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Here’s why I let my child play with guns

Letting your kids play with toy guys likely won’t turn them into killers. But leaving out the truth about guns could be fatal.

I was reading an article on The Washington Post recently about a woman who is not entirely comfortable parenting her gun-loving 4-year-old boy. It got me to thinking about how I have raised my children (now 5 and 6) so far in a gun-friendly environment.

To me, boys playing with toy guns and swords is no different than girls playing with Barbie or dolls — or vice versa. And banning a specific type of toy from our house isn’t going stop a certain type of play. My son can make a toy gun from LEGO pieces or a sword from an empty wrapping paper roll. Kids may even find something more provocative to use as a gun.

When I think of guns, I do not go to a place of violence. I go back to my childhood — when I used to get up at the crack of dawn before the sun had come out to play so I could go on a hunting trip with my father and his friends. Guns, to me, were equitable to camaraderie and sustenance — because whatever my dad bagged became the food that would feed our family for months. My father was, and continues to be, a great advocate for preservation and protection of wildlife, and as my sister and I grew up, he taught us how to shoot a gun and how to respect a gun for its abilities and its dangers.

As a mother who continues to look to her own parents for guidance, I have taught my children about the real dangers of guns. They know the difference between a toy gun and a real one. We enjoy going to the arcade shooting range at our local Bass Pro Shop (yes, my father comes too) and blasting those targets just for the fun of it. But I know my son would never even want to point a real gun at a real animal with the intent to kill it — even if it was going to be used for food.

As with all things, guns come with responsibility. I kind of hate the phrase “guns don’t kill people, people do” but there is a grain of truth there. Irresponsible people, people that are uneducated about guns and, sadly, people that are mentally ill yet untreated or in a desperate situation are often to blame. My children will never fall into one of those categories if I can help it through the education about and respect for guns and gun safety.

More on guns, kids and safety

Toy guns: Harmless fun or mixed messages?
This simple question could save your child’s life
Fifth grader suspended for pointing a finger gun

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