“Still uncomfortable with the idea of gun play? Try setting and enforcing some common sense limits. Some parents establish a ‘no pointing or shooting at other people’ rule. I insist that all orange plastic tips remain on toy guns and restrict gun play to private areas outside of public sight. My boys also know that the play must stop immediately if someone expresses discomfort with the play, or if an adult or authority figure asks them to stop.” – Jennifer L.W. Fink, Is Gun Play OK? [via parade.com]

Recommended For You

61 Responses to Quote of the Day: Common Sense Gun Play

  1. I agree with this part “insist that all orange plastic tips remain on toy guns” I have often thought of painting my nephew’s entire barrel past the front sight post blaze orange just in case some over zealous cop comes along.

    As far as hiding it from public view or stopping any time anyone mentions they are uncomfortable? Or no pointing at each other. well, its their kid not mine. But I think back to being 7 and 8 and 9 years old and how many times we fought off the Indians, Germans and space aliens in my backyard, often being driven into the front by the waves of heavily armed Indians/ Germans/aliens (played by other 7 8 or 9 year olds)… How much fun would I have missed out on with my plastic m16 and my old plastic lever action rifle?

    • I like to apply the rule “Don’t point a gun at anything you’re not willing to shoot” to toy (fake) guns as well.
      While I realize that it can’t actually fire a projectile, play like that will not reinforce the gun safety rule positively. From a young age they should practice handling any weapon or fake weapon with proper care and form. I realize that many of you may say that you played like that all the time and it hasn’t affected you negatively, but everyone has a different situation, and it never hurts to be safe.

      • yes… let’s further the myth that we are all irresponsible gun owners because we can’t teach our kids the difference between a toy, and a tool.

        Some people are just beyond help. Think of it this way… how often do you get a chance to move and shoot with your guns? Your kids will just be that much better prepared if/when they have to do it since they’ll have the muscle memory to rely on..

        Bottom line at toy is a toy is a toy…If it actually shoot projectiles, I could possibly see some of what you are saying, but let’s be realistic and grounded about this, shall we?

        • “… how often do you get a chance to move and shoot with your guns?”

          Not only that, children playing with toy guns are also beginning to practice “shoot, no-shoot” skills as well. When you were defending yourselves against, Indians, Germans, or space aliens, you were inherently training to identify “friend or foe” which is extremely valuable if you ever face a public attack from multiple assailants.

      • When kids are playing with guns it’s usually good guy vs bad guy. OF COURSE they’re going to point the guns at each other! The whole point of the game is identifying the target that needs to be shot and then taking it out.

        I had an army surplus Springfield ’03 training rifle (dummy rifle, modern versions are now made from hard plastic and called “Rubber Duckies”) complete with a plastic bayonet. I would frequently defend my backyard (in Chicago) by placing a firecracker in the end of the barrel as the Japs came over the fence.

        If you want to monitor your kid’s gun play, make sure his fantasized target would qualify as a valid target if the situation were real. Make sure they observe reasonable safety rules, such as eye protection if the weapon actually discharges some sort of projectile, and even though any real bad guy in the world could get a can of hunter orange spray paint from Home Depot for his carry gun needs, it probably is effective to leave the orange tips on so the SWAT team doesn’t shoot your children.

        • I had one of those too! However mine seemed to have fewer features (trigger and guard completely missing, front “barrel” held on by masking tape). Newer versions of these with the plastic components were actually used by the color guard when I was in school.

        • In 1965-1966, when I was in 12th grade, the school did a play where they used real guns, loaded with blanks, and black powder flashpots to simulate a battle. Someone brought a real military bayonet from home to use in a stabbling scene.

          And I had two different teachers, on two different occasions, explain the scenario that demonstrates why socialism is a non-starter.

          And all this was done with exactly ZERO interference (or money) from the Federal Government.

          Ah, for the good ol’ days!

  2. You can have whatever rules you want for your kids. Whatever. However, what is all this crap about making people uncomfortable? People do not have a right, in any sense of the word, to be comfortable. There are people who, even in this day and age, don’t like blacks. Should blacks have to remove themselves because they make people uncomfortable? (The answer would be “No” in case you’re dense.)

    I don’t like cats. I don’t have a conniption over someone who has one in their house. I may even pet the little beastie if it doesn’t claw my eyes out. It would be rude for me to tell someone “Can you lock that thing up? It just makes me uncomfortable!”

    What a whiny pissant society we are becoming.

  3. I remember bb gun wars before airsoft and paintball were popular. My daughter doesn’t play with guns, but if she wanted to that would be fine with me. One thing that stands out with me, I remember the kids that were not allowed to play toy guns. They would be the first to pick up a stick that resembled a gun and play anyway.

    • +1 on BB gun wars. Everybody got together and came up with what we thought were plausible explanantions to give the grups about our injuries.

      And it’s not just guns. In Sunday school we heard the story of David and Goliath so a bunch of us cut up bike inner tubes to make slings. We chose up sides by the creek. Much bloodier than any of our BB gun fights.

      • One of the worst injuries-prone things we did as kids was play “ninjas” during the winter where we broke up ice from the ponds and threw chunks of ice at each other like shurikens. We used to also throw fern roots at each other – either game left blood and could knock out teeth.

        Neither game would probably be viable in today’s helicopter parent reality.

        On one hand I envy the kids of today for all the tech they have at their fingertips. On the other hand I pity them for the overexposure to information they get and the fact they are not allowed to act like kids anymore.

      • As a child growing up in Florida, I have fond memories of “Orange Fights” in the orange groves that surrounded everything in Orlando.

        Most kids picked them straight off the trees and hurled them at “enemies.” Those of us that were a little meaner, picked the “softer” ones off the ground and used those.

    • My brother in law was one of those that wasn’t allowed to play with guns, so yes any stick or anything else had to suffice. Now he’s a huge gun enthusiast and a Marine (people get offended if you say former Marine, but he’s out now).

      I had plenty of toy guns to play with, but no friends around where I lived. The kids that shot each other with BB guns seemed completely reckless to me even as a child.

      • No, former Marine is acceptable, it’s calling the an ex-Marine that’s a no-no. The ex implies that they are not a Marine, while the former just informs that they were prior active service, but are not anymore.

        • Please tell me that Marines aren’t another easily offended group….oh the humanity!

        • IANAM, but I would reserve the use of ex-marine for those who were dishonorably discharged etc.

          – bsd

        • Marines, former or otherwise, are NOT easily offended, unless they are looking for a reason to fight, but EX-Marine implies that all they did to become a Marine no longer applies and since a great deal of that is about attitude and commitment they do seem to tae offense at the implication. In my experience, however, reaction is generally limited to a stern correction on terminology, unless you insist on more.

        • Cliff H,

          I disagree. Marines, when hammered, are often quite easily offended. There might potentially exist unnecessary and unprovoked confrontations with other service members in bars! Not that I’ve ever been in a bar scuffle – perish the thought – I just remember reading that online once. And I never drank just one drink when I was drinking in the Corps.

      • <joke>
        A Marine and an Airman were in the airport latrine peeing. When they finished, the Marine heads for the sink and the Airman heads for the door. “Hey! Flyboy!” barks the Marine. “Yes?” responds the Airman, politely. “In the Marines, they teach us to wash our hands after we go! Don’t you zoomies wash?”

        “Oh. No, in the Air Force they teach us not to piss on our hands.”
        </joke>

    • We went a step further than BB guns. My parents brought my brother and I spring loaded toy guns that fired plastic bullets, roughly the overall size of a .22LR cartridge. We seemed to have turned out alright, except for that pesky believing in the constitution thing….

    • I’m 50+yo & I don’t remember any kids in my neighborhood not being allowed to play with toy guns. They’re TOYS, for cryin’ out loud! Should a kid not be allowed to play with a stuffed bear b/c a real bear might attack someday??? ‘Stay away from that toy bear, kid – you might get mauled.’
      We played cops & robbers, cowboys & indians, and I also remember playing ‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E.’ & James Bond, and all involved playing with toy guns. Moreover, when my dad took me hunting, I knew the difference between a real gun & a toy gun . . . . at a very early age.

      Parents who confuse toy guns with real guns & then impose that confusion onto their (and perhaps other) kids, must also be confused about establishing real boundaries.

      • ^^ This X 1000! Make sure they can tell the difference between a toy and a tool.. and not just guns, but all tools or toys that resemble them! TEACH your kids!! C’mon people.. how hard is it to teach responsibility, accountability and sense to your kids?!?!

    • BB gun wars. holy crap those hurt. We had one rule. No more than one pump on the 760 powermaster.
      Never broke the skin. No one lost an eye. We didn’t get swatted. Our parents just shook their heads and reminded us who would pay for a broken window.

      • My friends and I did that too … the good old Crossman 760 BB/pellet rifle. We had three rules:
        (1) one pump only
        (2) mandatory safety glasses
        (3) BBs only

        Someone or other got zinged pretty bad a couple times but the only long lasting damage was to our pride.

        I can assure you that someone of our generation who used BB guns for that stuff was the inventor of AirSoft — an even smarter solution than using BB guns.

      • One good battlefield for the BB gun wars was inside a metal barn.
        You could arrange the hay bails to hide behind but one good trick was to ricochet a shot off the side and end walls near the corner to hit them from the behind.

        I had a 760 and the one pump rule applied as well but it was not my favorite weapon for action. I would trade for a spring loaded lever action for rapid fire by holding it sideways at the waist cocking the lever with my fingers and pulling the trigger with my thumb, much faster than pumping the 760.

        • Daisy made a pump action, spring loaded BB gun way back when, not sure if they still do now. That was a killer. We banned pump action BB guns are one kid got a bb so far under his skin he had to go to the hospital to get it removed. We narrowed it down to one guy but he never fessed up to violating the one pump rule. The only other rule we had was you had to wear goggles. Guys with glasses were strangely exempt (we didn’t consider spalling to be a viable threat back then).

  4. You know what makes me “uncomfortable”? Parents who let kids post YouTube videos of them doing ANYTHING! This kid is what, 10 or so? Instead of being the Internet phenom, he ought to be outside playing. As to the toy guns? I remember when my son went to a “cowboy & indian” themed birthday party when he was about 8. Sadly, Mom dressed him as the ONLY Indian! But, he came home & today is a successful chef in Charleston. Nothing deranged about him or his other friends from that party. They are all successful, young men; some with families, some hunters, but all “living the dream”.

  5. I never had an orange tip on my toys. I liked them when they were the most real looking. I really liked my M1911 cap gun. I had a holster and belt for it. In fact, I think it’s still in a box at my parents’ home in the attic. I used to hang my toy rifles on a rifle rack in my bedroom that was like my dad’s real rifle rack in the den.

    I see no need for orange tips, it’s just another stupid government inspired attempt to take fun out of things.

    Yes, if someone expresses discomfort, your kid should stop. That’s just good manners. And if a cat does the same, put it in another room. Again, manners.

    My dad always told us not to point our toy guns at other people, a rule that was universally ignored, because you can’t shoot someone if you don’t point your gun at them, and we had enough arguments about who shot whom first without not pointing at them. And that’s the whole fun of the game anyway.

    Kids today are so different. I’m fortunate to live in a cul de sac with a lot of kids who regularly play together. My daughter is the only one who owns a baseball glove. But they all have their nerf guns and swords and other weapons of war and ninja.

    • I don’t see much point in the orange tip, until an overzealous cop comes by and thinks it’s real(not all cops are particularly firearms savy as we know) and then goes on a power trip or worse. Of course should it be mandated? No, but I don’t think I would buy my kids a toy gun without one. Of course I hope they still make toy guns that look like real guns by the time I actually have kids. I had a toy 1911, and an mp5 that I was quite fond of as a kid. The 1911 did not have an orange tip, but that was back in saner times.

  6. My parents didn’t get us any toy guns on the basis of them not being toys. They weren’t exactly wrong, but we ended up making them out of anything anyway. Fingers, Lego’s,constructs, and one ingenious brother who made a functioning crossbow out of Constructs that could actually break skin. He would ambush me periodically. Not to mention the carved wooden spears made from sticks. The point is , children will find a way. My parents eventually accepted that , though my father was never unclear about not messing with his real pistol.

  7. Yup, we do this for the children, with the children, by the children, and to the children. I’ll give the kid points for trying. A little more time with that fake 870 and we will let him play on the range with a real one.

  8. All those nasty, possibly unintended consequences out there… I was maybe 10 with four younger siblings when my mom lost her mind when she found out we were actually shooting each other with BB guns. I’m not saying it was smart – you actually can lose an eye that way. But we did it until she confiscated all the BB guns in the house and put them up in the top of the closet. Within days we’d figure out how to whack off the tips off yucca cactus that grew everywhere outside and chased each other with those, doing out best to impale each other, sometimes successfully. Facing potential serious blood loss, she relented within days and gave us back the BB guns. I distinctly remember her muttering, “Boys… (grumble, grumble, grumble)” and putting my father in charge. I think she then went inside and fixed herself a scotch.

    We all survived, with all our eyes intact, though not without a few scattered scars. Just what it was like growing up way back when.

  9. hmmmmm… failure to eject. not sure that weapon is 100% reliable. In the future, I would like to see the star system utilized so we can get an accurate overall rating…

  10. Used to have NERF gun / water gun / water balloons wars all the time as a kid with the other neighborhood kids. We literally ran around EVERYWHERE, from house to house, and yard to yard. Sadly, I guess those were more innocent times, in more innocent neighborhoods… nowadays, I’d be worried about my kids doing the same thing unless they were under my supervision in the backyard. Too many overzealous five-o and wannabe bangers in the current neighborhood where I reside…

  11. I’m personally getting tired of all the pansies telling kids when and where and IF they can play with a TOY gun. If they’re in MY yard and are not firing projectiles into someone else’s property, they need to butt out. I don’t come over to their house and tell them how to run things.

  12. Growing up in a super-safe suburb in Canada where there was very little gun violence, especially 30 years ago, we all had realistic-looking toy guns to play with. There was never a concern that someone would get shot or arrested by the police for having something that looked like a gun – because anyone who saw a kid with a “gun” would have automatically assumed it was a toy. I mean, maybe if you tried to rob a 7-11 with it the calculus would change, but otherwise?

    That said, my parents didn’t have guns – nobody we knew did (at least that we knew of). To the parents out there who let their kids shoot, does it change how you let your kids play with toy guns?

  13. “My boys also know that they must stop immediately if someone expressed discomfort with the play”

    I brought this very concern up to my mother once when I was young and playing airsoft, her response was
    “If they have a problem they can go f*ck themselves.”

    Luckily nobody ever had a problem.

    • I think the implication is that if your kid is shoving the toy gun in their faces and yelling “bang!” then they should stop. Just manners. If they’re running around not bothering others, then butt out, of course.

  14. “Still uncomfortable with the idea of homosexuality? Try setting and enforcing some common sense limits. Some parents establish a ‘no holding hands or hugging between children of the same sex’ rule. I insist that all boys play with trucks and girls play with dolls and clothes remain on children and restrict physical contact to the pool. My boys also know that the play must stop immediately if someone expresses discomfort with the play, or if an adult or authority figure asks them to stop.”

  15. I truly regret having to say this, but I fear once her child mutates into a teenager they will go off their anxiety meds and murder her in her sleep. With scissors.

  16. When I was just a lad, my friends and I all played with toy guns and delighted in pointing our cap pistols at one another. There was also a large group of children who did not like toy guns. As I recall, these children were called “girls.”

  17. Our toy guns look real as can be. We had BB guns that looked real too, I had a revolver that you would swear was a true firearm when I opened it. Somehow we all survived to be adults.

  18. As a kid I used to strap on my holster and put my single action cowboy gun in it. It was completely black with brown grips and not a spec of orange on it, the hammer even cocked and the trigger even worked. I went literally everywhere wearing that, from shopping with my mother to the park. I’m only 25 so that wasn’t too long ago, but try that today and holy bananas would that kid and mother that allowed such ‘reckless and violent behavior’ have a bad day. The media would have a field day!

    Now that I think back, I guess its no wonder I grew up to carry everywhere everyday…

    To me, what is the difference of letting your kid play with a toy gun if you let him/her play a video game where they are shooting people? If anything I would argue it is better to let the kid play with a toy gun over any violent video game. It isn’t as graphic and it actually gets the kid outside for hours at a time without clogging their mind up with crap.

  19. I usually enjoy videos of stranger’s kids about as much as a warm glass of vinegar but I gotta say, that’s a cute kid. And a good video. 🙂

  20. I’m friendly with a couple of gun grabbers…I think even they’d find this stupid as they let their kid play with toy guns. Their only rule is not to point it at someone who isn’t playing with you and to keep the orange tip thingy on it.

  21. Related, sort of….

    “It’s now very common to hear people say, ‘I’m rather offended by that.’ As if that gives them certain rights. It’s actually nothing more… than a whine. ‘I find that offensive.’ It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. ‘I am offended by that.’ Well, so f’ing what.”

    ― Stephen Fry

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *