Monday, 22 February 2010


Guns. The great debate. Should little boys be allowed to play with toy guns? I have to admit that when Toby was younger I was very anti-guns and tried extremely hard not to let him have any or play with any. Everything inside of me screamed out (and still does) that gun play was a violent game that was totally inappropriate for children to play.

"Don't they realise how devastating a real gun can be? Have they not watched the news recently and seen how evil people with guns can ravage a whole community?"

Of course they haven't! Why would they watch the news? Why would they know about such terrible violence?! Even if I tried to explain it to them, which I did sometimes, they still would not understand. They are playing a game. It is not real life. It is far from real life for them (hopefully).

I very quickly realised that the more I tried to protect my son from guns, the more he would want to play with them. Everything from a toy guitar to a chewed up piece of toast was transformed into a gun. He made them out of lego, sticks, crayons and even his own beautiful little angelic hands. It horrified me to see him playing out such terrible games, but I was fighting a losing battle.

I have not done a great deal of research on this, but I honestly do not think that gun play turns boys into violent men. If it did, there would be a lot more violent men out there today. More important factors in producing violent teenage boys and men are more likely to be the values they have been given as foundations in their lives, the way their Dad (or other significant men) has dealt with his own anger and the love and security they have received as children. I'm sure there are many more.

Boys have an inbuilt need for adventure, for 'the chase', for danger and for 'hunting' and if we don't let them express these when they are younger then perhaps when they are older, stronger and able to access more dangerous equipment they will begin to assert these needs in ways that are not games anymore.

What do you think? Let's have a poll. Should little boys be allowed to play with guns?


Miriam said...

I let the children play pretend guns in my class (ages 3-5) I do this by ignoring it.
I think no harm can come from it and it lets them get it all out of their system. It's something they will want to do one month and not the next. During college I wrote a dissertation on the importance of dramatic play for children. I really believe it is a safe place where children express themselves, explores ideas and learn about decision making.
I like to read what you have to say on the subject of boys Helen, so thanks.I do feel boys can be overlooked and labelled. I try hard in my teaching to let boys be boys. (To the annoyance of my teaching assistant on occasions.)

Pam said...

As you said H, even if we don't give them plastic toy guns then they will make them out of other objects. I have personally drawn the line at replica type toys, preferring for my boys to play with colourful space style guns which make lots of annoying noise,but are a lot less like the real thing. My question to you Mums hoe don't allow your boys to play with guns is "do they have water pistols in the summer>>?"

An interested dad! said...

I have played with countless gun type things and I have never picked up a real one to shoot a person yet!

The foundations are more important and things like violent on screen gaming that desensitizes the boys to what real violence can do to people.

One day I will teach them hw to shoot with and respect a real gun, perhaps that is a better way to go?

Holly said...

The research says that gun play is ok under controlled circumstances, there are rules that go along with it and are part of the game. We did it with our kids last year when we did pirates. They loved it for the first few days and then, probably because it was allowed, got bored of it and went back to other things. Telling boys they can't play power rangers or Ben 10 or whatever is like telling girls they can't play house or make jewellery ( the activities sound stereotypical I know but it's true). And like you say, they will make them from anything they can get their hands on.
Late comment, I know!!