Childrearing

What Present Isn’t Permitted Under Our Christmas Tree? Toy Guns

By  | 

By the time this holiday season in over, my daughter will have opened almost every type of gift imaginable. She’ll get superhero action figures and Barbie dolls. She’ll find a train track and a robotic dragon. She’ll get dresses and new shoes and probably even a pretty hair bow or two. Honestly, between myself, my mother and my mother-in-law, I can admit that we might be able to open our own toy store when things are all said and done. But there’s one toy that won’t make it anywhere near my Christmas tree. I will never buy or permit anyone else to buy my daughter a toy gun.

It’s not that I’m completely against violent play. My daughter has 5 male cousins and she’s pretty comfortable with a sword and shield. She’s a little obsessed with superheros, who frequently beat up bad guys and throw them in jail. Recently, my wonderful father introduced my girl to Power Rangers (Thanks for that, Poppa) and I’m already positive that we’ll be suffering through those fake fight sequences for a while to come. I can deal with the fact that my daughter’s dinosaurs have battle armor and missile launchers. All of these things are make-believe and we take time to discuss the difference to between play-fighting and real violence.

So why do I ban guns when a toy sword permitted? Because in 2007, 138 children died from unintentional shootings with a real gun. In 2008, 3997 kids had to go to the hospital to be treated for gunshot wounds from unintentional shootings. And to make sure that my daughter doesn’t end up a horrible statistic, I’ve taught her a very simple lesson, “Guns are not toys.”

My daughter is almost four years old and if she happens to see a commercial for a Nerf gun, as unrealistic as those things look, she’ll say, “Those aren’t toys Momma. They aren’t for kids.” In fact, I’m not ashamed to admit that we have a little script we run through every once in a while about gun safety.

“Should you ever play with a gun?” I’ll ask my daughter, especially after she’s seen toys on TV or we’ve visited a house where toy guns are permitted.

“No, never,” my little girl will reply.

“Guns are…” I’ll prompt.

“…dangerous.”

“Are guns toys?” Whether they shoot BBs or foam darts.

“No, guns hurt people.”

If it sounds like my toddler is brain-washed, she might be. And I’m completely okay with that. I have no problem shoving information down her throat if it keeps her safe.

My daughter would never have access to a real gun in our home, so some people might be confused about my semi-obsessive fear of her playing with a real gun by accident. By my house isn’t the only place where my daughter plays. I live in an extremely conservative state where gun ownership is relatively high. And according to the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, half of all gun-owning homes don’t lock up their firearms.

138 children may be an extremely small percentage of American kids, but those are 138 preventable deaths. Those are 138 sets of parents who will never get their babies back. And those are 138 guns that children thought were toys. They didn’t realize the danger behind those weapons that we replicate in molded plastic and sell as entertainment.

My daughter will get plenty of toys this year. She’ll find presents of every shape and size. But she will not get a toy gun. My little girl wouldn’t play with it even if she did.