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?