I hid the Star Wars coloring book from our four year old grandson because of the weapons. One could make the point that they aren’t really guns. They’re light sabers. It’s not real people-killing violence. It’s fantasy violence. But I don’t want him spending time with scary looking critters pointing what sure look like guns to me.
I do apologize to any of the other grandparents who might have spent their money on the coloring book which he brought over to our house in his backpack. But it’s disappeared. Same thing will happen to a toy gun. Any and all will be confiscated at the front door.
There is no such thing as a safe toy gun. We know that now. Pretend guns are designed to look like the real thing. So real that some veteran cops say they can’t tell the difference. You could be a kid walking down the street on a warm fall afternoon with your make believe gun and end up dead.
That’s what happened to Andy Lopez of Santa Rosa, Ca. Shot seven times with real bullets because he had a BB gun designed to look like an assault rifle. It wasn’t a real assault rifle but it was a good enough facsimile to cause a kid to be killed.
Thirteen year old Andy Lopez was fatally shot by a Sonoma County sheriff’s deputy when the deputy told him to drop the gun. The boy turned toward the deputy, maybe to see who was shouting at him. Maybe to show that he didn’t have a real gun. But when he turned his body the toy gun turned too. The deputy said he thought his life was in danger. So he shot Andy.
If you are a grandparent or a parent you likely had a toy gun yourself when you were a kid. I had a plastic water pistol. My husband got a double gun and holster set for his fifth birthday. He took it to bed every night.
But that was then. The old “when I was a kid” nostalgia defense doesn’t work when you’re talking about guns and kids today. We do not live in the days of Ralphie, the 9-year-old who pined for a BB gun in that holiday TV classic “A Christmas Story.”
I’m sure it’s much scarier being a cop these days. It’s certainly a worrisome time to be a parent. And a dangerous time to be a kid.
When our friends’ son was little his parents worried about guns being in the homes of his playmates. Today a parent might want to inquire if their kid’s friends’ parents let them play with pretend guns, toy guns. I wonder what our gun-adoring culture would say to a campaign to get kids to give up their toy guns, turn them in like they do leftover Halloween candy to the local dentist for something healthier. Trade you a soccer ball for that mock AK-47?
As for getting any new control on real guns, in Sanford, Florida, the town where 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot dead by a neighbor on self-appointed patrol, weapons have now been banned from neighborhood watch volunteers. But only a month away from the first anniversary of the Sandy Hook school massacre, the most dramatic action is to demolish the school where 20 first graders were gunned down.
No, on guns, the NRA continues to run this country, leaving many of us to ask why do gun rights count more than children’s lives? And now we can ask, why do toy makers create play weapons that look as big and bad as the real thing? And why, here in beautiful Wine Country, did a child have to die in a vacant lot now covered with candles and outrage?