I have been here for weeks. After a brief hiatus due to somewhat not-planned parenthood (Let's hear a hearty welcome for little baby Restless Chicano), I am back with some comments generated by a brief, off-KP discussion on kids and guns. To get everyone up to speed, Aztec's children (all less than 10) received a veritable arsenal of Nerf weaponry from Jolly Old St Nick. They are currently delighting in SWAT-like special ops involving taking or holding the 3rd floor playroom in idyllic Inner Suburbia. Your correspondent fired off a 3/4 joking scolding to Aztec for introducing his children to firearms, if only in Nerf form.
After some to-ing and fro-ing, I thought I'd post a quick summary of my thoughts on this matter, which are summed up by not having toy guns in the house and expressing my dislike for guns in general to my children, contemporaries of Aztec's.
Yes, they will use other items to represent guns. Partially eaten peanut butter sandwiches make a nice Glock. The vacuum cleaner extensions make a pretty solid shotgun or rifle. I frown on this at home and I do draw the line at pointing them at people. That's where I actually get a little conflicted with the Nerf stuff. I recognize the sheer joy associated with drawing a bead on your older brother and then pulling the trigger while squealing in delight like a feral pig. I just find it creepy and potentially not healthy.
I know I am on the wrong side of the Ruby Ridgers and, more normally, hunters in general, but I really see no reason for anyone to have a sidedarm who is not a cop or a soldier/sailor/marine/flyboy. I know we were all worried about the British taking our guns in the late 1770's. I just honestly don't think we can get to that point in this country (and if Bush couldn't pull off a constitutional putsch, then no one can). I also saw and loved Red Dawn. Seems pretty far-fetched these days, though. I frankly see very little need to hunt, but I am willing to pass on this one and defer to this tradition and the alleged bonds it forms. Hunting with guns, unless I have been misled, is almost always done with single-shot rifles and shotguns, so I suppose we can keep those around.
I firmly believe that the damage our current obsession/legislation with guns does is really awful. To a point made by VooDoo, while knives and swords are certainly a bit bloodier and gorier, I think there are a couple of important distinctions:
1) You want to cut someone you have to get up close and personal (unless you have crazy Ninja skills and can throw a knife with some degree of accuracy across a room). Guns take away the immediacy of the act. You can't tell me that a guy flying a B-2 has the same experience killing people as a guy with an M-16 on the ground. Likewise, the ease and impersonal nature of pulling a trigger makes it seem a bit easier to me to do so. I am admittedly guessing here, having neither shot nor stabbed anyone ever, though not for want of impulse. Waiting periods seem pretty reasonable. Remember Homer: "But I need a gun NOW!"
2) It would be pretty tough to walk into Columbine and kill dozens with a knife or sword (the latter of which, I am almost certain, is much harder to acquire than a gun). While you'd likely get one or two kills in, which is no less tragic for the victims and their families, the sheer numbers go way down. I also have to think that the physical act of slashing someone might have shocked even those kids and they may have stopped much quicker (see Point 1).
3) Knives have plenty of practical purposes outside of killing or maiming. Like picking one's teeth. Try that with a Sig Sauer. Whoa, boy.
At the end of the day, I am really just trying to instill in my children the same East Coast liberal egg-head ideas about guns my mother instilled in me. Recognize their utility (fighting wars, providing protein-based food if the supermarket somehow disappeared) and recognize the toll that these take on a society that has come to regard life so cheaply that drive-bys in the hood no longer make the evening news.
As a provocative corollary here, I find it somehow odd that the majority of right-to-lifers probably also support the 2nd Ammendment and the death penalty, while the NARAL-types generally loath guns and the death penalty. Far be it from me to give the Vatican anything that could remotely pass for praise, but they are at least consistent with their "seamless garment" approach.