Skip to content

Toy Guns

June 3, 2019

Recently I was asked what my favorite toy was during my childhood. After a little thought, it was obvious: it was my various toy guns. I grew up in the sixties, during the Sean Connery/James Bond craze. I wanted to be a spy with a license to kill, so I loved my toy guns. The more realistic they looked, the better.

My younger brother and I had a favorite game that we played almost nightly. One of us would hide in the darkened basement while the other would creep down the stairs and attempt to find the one hiding. We each had a gun, and the point was to shoot and kill the other first. We took turns either being the one hiding or the one trying to flush the other out. We played this endlessly.

As I think about this game now, and my utter fascination with guns and killing, I am troubled. I have changed, and the times have changed as well. Parents are less likely to buy their children toy guns, and toy guns are less likely to look realistic. Today, a child playing in a park with a realistic looking gun (something I did often) is liable to be shot and killed by a police officer–and the officer may not even face prosecution. Our society seems to be much more fearful now than it was fifty years ago. We are on a hair trigger, ready to shoot and kill anyone who appears to be a possible threat. No more playing with toy guns–it’s too dangerous.

But toy guns haven’t disappeared, they’ve just morphed into something even more dangerous. We see a lot less toy guns outside because they are now all inside our homes in computer games. Games of shooting and killing have become wildly popular, and they are far more realistic than anything I could have imagined as a child. In our shooting games today we can see bodies torn apart and pink mist exploding from head shots.

Is this virtual reality of murder and mayhem conditioning some troubled children to act it out in real school shootings? Is it conditioning some adults to take guns with extended clips of ammunition into the workplace to gun down as many people as possible?

Violence will always be a favorite fantasy of many children and adults–especially males. I think it’s built into us. It’s deeply woven into our fairy tales, epics, and fantasy movies. Maybe it’s a needed rite of passage for boys to imagine courage and self-sacrifice in the face of violence.

But real guns and real violence are a different matter. These should have no place in our homes. I’m not talking about opposing the constitutional right to keep and bear arms. I’m talking about a personal choice not to arm ourselves. The imagination we need to be instilling in our children and ourselves is the imagining of overcoming hostility with compassionate goodness, and conflict with courageous peacemaking. Is this not the faith of Jesus and the New Testament church that so many Americans claim to profess?

For those who live in fear and choose to rely on a gun kept in the bed stand, wouldn’t it make sense to at least insist on better gun safety? Things like: universal background checks, limited capacity ammunition clips, age limits for owning a gun, and banning silencers and assault rifles.

The mass shooting last week in Virginia Beach is just the latest reminder that we need to change the soul of society now. Arming more people is not the answer. That’s simply a further reliance on fear jacked up by gun manufacturers who want to make more money. Let’s have the courage and heart to say no to our escalating fantasy of violence.

From → Topics

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: