Sunday, February 05, 2012

Guns versus Toys

During my childhood, my mother did not permit gun toys.

She was not anti-gun, however. When I was a teenager, I was given a shotgun as a gift and she did not object. A real gun, when I was older and could be shown how to handle it safely, was fine; guns as toys were not.

The message was, guns are not toys. When we use them, it is not for play. My uncles owned guns and did some sport hunting, but they took their guns seriously and handled them safely. Their behavior reinforced my mother's message. Naturally I found ways to pantomime guns using sticks or even my fingers, but there my mother retreated. The point had been made, all the same.

As an adult I have never desired to own a gun, and given my history of recurring depression, I would not keep one around anyway. Not a good idea for me.

As a parent, I've expanded on her rule a bit: guns are not toys, and military service is not a game. I don't want my sons wearing military-themed onesies, chamo pants, and other kinds of realistic battle gear. I keep an eye out for toys mimicking modern military hardware. Video games aren't part of our life yet, but when the day comes I'll watch for that as well.

When it is time for these conversations, the message will not be that the military is something "bad." What needs to come across is that military service is deadly serious. My grandfather and my father served in wars, and there is a Persian Gulf War vet in our family. My sons may choose to wear those uniforms when they grow up, and that will be their choice to make. By that time, we will have had many conversations about violence, war, the use of force by governments, and our country's history. I wish for them to make their decisions on that basis, rather than being conditioned from early childhood to think of warfare as "cool."

[Photo: A display at a Buddhist-owned Chinese restaurant in Silver City, New Mexico]


Petteri Sulonen said...

Sometimes I think the best thing about compulsory military service is that it very effectively takes the romance out of guns. I certainly had enough of them during my eleven months. America's love affair with them strikes me as juvenile.

And no, I have nothing in principle against hunting or even shooting as sport. In fact, I think we're kind of morally obligated to hunt, since we've exterminated all other summit predators. Otherwise the ecology will get thrown even more out of whack.

Of course, I'd rather see the other summit predators come back in serious numbers. Perhaps once the countryside empties of people a bit more.

Kelly said...

A gun is a tool and has more purposes than just for sport or the military. My kids were raised around guns and were taught gun safety from an early age. They had their share of toy guns, but mostly the water variety since we had a swimming pool. As adults, only one has the desire to own a gun.

I don't consider camo clothing an exclusively military item. My husband and I both hunt and have more than our share of the stuff (although he did use his Vietnam-era Marine Corps fatigues for hunting until they wore out!).

Still, to each his own... and I try never criticize another parent for doing what they think is best. I just hope for the same courtesy in return.

quid said...

Not sure that these photos are the best possible idea. Sigh.


Pigasus said...


What a sigh of relief; My father was a career marine and I have more camo then any other Zen buddhist I know. It just appears- it's in my bones. Not to mention a working knowledge of how carbines work, how to make 30 round magazines more efficient, etc...

My father didn't present the military or guns as less than deadly serious, but there wasn't any balancing either-military life, guns, and dead seriousness seemed very normal, and even as a brat, I found it hard to see myself as anything else but grunt material, or at best an infantry officer.

I'm 29; I haven't joined, yet. It's amazing how attracting it still is.