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January 16, 2019

Comments

Good piece, Richard!

You and I are (roughly) the same age. My parents were virulently anti-gun and refused to buy me toy guns...until...

For some reason I never thought to ask about, they bought me not just a toy gun, but the ULTIMATE toy gun - Johnny Seven OMA (One Man Army). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnny_Seven_OMA

Sooner or later, I also had a Six-Finger ("man alive...how did I ever get along with five" - https://io9.gizmodo.com/5864217/the-amazing-sixfinger-the-most-disturbing-toy-that-you-probably-never-owned).

I have a hard time buying your suggested causation (that you admit needs further study). Perhaps instead, we are more sensitive to gun play as gun violence is a real threat in our lives, and even the lives of children. I don’t allow toy guns in our home when “we have a real gun problem right outside our doors” as I tell my child. We also live in Oakland where there are a lot of shootings. I don’t want to normalize guns. When we stop allowing real guns in this country, perhaps they can become playthings agin.

I would look at the rise of blood and gore video games like Call of Duty. Play 5 minutes of this game and tell me it has zero affect on an impressionable mind. Video game creators get a pass on this very disturbing trend.

In South Korea, you can buy super real looking toy guns.
Super popular category. Big sales.
No South Korean students or immigrants from South Korea to the USA are perps of gun crimes in the USA. None.

Toy gun sales in the USA at an all time low, and at an all time low availability as well. The Star Wars guns look less like guns than Super Soakers do.
The Han Solo blaster looks like a giant orange hair dryer.
So far, toy lightsaber popularity has not lead to real sword violence.

What about the lives saved due to gun ownership? Crimes thwarted? It seems unfair to leave that out. That graph, and those stats, are just as "off the charts" and growing.

Valerie Heilbron

A very thoughtful piece, Richard. So many disconnects between what were past harmless "fun" toys and today's gun violence. It may well be that we can't at all look at toy guns/bombs as they were a part of scenario play in the past. And whatever moves us further from gun violence today must be the deciding criteria.

Interesting article Richard. When my kids were, well, kids, I never allowed toy guns (even water guns) in the house. However, they seemed to pick up anything long and narrow (broom, plunger, you name it) and "shoot" at each other. Thus, I always suspected that there was some natural play pattern involved. And, no, no video games either.

Interesting debate: My frame of reference is myself. Born in 1952, In the late 50’s my allowance was .15 cents per day, doles our daily. For weeks, I would buy the same rubber indian knife. I had a fun belt with two six guns and when alone, I would play out a fantasy with a couch bolster, when stood upright, became another cowboy wearing a belt with one gun. We would stand at a table that represented a bar and I would make believe he would spill a drink on me which ofcourse led to a fist fight with the bolster. Ofcourse the 2nd couch bolster came in to help his friend but I always won. Sometimes there was no end when my Mother came in and yelled at me for punching the bolsters and telling me to do something ‘constructive.’
This led me to about 10 or 11 when mail order companies offered a daisy pump gun (bb gun) for selling greeting cards to the neighbors.
I still have shame about shooting a small bird off a telephone wire. It is this shame that has molded me to someone that could not possibly hunt an animal or step on insects etc. Yes, I believe study would certainly bring out that play and reality are real for the child but not necessarily a prelude to what will be! Play teaches us lessons for better and possibly for worse. I can only rely on my experience and wonderful memories, ofcourse except for the bird incident. Perhaps that set me up for a life’s lesson!

Richard,
I'm a little late to the party on this, but wanted to weigh in. I remember the buckle gun, and Johnny Seven and Six Finger and Greenie Stickem Caps and Shootin' Shells and the great guns so many companies made.
No, a thousand times no. Toy guns do not beget real violence. That's what all the dorky Moms in the neighborhood thought decades ago. So kids would just come over to my house and we'd open up the arsenal.
I think you may be on to something with the repression of those childhood tendencies returning during adolescence. And I would agree that ultra-violent video games turn out callous, insensitive teenaged terrorists. Fortnite anyone?
Bring back toy guns!

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