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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Raising Sons and the gun question

   Yesterday I had a conversation with a person about the Colorado shootings and the question of what it is about boys that cause them to commit an act like this.  This person is raising sons and they indicated that they forbid their boys from having any type of toy guns--even water guns.  The feeling was that sometimes boys can't disconnect play violence from real violence.  While it is difficult to draw a direct connection from play with toy guns and violent video games to adult violence it is something that parents of boys have to address in some fashion.  This issue has always been with us but somehow the cowboy violence of the past was not linked with the violence that occurred in the 1950's.  Twenty four hour news has made these issues covered to a much greater extent.

   In searching around for some blogger reaction to this question I came across a Scary Mommy blog on just this question.  If you haven't read this Baltimore blogger before you have missed a great blog.
Quoting from her blog on boys and guns and her efforts to address this issue,

 "....I held out for three years, finally caving one summer with a small water gun for our local pool. It turned out to be the gateway gun, leading to a basket full of nerf guns and bullets and even targets. We became that house, that I swore we never would. These days, not an evening goes by that my kids aren’t chasing one another around the house, shooting and hiding and fake dying.
After hearing about the sickening Colorado shooting, killing at least 12 people early this morning, I am tempted (once again) to collect every last gun toy in the house and trash them, resurrecting that abandoned rule of mine. Two piece bathing suits are one thing, but how did I manage to cave on something as important as guns? How did I let shooting become a game?"

      "I realize that children with toy guns aren’t doing the killing, but allowing kids to view guns as toys can’t be a good thing, either. Then again, knowing my boys, they’ll end up simply turning innocent items like spoons and wands into weapons, anyway. So, what’s the answer? I know one thing for sure: I’m not going to want my kids running around shooting tonight."

    This story is similar to another mother's story by Kristin Howerton in the Huffington Post section on parenting.

" my dreams of motherhood, our home would be free of toys that represent weapons. My oldest was a boy -- but I imagined that somehow, with careful guidance, I could free him from the gender expectations that give way to a desire for violent objects. Unfortunately, no one warned me that a predilection for destruction seems to be coded in the DNA. Despite the fact that I've provided my son Jafta with a playroom full of peaceful, docile toys, he seems to be drawn only to things that produce explosions, loud noises, or (best yet) wounds of the flesh. He was begging for a sword by the time he could talk. Once he got wind of this light-saber business, everything in the house (paper towel roll, umbrella, drumstick) was brandished as a light-saber. And now, despite the fact that he's never seen a movie much darker than "Stuart Little," he is totally and utterly obsessed with guns."

     Somehow my takeaway from the articles is that boys will be drawn to more aggressive forms of play than girls but it might need to be tempered with parental instruction on the reality of violence.  And that this instruction coming from a father is probably doubly important.

From the AP:

    "Firearms sales are surging in the wake of the Colorado movie theater massacre as buyers express fears that anti-gun politicians may use the shootings to seek new restrictions on owning weapons. In Colorado, the site of Friday's shooting that killed 12 and injured dozens of others, gun sales jumped in the three days that followed. The state approved background checks for 2,887 people who wanted to purchase a firearm - 25 percent more than the average Friday to Sunday period in 2012 and 43 percent more than the same interval the week prior."

    "Dick Rutan, owner of Gunners Den in suburban Arvada, Colo., said requests for concealed-weapon training certification "are off the hook." His four-hour course in gun safety, required for certification for a concealed-weapons permit in Colorado, has drawn double the interest since Friday. What they're saying is: They want to have a chance. They want to have the ability to protect themselves and their families if they are in a situation like what happened in the movie theater," Rutan said."

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