Jennie, what fun topic are you going to choose to start your little blog?
Toy guns…son of a bitch. I probably should have started with trying to replace my bathroom faucet, but I go with what is on my mind.
This past week we went to Nickelodeon Universe. The lines were atrociously long and waiting in them was nothing we wanted to do, so we were mini-golf bound. Right next door is Professor Bellow’s Old Time Photography. In the window there are photos of people dressed to the nines (which, what the hell does that mean?) and holding their prop guns to fit the genre of everything from the Old West to steampunk. Immediately Eli wanted to do this and was set on the cowboy theme.
I will take a moment to say what a wonderful staff they have here. We didn’t have an appointment, but were able to get right in. Everyone was helpful, friendly and extremely understanding about my inability to properly put on my costume. I was immediately struck by our photographer Cody’s first interaction with me. I’m sure they they have to do this and probably had a big memo about it, but it still really mattered. Making sure Eli was out of ear shot, I was asked if prop guns were okay for our photo shoot. Now in our case I don’t think there is anyway Eli would have participated if I said no. However, as a mother who has to think about her children getting shot when they are suppose to be safe in school, I truly appreciated this.
Eli was given two prop revolvers. One for his holster and one for his hand. He had no previous experience with revolvers and was enthralled. When we finished, he kept asking me what they were called again and if he could please have one. After going back and forth in my head about 70 times, I agreed on the stipulation that that was a house only toy. Ok, but could he take it out in the store? No. Ok, but could he take it out when we were eating? No. Ok, but could he take it out in the parking lot? No. Car? Driveway? How about when we were on our way into the house? This one I finally relented on that one. It’s obviously a toy, but the thought of him having it out just brought too many bad ideas into my head.
This was never an issue with Lucy. She absolutely had/has no interest in weapons. Not even a nerf gun. I never had to really think about it and how I felt about it. That being said, my children are complete opposites from each other. Absolutely nothing about raising them has been the same. So of course, Eli likes guns. Not having another parent to bounce these things off can get your brain stuck in a continuous circle of which way to handle it.
I don’t feel uncomfortable around guns. My father has hunted my entire life. From a small age we had rifles and shotguns out at our house regularly for cleaning and maintenance. Then they got locked up again. I don’t have any awkward feelings handling a gun. However, I will no longer keep my gun in my house. Not even in a safe. Eli knows never to pick up a real gun. He knows never to handle any thing that could be a weapon carelessly. But Eli’s brain also gets away from him sometimes. I have seen experienced gun owners accidentally almost shoot someone. We take no chances in our house.
I am 100% behind significantly stronger gun control. I don’t think anyone needs to own even a semi-automatic weapon. Hell, if the decision was finally made we were getting our guns taken away because no one can seem to act like a fucking adult, I wouldn’t really have any problem with that. The cry of “it’s our right” would be laughable to me at this point if it weren’t so scary how serious these people are.
Buy toy guns. That topic still alludes me. There has been no link (that I have found) between gun play as a child and a violent path as a teenager or adult. I could dive into video games here, but this isn’t about that. Is it just paranoia? What if my kid becomes “that kid”? Or even “What if people think my kid is ‘that kid’?” Eli has never hurt anyone or anything maliciously. Would I still feel this way if he didn’t struggle with the issues he does? His lack of self-control at times of high emotion or over stimulation? Where is the acceptable place to draw the line? We are pirates battling in sword fights on the deck of our ship every week. We are the Dark Side vs. Jedi regularly with our light sabers. We even battle with our nerf “shooters” to see who has better aim. My job is full of crossbows and archery. Why am I less torn on those? Influence of society seems to be the obvious answer. I am no more likely to be shot by an orange tipped revolver than I am stabbed with a plastic pirate sword.
So what is the answer? I have no idea. I will continue to advocate gun safety and gun control laws in my house. We will never own a toy high powered weapon. With each tragedy we face in this country, I will continue to make sure to voice that each victim has a name, is someone’s family member, friend, a person who didn’t have to lose their life in such a senseless way. I know helicopter parenting is all the rage and there will most likely be a post coming up soon about that. In the meantime, I should just relax, remember I have a good kid and a plastic toy pistol isn’t going to sent him down the road of a serial killer.