50. ‘Put the gun down, son, and no-one will get hurt!’

For £1 you can buy this lethal weapon and then watch your children go on the rampage

This is a gun I bought for my son at a Pound Shop on our trip to Manchester last week. As you can see from the photo further down, he’s very proud of it.

This is also the gun that caused me and his mother to have a blazing row last night, because what my six year-old son did with this gun was…shoot his three year-old brother.

Now before you call an ambulance, the police or social services, let me stress that no children were injured during the writing of this post. The rubber-suction bullet is about as floppy as a hubby after a night on the ale, with all the velocity of a wet fart. But it was the intent with which he shot his brother that was worrying.

He and the three year-old had had a row about something or other, but instead of letting it lie, the six year-old went to fetch his gun, then crept up behind his little bro..and shot him in the arm.The fact that the little ‘un barely flinched is neither here nor there: the fact is…he shot his brother.

I saw him do it. I watched without him knowing I was watching, and I silently willed him NOT to do it. But he did it. He shot his little brother. And I felt distraught.

I leapt on him like a cat on a mouse and wrestled the gun from his grip. I was about to snap it in half, but the look on his face was so scared, I immediately calmed down. I took him into his bedroom then had a long-and-low chat with him, about ‘what if it was a real gun, his brother would be really hurt etc etc’.

He looked at me, worried and anxious, and then apologised and promised never to do it again. He then went out to his little brother and gave him the biggest cuddliest hug you could imagine.

And as far as I was concerned, that was that. End of. But I made the mistake of telling the Successful Other Half when she walked in the door.

Now, to contextualise, she had had a murderous day at the office and would happily have shot anyone who so-muched as smiled at her, so when I told her about her son’s Clint Eastwood impersonation she went – pardon the pun – ballistic.

‘That’s it. No more guns in this house,’ she ranted. ‘I don’t care how harmless it is. It’s setting a bad example. It’s teling them that guns are OK to play with.’

But I disagreed. Vehemently. Me and my brothers always played with toy guns. We knew the difference between them and toys because our parents (I’m guessing) told us they were. It is my job to make the distinction clear to my kids, not to ban things which would have the effect of making them more desirable.

‘Cars are dangerous,’ I ranted back. ‘Should we ban toy car, too?’

I think we eventually saw eye-to-eye via the time-honoured phrase of ‘Just let it drop will you; I’ve had enough of this conversation,’ but the issue is still there, so I’d love to know what you think.

Should children be allowed to play with toy guns?


'Go ahead, punk, make me play!'





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13 Responses to 50. ‘Put the gun down, son, and no-one will get hurt!’

  1. hmm, tricky one. Having lived in the US where real guns were commonplace I chose not to buy them as I didn’t want my boy accidentally picking up a real one (not sure where?) & thinking it was a toy & shooting me. It never stopped him picking up a stick/spade/coathanger & pretending it was a gun though. He has since had a Nerf gun & shot me many times with it & I will probably end up getting no.3 a gun when he asks for one, I think it’s all part of growing up & role playing (don’t tell your wife I said that though!!)
    & my favourite line from this post is : “The rubber-suction bullet is about as floppy as a hubby after a night on the ale, with all the velocity of a wet fart” – brilliant!

    • keithkendrick

      After reading the feedback I think I’m just going to secretly ditch the gun. He won’t notice. There’s so much other plastic crap lying around here anyway.

  2. Dobby

    You can’t stop little boys making weapons out of anything they can get their hands on. We don’t have any toy guns, but it doesn’t stop my three boys using cushions as missiles & sticks as swords then proceeding to thwack each other relentlessly until my patience cracks. We do have water pistols though and it’s like open warfare in the garden in summer with an arms race to see who can grab the largest one!

    • keithkendrick

      I wonder if there’s a difference between boys and girls. I see it all the time with ours (older girl; two younger boys). The boys just want to fight all the time; the girl wants to create.

  3. I will not buy one for The Boy and hubby has agreed with me. I know that boys will be boys, but there is something about guns that I really don’t want him experiencing. It may be to do with the fact that my elder brother accidentally shot my youngest brother in the neck with an air-rifle when they we’re young, when they were supposed to be supervised by my father (their step-dad). Luckily he wasn’t badly hurt, surface wound. However, it just goes to show that even ‘toy’ guns are dangerous.

    Personally, I’d bin it.

  4. Terry

    Not sure I should get involved in this one Keith coming from my background! IMHO I don’t see anything wrong with kids role playing with toy guns or understanding about guns and the consequences of their use but thats just me. A little gem for you if you do want to teach kids about guns is a little know saying ‘never point a gun in jest as it jest might go off’.

  5. But we don’t live in the States and there aren’t guns lying around in most houses…We all played with them as kids – plastic guns, spud guns, water pistols…I don’t think it’s a biggie Floppy Joe.

  6. I’ve just remembered a story about an ex-boyfriend of mine (Irish) who was staying in London with some mates and they were all messing around with plastic guns target shooting beside their flat’s window. (Don’t ask…) Next thing he knew there was a police squad in riot gear at the door because a neighbour had phoned them saying that there were 3 Irish guys with guns in the flat upstairs!! Maybe you should ditch it just in case Special Branch come calling.

    • keithkendrick

      I’ve ditched it now. The boy doesn’t know and nor will he ever think about it. Too many other distractions. Parenting’s a minefield though, eh? (Excuse the explosives pun)

  7. Jude.x

    Hi Keith. Been following your blog since it was brought to the attention of a scrapbook forum (yeah! I know! Don’t say it! :-D) where your name was mud, rather than Keith. My boys never wanted a gun, but the daughter did – and was bought it. Never any problem with shooting her brothers – even though she’d have been justified. But there again I had a toy gun too, never actually shot my brother, but me and the older brother did try to electrocute the younger one! I can see both sides of the argument, but what I’m trying to say is that if you want to hurt a sibling you’ll find a way regardless of being given the means to do it, or not. (Like using a table lamp to test out a theory on how painful electric is?) Jude.x

  8. Leni

    My gran always said never leave any sharp objects lying around the house, like scissors for instance. In the heat of the moment you might take it and do something you might regret. Now my gran had twelve children so a tantrum here or there would be a normal thing for her. As a result our scissors and knives where always in a kitchen drawer and never stored on the counter top like many people do these days in fancy knives blocks.
    I suppose guns appeal more to boys then girls. Although me and my sisters would make paper darts and blow them at each other through those yellow PVC tubes my dad had in our smithy. Or chase each other with water guns through the same smithy. Our son is ten months. I seriously don’t know if I would let him have a toy gun. Seeing I have no brothers I have no idea how our son would respond to toy guns. Tough question Keith.
    By the way this is the first time I’ve left a reply but I’ve been reading your blog ever since I saw the article in the Daily Mail. I love reading it. Keep it up! :-)