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Finger-gun kids suspended

Should games involving mock shooting and guns be banned?

kid with water pistol

Image: via Shutterstock

In what seems to be a case of “boys will be boys, but rules are rules”, two 6-year-old boys were suspended from school for pretending their fingers were guns and play-shooting, according to NY Daily News. The boys’ parents have reacted to the suspensions with disgust, calling the punishment excessive, suggesting that teachers should rather have used the incident to educate the boys and their classmates about inappropriate behaviour.

No more toy guns?

Schools and parents in the US are understandably jittery in the aftermath of several shooting incidents, including mass killings at schools, and the availability of firearms is a hot topic. In SA, deaths as a result of gunshot wounds are common enough for locals to join in that same debate. Few would trivialise the gravity of the problem. One question which many parents are asking themselves, though, is "should my child be playing with toy guns?".

Most toy shops and even supermarkets carry a range of toy guns. Some are garishly colourful waterpistols, others replicas of genuine makes of firearms. There are pellet guns, potato guns and cap guns. There are even pink guns "for girls" and little plastic assault rifles. Toy guns appear to be central to the childhood of many kids.

Some parents are completely opposed to guns forming part of play, though. Given that your child may come across a real weapon which has been left unsecured at a friend's house or even at school and attempt to play with it, this opposal is understandable. Gun owners, however, respond that the issue is responsibility and the right to self-protection. Yet another twist in the debate is the portrayal of gun-based violence in movies and video games, and the theory that this can mislead children into underestimating the dangers of handling weapons.

The days of cowboys and indians and cops and robbers games seem numbered- society is painfully aware of the reality of violence- but does playing with a toy gun as a child have any impact on the development of the child? What do you think?

Should toy guns be banned?
By: Scott Dunlop

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