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“Consistently demonstrating how to handle conflict with patience and compassion will counter the myth we all see on TV and in movies, the myth that the best solution is force. Until then, I’ll continue to try to curb the arsenal growing in our toy room, starting with this Barbie doll my son twisted around to look like a revolver.” – Andrew Andestic in Guns, Boys and Steel: Should We Put Pretend Weapons in Our Childrens’ Hands? [at]

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  1. Boys will put toy weapons in their own hands with or without a parents permission. A stick becomes a rifle or a sword as soon as a boy picks it up.

    • … and if they don’t, or they’re prevented from doing so, they’ll end up as adult men who can be trapped in their room by a cat.

      • “Men”

        People who think a successful life is possible without force still have the minds of children.

        And that is why they want government to act the role of nanny/parent. They are not adults, but children in aged bodies.

      • Hey that cat was dangerous. It was really really angry and it was charging the door. It also has a history of violence. It scratched a baby. I mean, the baby didn’t need stitches or anything but it drew blood or at least red marks.

    • It’s call imagination and children need to exercise it in addition to creativity as they would their muscles. That type of play teaches children a number of life skills such as teamwork, problem solving, innovative use of objects, limits of ability (yup, they’ll get hurt and they’ll learn from that), etc.

    • Ya know, my wife (yeah, the one who makes fun of me for carrying a handgun, but always insisted that I go with my sons whenever they went to buy a car from some guy, and take my pistol with me) tried that “no weapons” biz when our boys were very small. It didn’t work. And oddly, we didn’t have a TV, didn’t go to movies, didn’t subscribe to a newspaper–kind of a mystery where they picked it up from. I had a gun or two, but hardly ever used them, it wasn’t from me most likely.

  2. Something tells me this guy is actually upset his kid won’t be following him into the world of fashion design. Not that there is anything wrong with that… 🙂

    Seriously, they can’t actually believe they can stop boys from being aggressive, or girls from being passive, by changing up their toys… Can they?

    • Yes they do. The end goal is to make every little moist robot EXACTLY the same, boy or girl.

      • Which in practice as it appears right now means making every little boy into a girl….and, the worse kind of manipulative, dependent girl at that.

        • Seems rather ironic that toy weaponry and strong, aggressive female persona is very popular for young girls now, brought about by fiction such as Hunger Games. Not only that, but the media embraces it, whereas they shun the same thing in boys.

        • “Divergent” too.

          Young girls taking up arms and becoming warriors is becoming a more and more popular theme.

          I am not against it, but it should not be frowned upon for boys to do the same. I sometimes feel that in our culture’s effort to challenge norms, we (collectively) push too hard and create new problems in the process.

    • Years ago, I had a coworker that was aghast that I would play punchbug with my kids when they were little – shoulder tapping or hollering punchbug; not the hard hitting kind adolescents play. Even after saying, “Yea, it’s just tapping or saying it, no biggie” this dude got all righteous saying “Well, in _my_ house, we play ‘Hug Bug’ because we don’t believe in violence in any form.” I just shook my head and felt bad for this two young sons and suspect “_my_ house” actually meant ‘Wife’.

      Marvin Milquetoast left the company a couple of months later for a cushy Gov’t job.

  3. Yes, we should put pretend weapons in our children’s hands. And we should put real ones in their hands as early as is reasonably safe to do so.

  4. The myth is compassion and patience will counter all aggression. As JeffR wrote above, I wish his son luck.

    • I wish his son luck right up until he is bullied…

      True story: Despite playing with guns etc as a little boy, I understood peace and love to trump all because that was what I was taught in school my whole life (as a child) and saw on movies/cartoons.

      …right up until I was picked on.

      I was tormented for almost a year before I had enough, punched the bully (a year or two older than me) in the stomach on the playground and kicked him while he cried on the ground.

      I had to go to the principal’s office – a fate I had previously tried to avoid at all costs. But you know what? It wasn’t the hell on earth I had envisioned.

      I learned 5 things from this experience as a 2nd grader:

      A. Fear of authority is often more powerful than the authority itself
      B. Sometimes violence IS the answer
      C. Adults, and by extension authority cannot do jack shit to protect you, much less change a disassociated culture
      D. Adults, and by extension the establishment (for lack of a better term) does NOT have all the answers regardless of what they claim
      E. I have to rely on myself

      It is interesting to look at what I learned from that experience, juxtapose it with my geekiness, and compare the result to other like minded people.

      It is highly interesting to me that so many other Libertarians grew up being picked on or in some other way got the same life lesson I did early in life.

      How many people don’t believe in self reliance simply because they never got shocked out of childhood fantasies?

      Kind of makes you think, huh?

      • +1000

        Excellently stated.

        Now, sadly think of all the children (boys AND girls) that are NOT learning those five lessons.

      • Excellent post!

        IMHO, we coddle children WAY too much these days. Look at recent stories on CNN Money and CNBC where one of the issues with Millenniums is that their freak’n parents are actually showing up on job interviews with their kids or parents are actually calling to find interviews for their kids.

        Also, I believe that facing adversity makes you stronger. Their is their myth that if we make everything cotton candy and pixy dust, that when the SHTF that someone who has never faced adversity will somehow be able to deal. True story, I was at dinner with a friend whose wife grew up in a pure drink the cool-aid liberal home complete sheltered. We jokingly asked, what would we do if there was a zombie apocalypse (in relation to the Walking Dead) and her answer was that she would kill herself. That should would not be able to cope. During the after math of storm Sandy, she actually packed up and left the state for three weeks because should could not deal with power being out and trees being down. She admitted she cannot deal with adversity.

        I just hope this man’s son does not get beat up too much by bully he will surely face.

        • That bully he will face is life, and sadly, yes, he will mostly likely get beaten up badly by said bully.

        • I had a similar conversation with a colleague. Harvard Law grad. Smart as hell. Works out like a fiend. Unlike a lot of my co-workers, he is somewhat handy and doesn’t call a repairman for every little thing that goes wrong in his house. Definitely not someone who I would consider soft. Yet, when asked what he would do in an extended WROL situation, he said he would kill himself. I couldn’t believe it. I just don’t understand that mindset.

        • The funny thing is that the will to live is a lot stronger than people think.

          A lot of people who claim they’d kill themselves if something truly terrible happened are (in my experience) actually the ones who’d toss aside their morality quickest in order to survive; usually by any means necessary.

          Just like Billy Bad Ass who always talks about combat while in the military is the first to freeze in an actual firefight, people who claim to be the most passive are often the most despicable and dangerous if pushed over the edge.

      • I tolerated my torment for much, much longer. In the end the basic lessons were the same. These days zero tolerance policies have made the repercussions for sticking up for yourself much more damaging. Punching the guy once who has been steeling your lunch money for 5 strait years gives you a criminal record now. In my opinion one of the major contributing factors driving students to be school shooters.

        What this guy fails to acknowledge is that sometimes force IS the best solution. Not always, but sometimes. Even when it is the best solution one should still try diplomacy but do not discount force as a perfectly correct course of action simply because it is force.

        • Yes, zero tolerance = zero brains.

          In highschool a guy who didn’t like something I had said in class jumped me on the stairs from behind. Sucker punch. Super brave.

          I was still able to subdue him (I was a wrestler and martial artist) and had a heart to heart with him while his head was pressed to the concrete. We still weren’t friends, but I was able to let him up and let him go without either of us too jacked up. That’s a win in my book.

          However, since there was a “fight”, even though neither of us were hurt very bad, even though he started it, FROM BEHIND, we both got suspended.

          The only time I’ve ever heard of someone in today’s modern schools not being suspended for fighting is if they passively take it – as in not fighting back.

          The wild thing about that is that it’s not a fight, and is classified as “bullying”, in which case nothing is done usually at all.

          So nowadays if you’re a kid, you’re damned not matter what you do if some other kid decides to be an asshole to you. Awesome.

      • Hear, Hear. If I meet you IRL I would probably buy you a beverage of your choice for saying that.

        I endured my torment longer, one day I broke the nose of one and another day I did something that got me suspended when I got jumped by three.

        Felt amazing to stand up in the morning because I wanted to. I learnt the same things as you, don’t trust/expect people to help you out and violence is the only solution regarding some people,

      • When I got sent to the officer for a similar thing I found that they knew exactly what was going on and were probably secretly happy to see the shmuck crying while I acted like an adult about it…

  5. There is something extremely unsettling when so many people advocate for a stronger more militarized police force, defend domestic spying on all us citizens, and teaching kids to be as soft and submissive as possible. This is not taking us in a good direction.

    • The gun and film industries both encourage a vision of apocalyptic horror that involves bandaged zombies.

      History teaches us that TEOTWAWKI usually features a ‘living dead’ wearing uniforms and following the guidon of some political or religious entity.

      The exception to that, of course, is occasionally the onslaught of what Martin Luther called “the murderous hoards of thieving peasants,” who periodically rebelled against low income, food shortages, and the incessant abuses imposed by the “Barons’ knights” of the day.


      • It certainly makes sense. The fashion and film industries are the playground of the sheltered, monied elite; ever flirtatious with the ideals and aesthetics of aristocracy. These are not the institutions to provide a vision of fair-minded civic culture.

    • Bend her legs to form a handle and use her body as the barrel. I’ve seen my granddaughters do it to counter my grandsons attempts to rob them or shoot them with his toy gun. Apparently my granddaughters aren’t as passive as some girls.

      Especially not the 2 I;ve raised.

      • Because his dad wouldn’t give him a toy gun, of course.

        Which leads back to the other comments re boys will be boys.

        • That’s really great, eh? He’s already encouraged his son to abuse women, twisting them to his will.

        • And girls will be girls…even when they like guns. A person who likes guns will like guns, and that is an excellent time to take them to the range and teach them a healthy respect for firearms, not chastise them into being gutless, soulless worms.

      • I am not ashamed to admit that there was exactly 1 Barbie in our house (all boys) growing up. A 12″ G.I. Joe isn’t much good if there isn’t a damsel to rescue on occasion.

        • hahahahaha Glad to see a 12 inch Joe comment, never thought about having a damsel to save as a kid haha.
          Ive been saving Snake Eyes, the WW2 Infantryman and Patton for my kids to play with some day 🙂

        • Now that’s fascinating–My boys got heavy into that “action figure” biz for awhile, GI Joe, Soldiers of the World, no-name knock-offs–Never thought anything about a damsel to rescue. I never thought about it either, back in my day (that was with the little green plastic soldiers, when GI Joe first came out we all snubbed him as a “doll”…)

  6. While the soft targets get dragged away to the camps it gives the ones willing to fight back more time to get out of dodge and set up resistance.
    Let them go, they would be the useless whiners in a fight who break down and cry whenever they are forced to actually defend themselves.

    • I call those “meat-shields”. Once the human body goes full fetal position, it becomes very stackable. Useless crying wimps make excellent mobile cover.

      • I lol’ed! I tend to think of them as ‘mules’; someone has to carry all my tacticool stuff, ammo, food and water cause it’s sure not going to hump itself.

  7. I’m wondering if there is any research to show kids who play with toy guns have a higher chance of becoming violent in the future? I also want to see the research these people are using to come up with this idea of gender neutral rearing. Is there a benefit to the child? Or is it just making some parent feel good about their parenting practice? Time to hit the Google machine.

    • The research is all around us.

      Not all learning (in fact very little) comes from “controlled studies.”

      The demasculation of our culture is reaping its benefits in that a guy can post something like the Quote of the Day drivel with a straight face AND someone that owns a web site thinks it is marketable.

      Can you imagine those statements being made in what amounts to a popular newspaper in 1940 America?

      It boggles the mind.

    • Isn’t it the boys denied toy guns and parental encouragement to play ‘war’ and ‘cops’ in groups, to socialize their budding urge to be assertive, to learn to be part of the group balancing self and others’ interests, that end up violent?

      Having had a hoard of little kids in and out of my house for a decade, I never saw a little boy play dolls or push a toy baby carriage. I never saw any of the little girls turn sticks into machine guns. And it’s a good thing, too, because if it were otherwise there wouldn’t be a next generation.

      • I’ll disagree with one point: I HAVE seen girls turn sticks into machine guns and get in there and play ‘cops an robbers’ or ‘war’ with the best of the boys.

        That was true growing up 40 years ago and I see it now….when it’s not stopped by some PC ‘thinker.’

        My son and daughter have some doozy lego wars with complicated strategies and the like. Both like to shoot real guns as well, and they both do chores to earn ammo.

      • Science fiction novel, “Hell’s Pavement” by Damon Knight. People with antisocial behavioral issues (say, a kleptomaniac or a pedophile) are given an “analogue”, a figure from their past, like a teacher or aunt or policeman who appears to them when they are about to do their bad thing and prevents them from doing it. But since the problem is not dealt with, just suppressed, it breaks out in another way. The only one I recall is that an artist goes blind (psychosomatically, presumably), but all kinds of other bad stuff happens. Seems like Mr Andestic is heading his boy in that direction.

  8. Ha! This guy has no idea…
    @thebear: dude I was exactly the same way. I socked a kid in the nose in 3rd grade for stealing my lunchbox (not my fault he didn’t have a godzilla lunch box) and learned the same things you did.

  9. I don’t put pretend guns in my children’s hands. I teach them how to use and respect real ones.

  10. Geez, you’d think we didn’t evolve from pack-like omnivore scavenger/opportunistic predators or something.

    It’s literally built in. I suwpect you’d get better results acknowledging it and training people how to deal with the impulses, rather than trying to repress it and hope nobody goes “pop.”

    • +1. Denying what we are rather than acknowledging it and preparing our offspring to deal with it is a recipe for disaster (or at least a lifetime of emotional upset).

    • They say we evolved as team hunters, co-operating like more clever wolves to attain group goals like food and territory. (Chimps do both.) Primitive hunting/fighting bands develop by cohort, and from ages 12-13 to 18 boys need to work their way to belonging to their “agression” cohort, to some ability to be obviously useful to their nearby cohort.

      We can’t possibly stop that passage without ill effects, though the cohort may be academic. If you think academics don’t wage wars and hunt for funding and tenure in packs, you’re not an academic.

  11. I’m doing the opposite. I’m raising my daughter to embrace all of the things boys like to do. Mind you, I don’t force it on her but there’s no reason she can’t have fun with activities that many would classify as something boys do with their father. As far as the notion that females are passive, try growing up in a house with your Italian Grandmother, mother and three sisters.

    • Females in general are not passive, but there is a subset of them who are both passive (manipulated) and manipulative.

      And for some reason, this is the subset that has become the “standard” to which we should all strive.

    • As far as the notion that females are passive, try growing up in a house with your Italian Grandmother, mother and three sisters.

      Bob, I did grow up in such a house.

      My parents forced us to learn both of their trades. My mother taught me how to cook and because she was a tailor I also learned to sew as I was required to work in tailor shop and be able to fit and hem. My father was mason and general contractor. My sisters can all tile their own bathrooms and one of my sisters became a muscle car junky. We all went to college and have white collar jobs but there was no limits placed in terms of “women can only do this” and “men can only do that” My parents considered everything they taught us as life skills — that included teaching all of us to hunt and skin our catch. All of my sisters where not big into going into the woods but to this day they still love to fish and one will still go rabbit hunting.

      I am not a believer in limiting children but they should definitely not be forced. I see the things my sisters where “forced” to do, they no longer want anything to do with.

  12. +1 TheBear. My 2 youngest sons had the same problem. They both stood up for themselves with much encouragement from dad & mom. This a###!!# is an unfit parent. Myth? Barbie doll!?! Yikes.

  13. Just because you don’t want violence doesn’t mean it does want you. Sorry, the use of over whelming force rules the world whether you want it to or not.

    Wanting peace is not the answer. Making peace is not the answer. Re-enforcing peace with the force of arms is.

    The only reason this tool can make these statement is he lives in a country with the greatest ability to use the greatest amount of force. He can not make this case in most of the world or he’d be food for something else.

    • Agree. Most people are blind to the role the threat of organized violence plays in everyday American or Euro life. I’d imagine that in a city like SF or NYC, one with few legal guns….that if the armed police were absent from the streets it would be like “Gangs of New York” in a few days. Which means it is the guns of the state, and the extended-gun of prisons, that enforces order.

      I’d much prefer that that order resulted from a widely dispersed law-abiding public’s ownership of guns. It’s more efficient and poses less risk of state-gone-totalitarian. You?

  14. Patience and compassion aren’t exactly ideal when you are dealing with a firearm leveled at your face. For those who choose to take their personal safety and that of their loved ones seriously, it becomes very evident that owning and being skilled with firearms is an important tool. For those who refuse to acknowledge the dangers that exist around them and the necessity of armed self defense sometimes a serious threat will help them come to find their “ballistics Jesus” as I like to call it. Sadly, if the encounter goes the wrong way they will not live long enough to change their ways. Part of me is saddened at this, basically the inverse of libs waving the bloody shirty at mass shootings, it pains me to see a life cut short by malice in a situation where being armed would have saved the good guy. However, the social darwinist in me wants to chalk this up to natural selection.

  15. @TheBear. My son had a similar, if milder experience. In grade school he had a kid on the bus hassling him and bullying him. My instructions to him after I learned about it were: If the kid starts something again, deck him. You can’t start a fight, but if he does, you finish it. We’ll drive you to school and back if you get tossed off the bus. Fight never happed, as the bully backed off once he met resistance, as bullies often do. Now my son is 22 yrs. old and owns a Beretta PX4 storm in 9mm, a S&W AR15 and a CCW. His older sister owns a Springfield XD in 9mm, an LCP and a Walther PPK/S (had to have the “James Bond” gun), along with her CCW. Trying to do my part with the next generation.

  16. I love how when TTAG posts an anti-gun article, the brain trust of posters goes over to whatever website and blazes up the comment section with logic-based arguments.

    • HuffPo’s memory hole division must be working overtime. I see 4 comments, one of which is the author.

    • It is great.

      The anti-gun threads at HuffPo are usually swamped by pro-gun rights people. I used to spend a lot of time on those threads there until I was banned, for no apparent reason. I hope they don’t start banning all the pro-gun people as they did me.

  17. I’m all for patience, compassion, and peaceful resolution. The trick is to get the other guy to use them.

  18. NO ONE BELIEVES THAT FORCE IS THE BEST OPTION! NO ONE ON THE pro gun rights side wants a gun so they can immediately resort to unnecessary force. Guns are a last resort that bad guys can force us to employ, and in those situations not having a gun means a productive member of society dies, and a thud is rewarded for thuggery.

    I’m tired of these idiots arguing against their fantasy caricature of us and deliberately refusing to educate themselves about the issue, the relevant data, and what their opposition actually believes.

  19. Hmmm… patience and compassion… isn’t that the approach the Jews used to avert the Holocaust?

    • I know that’s what Mahatma Gandhi told them to do, and that’s why today history remembers Gandhi as the hero who ended World War II and delivered the Jews of Europe from the Nazis’ horrific pogrom.

      Oh, wait; I just looked in a book, and turns out it was a whole bunch of guys with guns and bombs who really did that. Sorry, Gandhi, but peaceful, compassionate resistance only works when your enemies aren’t genocidal madmen. Somebody should tell this Marty Feldman-esque creep to try looking in a book sometime, too.

  20. I don’t know what t.v. shows he been watching, where unilateral force is portrayed as the best solution. Of the top ten shows on the air now, excluding editions of “The Voice”, “Dancing with the Stars” and “60 Minutes”, all of the top shows are crime shows where the good guys defeat bad guys who use force. Soooo…..

    Movies? Virtually all of 2013’s top ten grossing movies were fantasy films where, you guessed it, the good guys defeat bad guys who use force. And they’re mostly cartoons and super heros, not exactly analogs for the real world. I’ll give you “Fast and Furious 6”, because I haven’t seen it, but from earlier ones I have seen, everyone uses guns and nobody seems all that lily white.

    All that aside, initiating force to solve problems comes down to decisions: decisions about what situations you place yourself in, and decisions about how to resolve them. Lawful firearms owners, as a group, consistently make the best decisions about use of force and the stats prove it out. They rarely initiate force and they regularly avoid situations that might require self-defense. Force initiators are criminals and that’s their choice.

    They prefer to engage in violence because it’s a shortcut to respect and prosperity, or so they think. That’s a miscalculation on their part, but it has nothing to do with movies, t.v., firearms, or any other inanimate object. It’s simply their poor decision. Continuing to scapegoat nonfactors and escape responsibility only perpetuates those poor decisions.

  21. Certain behaviors and preferences are specific and inherent to each of the sexes.
    I don’t need to be a specialist in the neurological basis of behavior or a parent of boys and a girl to recognize this.
    The sexes are not the same and you cannot “mold” kids to become what we want them to be when that is against their DNA.
    One cannot argue that people are born gay (and that this is an immutable trait) or that being raised by a same sex couple will not ‘turn’ a kid gay and then turn around think you can condition away certain sex-specific traits, preferences and behaviors.

  22. You don’t have to fight to be a man, but sometimes you have to fight when you’re a man.

  23. There is no argument more persuasive than force, with the threat of force following closely on its heals. This is as true on the micro scale as it is on the macro scale. Negotiation is an effective tool when interests align or each has something the other wants, but it is only force that ends the disagreement when negotiations fail. But even then, use of force must be balanced, proportionate. The use of overwhelming force when unnecessary begets retaliation. All this our children must learn.

    • That’s newspeak gobbledygook. Force is persuasion? No. A shade removed from volition, persuasion is nearly the opposite of force. Balanced and proportionate force? In relation to what, exactly?

      Nobody has the legitimate personal right to initiate force against anyone else. You want something of mine? That’s great. Let’s negotiate something of mine for something of yours. I do it all day every day like billions of others. You want to skip that and take it by force? Buddy, you’re going to find out what force is all about. Spoiler alert: it looks, sounds and feels nothing like persuasion.

  24. The message seems to be, “If you deny your boys toy guns, they will make guns out of the Barbies you buy for them…”

  25. My sons were initially kept from all influences of guns. When my 2nd was 5 and came in from the other room with a cookie he bit into the shape of a pistol my wife knew the jig was up. Boys will be boys you can’t keep them from it.

  26. While I’ll agree with Andrew that force isn’t the best solution, what he clearly fails (or conveniently refuses) to realize is that 1.) in some circumstances force literally is the only expedient resolution to a conflict (whether he thinks so or not is irrelevant because these situations do in fact exist and are completely outside of our control) and 2.) we, the Armed Intelligentsia, also know that force isn’t the only solution and that we too employ deescalation techniques whenever possible.

    • Force, threatened, can prevent violence. This is why cash in transit robberies are rare in countries with armed guards, but more common than anywhere else in the UK. And the use of lethal force can prevent more deaths. The NATO bombing of Kosovo stopped an ethnic cleansing in its tracks. Attacking the Nazis when they invaded the Sudetenland would have resulted in thousands of casualties, not the 60M by the end of WW II. And judicious use of force is probably needed to deal with Vladimir Putin.

  27. I grew up sparing with my brother an dad an the rest of the neighborhood boys. My uncle who was a fed often sparred with me as well. Yeah we knocked some holes in the wall but it was all in good fun. I think it’s side some boys are prevented from doing what boys do which is fight and generally rec havoc wherever they go.

    I will say this when my neighbors 20 year old son approached me and asked what my loadout was because he was building a airsoft replica of it. He wasn’t happy when I told him no se habla

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