Oh, shoot.

Okay, people, help me out with this one.  Two things to know about me:

1.  I don’t like guns. 
2. I have boys. 

Vincenzo started shooting things around age three, despite him never having seen or heard of a gun anywhere I know of, and there were very few minutes during his first three years I didn’t know where he was or what he was doing.  I’m pretty sure guns were invented by the first three-year-old boy ever to set foot on planet Earth. 

For awhile there we were able to pretend he was shooting us with whipped cream or confetti or bubbles.  We didn’t want to make shooting completely taboo because we know how shiny and tempting things that are taboo can be.  So he’d shoot us and we’d thank him for the whipped cream and ask if he could shoot us with chocolate syrup and maybe a maraschino cherry next.

Then one day Vincenzo shot me and as I pretended to ski down the whipped cream mountain he had just shot out, he looked me straight on and said, “No, Mom.  That wasn’t whipped cream.  It was a bullet.”

We still tried, and we still felt kind of okay because at least we didn’t use the word “gun” in our house.  “Shooters” are much more cute and cuddly, don’t you agree?  Vincenzo would go so far as to correct me if, for example, I pointed out some workers using a staple gun.  “No, Mom, we call them ‘staple shooters.’”

But eventually the lipstick wore off that chicken, too, and now they are simply guns and they shoot bullets and apparently all  of Vincenzo’s friends have them.  Nerf guns, squirt guns, GIJoe guns, laser guns, cowboy guns, teeny tiny Playmobile guns.

And Vincenzo has started asking.

So far my best strategy is to pretend that he asked for “gum” instead and offer him a piece of Trident.

I’m just not ready yet, and I might not ever be.  But it feels kind of hypocritical to provide Vincenzo with light sabers, swords, boxing gloves, maces and battle axes, but not allow guns—especially when the drills from his tool set stand in for guns as needed, and when those aren’t around there’s always his finger-and-thumb gun.

For his part, Vincenzo is not nearly as into shooting things as a lot of his friends are.  I know he would follow any rules we set and he wouldn’t get carried away with it.  He likes a good fight, but he’s not your typical shoot’-‘em-up-bang-bang little boy.  The last epic battle he had with Kevin involved drawing pictures of bananas and coconuts (two things Kevin hates) and taping them all over the house.  If we did buy Vincenzo a toy gun we would use the opportunity to talk about gun safety in general (as if we can’t talk about gun safety otherwise) and we would have clear house rules about how to use them.

But still!  Guns!  I don’t like them.  They kill.

So let’s say I hold off until Vincenzo’s a little older and can understand about how guns have this dark side and might not be all grins and giggles.  Let’s say Vincenzo is eight years old or so.  He still really wants a gun and by now seriously all of his friends have them, even the Quaker ones, and so let’s say we get him one.  And he is happy.

And then we realize that his younger brother, Rocco, will be playing with toy guns at age four. 

Which makes it feel pointless to hold off at all, and like we could have saved ourselves a bunch of whining and grief if we had gotten Vincenzo a toy gun earlier.

So tell me.  What would you do?  Guns now, later, or never?

Mole-marinated steak
Baked potatoes
Garlicky asparagus

6 thoughts on “Oh, shoot.

  1. I think pretend guns are sufficient, maybe giving in to a squirt gun or two. And did I tell you that when I was reading the Richard Scarry book to the boys yesterday Vincenzo pointed out that the “army page” was his favorite because it had a lot of weapons. What’s a mom/grandma to do?

  2. I say, if they make you uncomfortable just don’t buy them. I don’t…and won’t even if Sugar really really really wanted one. There are girl toys I don’t buy either. Bratz (whore) dolls. I just tell Sugar that those types of toys are something our family buys.
    Then, he can go on shoot with his finger…..or drills….as long as he isn’t pointing them at people. “We shoot things….not people” is a rule in my house. Light sabers are pretend….guns are real…that is a big difference. as for swords…well it isn’t likely he will really use a sword in a fight in this lifetime, and if he does….well then you were smart to get him a pretend one because he might win. 🙂

    okay…so that is rambly….but that’s what I do best. 🙂

  3. Ok…I may not be the best person to post on this subject for you but here it goes…cause you did ask…well, maybe not me specifically 🙂 You know I have 4 boys. I have always bought toy guns. My boys have BB guns. I have taught them all about gun safety. My position on this has always been that if I teach them about them then if someday they are at a friend’s house and happen to come upon one they will know exactly what to do. I grew up around guns so I have never had a problem with them.
    I’m not saying that you need to supply him with every gun available but I think squirt guns and nerf guns are a staple in almost every boy household. But then again….once you get him those he will want to shoot them at people especially the squirt gun….
    I don’t think I really helped much in this discussion but there it is 🙂

  4. There is a huge dichotomy in my house as I grew up without guns, and like you, am far from comfortable with anything having to do with them, especially play. Zach on the other hand grew up with guns and had a BB gun. He remembers shooting tin can and such, and I remember being given a spray bottle instead of a squirt gun. I didn’t get my first real super soaker squirt gun until middle school and I had to keep it in the garage. I am with Corey – there is a whole lot of toys and things I don’t buy just because it might be okay for other families and people, but not for us – Sponge Bob Square pants and Bratz are two of them. And Allie knows and tell me we aren’t allowed to because they are not nice toys. On the other hand, I am with Terrie on the gun safety part. I think that there are a lot of people in the world that have them, and chances are they will stumble upon one at one time or another. Zach would love to set up a test with a BB gun lying around to make sure Allie would come and tell us, but I told him NOT IN MY HOUSE! I understand his reasoning though. If you continue from there though – NOTHING resembling a weapon was ever allowed in my home (and yes I have a brother) and at Allie’s school NOTHING resembling a weapon is allowed – even on the playground. The school preaches peace. They simply say to the children you may be allowed to pretend like that other places but a school we want a peaceful environment and weapons are not objects of peace. Most of them get it. Some of the boys try every once and awhile. I suspect they are the ones that are allowed guns and shooting at home, but I am not sure of that. I know we were never allowed and all 5 of us kids still maintain the belief that guns are not something we want or need.

  5. Mister Rogers has awesome things to say about this, but I’m afraid I might misquote him, so google that.

    I will say though, that I agree WHOLEHEARTEDLY with your stance on guns. I hates ’em. Harrison likes them. He plays with them at other people’s houses. I bought him a buzz lightyear “Laser” for Christmas. That’s the extent I’m willing to go.

    If he’s going to “make” a gun, let him. It’s creative play, and it gives him power he probably seeks. But you really don’t have to buy anything that makes you feel icky.

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