Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Boys and Guns

I’ve been locked in battle with my youngest for weeks. It’s passionate and exasperating and, just like him, unrelenting. We’re fighting over guns. 

This gun in particular...

On his 5th birthday he was given it as a present from a well-meaning friend. I watched his face explode with delight. 


He has been attracted to them from an incredibly young age, which has at various times both fascinated and confused me. We have an almost unspoken ‘no gun’ rule in this house. I never bought my boys guns, despite my youngest's imploring. We’ve had super soakers in the pool but no toy guns. My eldest has never really cared for them. Could not care less if he never uses one [though, thanks to being invited to some birthday parties recently has developed quite the interest in laser skirmish]. But my youngest has always been into them. He fashions guns out of playdough and toilet rolls and cricket bats and sticks found on the ground. It’s a fun game of make-believe to him that he must have seen SOMEWHERE. Maybe tv. Maybe through friends at play. Whatever, wherever – the boy covets the gun.

When he received the gift, my heart skipped a little. I was polite to the giver but swiftly put the unopened box away reminding my rapt 5 year old boy that ‘Mummy doesn’t like him to play with guns’. It did not go down well and though it has sat high up on the cupboard in the guest room ever since, he has not forgotten about that gun. 

And today he came out in full-force and threw everything he had at me. Tears. Screaming. Stamping feet. Storming out. Threats to climb up and get it. Declarations of unfairness. Promises to not point it at any people. Throaty, heart-felt pledges to only use it with a target. Begging. And the big question.


And to be honest, between you and me, I’m not really sure anymore. Is it really, that big a deal for him to play with a gun? He’s kind and loving and sensitive. His 3 year old cousin will reduce him to tears because he won’t even defend himself against him. He is not, by nature, an aggressive or mean child. But he loves playing with guns and I wonder... can they ever just be a toy? Can playing with guns ever just be about fun?

We went to the Royal Show last month and he won this big dog. 

He won it in a shooting game. The gun was a water pistol, aimed at a target which inflated a balloon but it was a gun. Am I being a hypocrite by allowing him to play that but not allowing him to play with a nerf gun that half the kids in his class have? Am I playing double standards when I let my eldest attend laser skirmish parties [where they shoot EACH OTHER] but not let my youngest shoot a foam dart at a target?

Where is the line and have I already crossed it?


  1. I am 100% anti-gun and fought the same battle for years with my 7 year old but it seems pretty much impossible to avoid them completely. I never buy them and every chance I get I remind him that guns are not nice and I really don't like him playing with them. He did receive a nerf gun as a gift as well and I let him have it but didn't allow him to shoot it at people. He too has a gentle soul so I know I don't have to worry but I still hate seeing it. I hate even more the parents who let their kids run around with toy guns in public places shooting at people. I'd say let him have the present, but tell him it makes you a bit sad when he plays with it because you know how much guns hurt people. He might eventually realise that you're right and guns are bad. My son did, but he still plays with them sometimes.

    1. That's great advice, thanks so much!

  2. My 8 years old used to be fascinated by guns (possibly because he never had them either). He too got some as a gift and squirming inside I let him have them. For a week or so that was all he played with, but then he realised that if he wanted my attention guns were just not doing it... so now he never really plays with them unless a friend comes over for a play and I realise now Im ok with this. He is much more dangerous with a ball or his scooter around people so I've let go. Im trying to teach him to be responsible about the people around him regardless of what he is playing with. Work in progress that...

    1. Thanks Abby. It's a good point you make that you're trying to teach him to be responsible... regardless of what he's playing with. If you don't mind, I'm adding that to my own work in progress ;)

  3. Tan I grew up in a completely anti -gun, protest in the 70's , love peace happiness household. My son got his first toy gun at 5. We took it away, same as you did, but gave it t him when he asked for it...against all of my wishes / wants. It has to be about their wishes, not our wants...hard as that is. (but I would never have given one to my son without all the lessons of this is bad shit and you will have to answer to me, your mother, if you stuff it up SON)

    1. 'this is bad shit and you will have to answer to me' LOVE IT!!!