When Your Little Baby Wants a Gun

How do you say no - or should you?
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When Your Little Baby Wants a Gun

How do you say no – or should you?

-Carrie Vining Spanier

little boy holding a toy gun

Let me tell you about my son (*sigh*), my sweet, darling four-year-old son. For as long as I can remember he’s been obsessed with cars, trucks and trains and only really watched television shows like Ni Hao Kai-lan, Yo Gabba Gabba, and of course Sesame Street.

Errr, well, that was until these past few months, when the slow transition began. What transition, you may ask? The apparent transition from toddler-hood into ‘boyhood.’ Yes, my sweet little guy is becoming a boy with new interests, including anything boyish from Transformers to Batman. And with these new interests, has come one that I wasn’t ready for.

Guns. Yep, guns. Obviously of the toy variety, but guns nonetheless. I wasn’t prepared for a recent trip to the toy store, where my little angel was begging and pleading for me to buy him the “coolest” (his word) and to me, the most realistic looking toy gun! Can’t this kid be obsessed with baseball?? At this point I would run out and buy season tickets to the Yankees if it would stop this gun train from rollin’! Well, as with anything else, I made this my obsession: How to keep my little boy interested in Thomas and a large host of other non-violent yet commercially available playthings.

Read Help! I’ve Got Mommy Brain!

Well, as you would expect, I didn’t buy him the gun. I hemmed and hawed about it; I consulted my team of mommy friends, old and new; and I even talked to an expert. I learned that I am not off base with my concerns, but that I need to relax about it a little, too. Sheryl Stern, MS, told me, “For a kid, toys like guns are part of pretend and dramatic play without the deeper meaning that we adults assign to them. Conversely, toys that symbolize violence or that are inappropriate or dangerous need to be restricted.” I never thought of it that way. My four-year-old doesn’t know that guns kill. In fact he doesn’t know what the word “kill” means. She also adds, “You can use this opportunity to have a conversation with your child to better understand his needs and sort through your own thinking. So, there is a teachable moment here…for parents and kids.”

Ah ha! A teachable moment. Now there’s a concept I can relate to. Having a master’s degree in education, I am always looking for teachable moments with my kids. But this one was different, and difficult. Because the real meaning of guns, or at least the one that adults do in fact assign to them, is certainly tied to violence, it is not really something I want to teach him about just now. While I am well aware of the dangers of guns and safety issues that go along with them, I do not own a gun, nor would my children ever be anywhere where there is a gun, so holding off on the “danger” and scary aspect of it is ok for me—at least for now. There’s still a lot of innocence in my baby, and I will fight to hold onto it!

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24 thoughts on “When Your Little Baby Wants a Gun

  1. Not only yes what I let my kids play with toy guns but I would play with them. all my kids, 5 and older have shot real guns. Part of helping them understand the dangers of them. pretending they are not around or that you can keep them from them only will encourage more curiosity and interest as he gets older.

    No matter what you think you can not ensure that your sones or daughters will not be around guns or in homes that have them. Statistics range anywhere from 62 to 74% of US homes have guns and that many people who do will not admit it to even the closest friends.

    Children who accidentally get shot playing with guns found in a neighbors homes are nearly always ones who think guns are toys, don’t understand the dangers, or have not been properly educated to leave them alone.

    SInce i am from a shooting family I know without question my kids would be exposed to guns, having them shoot at a very young age helps them to see the and feel the power and danger. It helps end the curiosity and develops a healthy respect for the seriousness of them.

    Our guns are all kept with trigger locks but that’s not to say that other peoples are kept as safely as mine are.

    Many people’s irrational fears of guns is in part created by the media in the same sense that nuclear energy fears still dictate our lack of using that clean energy more in the US.

    To make my point few people have a fear and loathing for cars generally that they do for guns, yet while many 10s of thousands are killed by cars every year we do not fear them they way I can tell you fear guns. because you have been exposed to media that glorifies cars in both entertainment and news. They same could be said of cigarettes, alcohol, or mountain biking. ALl of which kill far more people every year than guns.

    Even counting crime based killings using guns it is still a low number compared to any other form of death or injury in the US but we are brought up to be terrified and this causes more harm than good.
    I’m not suggesting you should by a toy gun for your son, that’s your right to be afraid and to raise him that way too. But know no matter how much people tell you otherwise most guys at some point in their lives are around guns, many lie about it to women by the way, if you raise your son with fears of an object it does not empower him to have dominion over that object. Instead you have given power and fear to the object and it’s holder, you create rule breaking curiosity that could harm your child in the future, and you add your fears into his life even as your trying to protect him from it.

    Teach the dangers of guns, just as you should be teaching the dangers of running into the street in front of cars. He does not have to fear cars to know to stay clear of them, or to be safe around them. You can teach your son your views about guns without trying to hide them or create unrealistic fears about them in him.

    And may I suggest a squirt gun instead? Get one for yourself and enjoy a nice water fight with you son and relax a little.

  2. are u serious its a toy gun i can tell the writer is an old fuddy duddy as im 28 and all kids have toy guns mine has a few water nurf light and swords how can you take away there innocents play time to not let him have it are u really telling us its going to make it better to its an energy blaster come on get a life do u want your little mammas boy to be the only one without one to be called names and teased because your to uptight to let him have a toy and your son sounds slow coming around or you kept him in a cave mine has always loved superheros spiderman transformers dinosaurs he watched the dora and stuff but he also watched the action packed cartoons like teenage mutant ninja turtles mines still sweet and hugs and kisses me in fromt of his friends but if you keep your under your skirt hell never grow a pair and be able to stand up for himself

  3. When I was little, my sibling and I used BB guns all the time. Now that I’m a parent, I feel more conflicted. I think the important thing is to teach them responsibility, even with a toy gun.

  4. A gun is a gun A tool I believe one should teach a child what guns do. There is enough in the news on TV about the war. People dieing over there.If a child has a toy gun teach responsibility of that Toy. #1 do not point it at some one the person you point it at could be hurt. I know and understand how you feel yes, but how is the child going to learn they are dangerous? If your child goes near a hot oven door do you tell the child it’s dangerous that he.she could be burnt? or let them touch it and find out for them selves. Do you tell them jumping from roof tops can seriously injure them? Then why not teach a child that guns are dangerous? I regularly carry a gun in my purse, I have no young children at my house. I am licensed to carry this and obey all laws governing such responsibility. My final word is this do what you feel is best, if you do however buy him a toy gun, teach responsibility of that gun.

  5. My boys wanted guns too and I let them have the cowboy style ones, but they usually very quickly started hitting each other over the head with them…and so I took them away! Luckily they have grown out of the gun-desire stage!

  6. Uh, this whole subject akes me mad! My daughter buys him “water” guns and I’m always telling him, he’s 3, NO GUNS! So who’s going to win out, me or HIS mommy! Grandma mad!!!

  7. The story sounds just like mine but my dad and mom decided to go ahead and get my son a toy gun and holster for his birthday. Ever since then he has been crazy over cowboys and guns and shooting and all the boy things like that. I tell him he can continue to play with them as long as he doesn’t point then at anyone and if he seems to get too violent they go away!

  8. My 5yo is transitioning from Playhouse Disney to Transformers and Batman. He has asked for guns, but so far they’ve only been of the water variety. My husband and I have said no, although his aunt bought him one.

  9. I didn’t ban toy guns from the house, but I tried to encourage other toys. However, my son is now almost 14 and owns a hunting rifle – my husband and I are not into hunting, but my dad is and he is teaching my son all the safety rules, etc. He is not allowed to handle the gun at all unless he is with his Pap.

  10. Ha! My thirteen year old grew up with no guns, of any type; I was adamant! After much battling over the issue of no battling, I caved in when he was about 8. Our local library had toys to check out and he begged for a wooden gun that shot foam thingies.
    Once I let him do that, the thrill was gone. It was the “no” that caused him to want.
    If you have to cave in, cave in with the crappiest gun you can find; they’ll have a bad first experience and it’s all over!

  11. my son had toy guns when he was little & squirt guns & grew up just fine! My grandsons also love toy guns, star wars, etc. Boys will be boys,let them live a childhood as long as you teach them about real weapons!

  12. We grew up playing cowboys and indians and are just fine, mostly…lol. You can also use it as a teachable moment to instill the seriousness of a real gun and a proper respect for them.

  13. I had water guns, cap guns & those sci-fy ones that made noise and had lights all over. I am a well rounded adult who owns zero guns at present, well besides my prop guns.. I love dressing5 up!

  14. why cant you just let him be a child. My son is three he loves cars n train n guns n is always sticking them in his pocket telling me “I’m a cop mom OKAY don’t drive fast!.” better question where is the father of your child?..come on seriously, My husband has already shot more than 3 different kinds of guns with our son. HE may just be 3 but he isn’t stupid and he understands the difference in real n fake! Let him be a boy and become a man one day.

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