots his way free. Sure, there has always been violence in media, it just now seems more violent and realistic and targeted toward younger audiences. Kids are becoming desensitized toward the reality of violence.

One more thing that bothers me is tv in the kids’ room, especially younger kids. There is no real reason for this. It is much harder to monitor what they are watching if you aren’t in the room. This includes video games. They have become much more realistic compared to the Atari I grew up with or even systems just a few years ago. This makes it harder to draw the line between violent fiction and reality to kids’ young minds.

I encourage you to monitor what your kids are watching and not just give them free control of the remote and a movie pass. Don’t be afraid to say NO or to turn the tv off. They’ll get over it if you’re consistent. Combine this with gun safety, and we will be better able to keep our kids safe at home.

Our basic gun safety rules:

1. Guns are not toys.

2. Always assume the gun is loaded, even if you just unloaded it.

3. Never point a gun at a person.

4. Never use a gun without direct adult supervison. This means the adult must be with you, not just watching from across the field.

5. Immediately follow directions from an adult.

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