Toy Guns and Hypocrisy

I’m a pretty laid-back mom, so my reaction to the following was a little out of character

Can’t quite see the problem?

The cute pink dolphin turns into a robot soldier with a toy gun

For the record, I was just minding my own business at 7-11, buying a soda and some seriously overpriced Ben & Jerry’s when I walked past it.  Then I started looking at the other toys on display there.

It’s a dino with a surface to air missile launcher on its back…and it also turns into a robot soldier thing

It’s a car that turns into……..a robot with a gun, how’d you guess?

I have to say that my shock at seeing such toys is INCREDIBLY hypocritical, given one my most prized possessions when I was six was a pair of toy pistols.  I was a cowgirl that Halloween (if I had my photo albums here and a working scanner, neither of which is true at the moment, I would insert a picture of me, dressed in a cowgirl outfit my aunt had sewn for me, sporting the boots and the hat to go with it, and spinning my six shooters.)  I had a water gun, which I put to both good and nefarious use.  Growing up practically on Fort Devens (an American Army base in Massachusetts, now no longer a base) I also saw more than my fair share of M-16 rifles.  We didn’t have a gun in the house, but guns weren’t really seen as a big deal at my home.

Or, I think, in many of my contemporaries homes, given the aisle dedicated to toy guns at Toys R Us in the 80’s.

But at some point in the last 20 or so years, there was a shift.  I can’t really say when as I wasn’t doing a lot of Toys R Us browsing after 1990 or so (except for the random Super Nintendo game), but I do know that today suggesting that it’s okay for a child to play with a toy gun is akin to suggesting that same child play with a real loaded gun with the safety off.

On a very academic and impersonal level, I think it’s an overreaction. I think children play at good/bad guys and that they will make a gun out of anything…I didn’t turn into a gun owning NRA nut-job or a pyscho killer and I was exposed to guns.  So were most people I knew growing up.  I have been incredibly irritated when parents have nixed PG movies in my classes (after exams) because they were too violent….especially considering that we grew up watching Looney Toons which has TONS of violence.  Is it just the norm of doing the opposite of our parents?

On a personal level, a little boy at an indoor mall playground pointed his finger at Ella and shouted “Bang!” and I was definitely not okay with it…but then sat there after giving him the stink eye and wondered at my hypocrisy when it was MY kid that was involved.

Regardless, I have a hard time seeing the kind of toys with guns that are popular here going over okay in the US.

But I’m still amused that I was kind of horrified….what a hypocrite.

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2 Responses to Toy Guns and Hypocrisy

  1. Ange says:

    1) I wasn’t exposed to real guns and had play guns – not many since I was a girl and had no brothers, but water guns were fine. I can’t remember actually playing cops and robbers or anything, but I *do* miss Looney Tunes. I love those cartoons!!

    2.) I think maybe the reason you were upset at the boy who said “bang” to Ella was the implication that he wished her harm. That’s a very different scenario than play shooting *with* her. I’d be mad too – he doesn’t know her, so it’s like he’s shooting her, not a character she’s willingly taken on. I find that creepy too.

    3.) I don’t like the idea of toys that turn into guns. Guns should be guns, even if they’re pink and cutesy and obviously fake – I think I prefer obviously fake guns, as they’re clearly meant for play and not killing. The concept that guns can be disguised as something adorable or unrelated (a dolphin? really??) makes the whole thing seem less serious. While I think that playing at shooting is okay between “consenting kids” (i.e. they’re playing pretend together), they should be aware that real guns can hurt and kill people and are serious.

  2. Aimee says:

    I think squirt guns in neon colors are one thing, and toys that replicate real guns are another. Guns are NOT toys, and anything that blends the line too much makes me uncomfortable. And as Ange said, role-playing WITH your friends is completely different than pointing a “gun” at a stranger and saying “bang!” That implies a different thought process entirely.

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