Gun Violence: Is There a Link to Childhood Toy Guns?

Good Guy Junie and Good Gal Margaret Playing "Guns"

Good Guy Junie and Good Gal Margaret Playing “Guns”

If I tried to come up with the most complex and controversial topic among pro and anti-gun folks, this article title would be it. That is not my intent, but rather I want to try to sincerely simplify, condense, and understand the pros and cons and what today’s professionals believe about the direct relationship between playing with toy guns and the adulthood tendency toward violence. My definition of “playing with toy guns” refers to playing imaginary army, cowboys and indians, cops and robbers, good guys-bad guys, etc. as a young child. Are toy guns a bad influence on young children? Does playing with guns as a child have a definite cause-and-effect association and long-term strong influence on children for violence and aggression? Should kids play with toy guns or even be exposed to them? What do the psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, researchers, and medical professionals believe and why? What can and should we as a moral and righteous society and parents do? What is an acceptable approach for toy guns? Should we have no-tolerance toy gun laws and school rules not allowing anything even similar to a gun to be present? Should we take time, money, and effort, like three states have done in the last few months, to introduce bills to get lenient laws against existing too strict, non-tolerant toy guns rules and laws? What follows are some facts, professional opinions, and my opinions and conclusions purely to help you think about this and make your own decisions. Now this is an emotional issue, so you and I should try to remain calm and rational.

I must fully disclose that I did play with toy guns when I was about age 6 through 10. I was proud of my western-style Roy Rogers’ six-shooter cap gun and my water pistol and spent a lot of time pretending and imaging I was the hero and good guy to overcome the bad guy and evil. Back then, I even respected Roy for just shooting the bad guy in the arm and not being overly aggressive, even though I knew he was a crack shot. Sometimes I was Superman to deal with Lex Luthor and sometimes Batman to handle The Penguin. Whether or not I am presently of sound mind, fully in control of my behaviors, have positive values, and prone to violence and criminal aggression is presently under assessment by my family. Not the courts or psychiatrists I might add. Understand I did not feel persecuted, misunderstood, nor did I aggressively kick my dog. I would like to begin with my list of the recent “Top 10 Ridiculous Toy Gun Events” (not fully verified) that caused this topic to come to mind:

  1. Sam, a 7-year-old boy brought a toy plastic gun to school in his book bag (and never took it out) in Florida; the zero-tolerance school gun policy kicked in, Sam was suspended, and then mandatorily expelled from school for a year (punishment is pending about another year’s extension);
  2. Joey, a 9-year-old boy received a 3-day suspension from a Rhode Island school, after a key chain with a toy gun roughly 2 inches long fell out of his schoolbag in class;
  3. Josh, a 6-year-old was suspended for two-days from a Maryland elementary school when the strawberry tart he was eating and trying to turn into the shape of a mountain looked like a gun; the boy said he didn’t mean to make his food look like a gun;

    Strawberry Tart pastry Shaped-Like-Gun Picture from Huffington Post

    Strawberry Tart pastry Shaped-Like-Gun Picture from Huffington Post

  4. A 5-year-old boy turned and moved his hand into the shape of a gun and gestured with his hand while playing on the playground in North Carolina and was suspended from school;
  5. A 6-year-old boy was suspended in Massachusetts over a toy plastic gun about the “size of a quarter” for causing a “disturbance” and “traumatizing” other students by bringing it on the school bus in 2013; he had to write a letter of apology, according to TownHall.com;

    Quarter-Sized Plastic Toy Gun Picture from Townhall.com

    Quarter-Sized Plastic Toy Gun Picture from Townhall.com

  6. A young boy in New York “talked” to two of his classmates about going to another boy’s house with a water gun and BB gun and the school officials called the police and the father’s concealed carry permit was revoked;
  7. A 5-year-old girl in Pennsylvania was suspended for 10 days and reportedly labeled a “terrorist threat” for threatening to shoot her friend with a toy pink Hello Kitty bubble gun that spits bubbles, while waiting for her school bus and she did not have the fake gun with her, according to Associated Press reports;
  8. A student under the age of 11 brought a pocket knife with a 2″ blade to school and was immediately expelled in Louisiana;
  9. Several young students got permission from their teachers to bring toy NERF guns to school as part of a scientific experiment in a Washington classroom; those who brought toy guns to school and all the children who were present were suspended by the administrator, while the teachers were unpunished;
  10. A sixth-grade boy in Maryland was suspended from school for 10 days for saying the word “gun” when talking with his friends on a school bus; he said he wished he had a gun to stop the bad guys; his father received a visit from the police who wanted to search his house; and the crazy events go on and on.

These incidents are not normal to me and seem to be the over reaction of well meaning administrators who are incredibly sensitive due to recent incidents of mass homicides in schools. As a former university dean and professor, student adviser, industrial human relations manager, military teacher and provost, and present NRA instructor, I certainly have dealt with my share of behavioral and student issues and discipline. There were instances of cheating on exams, real and imagined bullying, a lack of parental involvement, student/teacher conflicts, teacher/parent clashes, theft, workers’ comp fraud, and more. One thing I luckily never had to face was the potential suspension of a young student for making a toy gun out of materials in art class or a pastry, or using his or her hand as a pretend gun during recess. Did or will these kids turn into hardened violent criminals because of their pretend guns and games and imaginary enemies and friends? The recent harsh discipine, suspension, and expulsion approach and trend because of the possible dangerous long-term derogatory results of toy guns are ridiculous albeit common. What are we to do in our society and in our families about real and toy guns, the gun control division and controversy, and how can the “experts” help us, before we totally self-destruct?

This is my opinion about some of the factors at work today. As much as I want to be objective and omit political views, I do honestly believe there is a heated battle and gridlock now between the Right conservatives and the Left liberals about gun control. This has influenced the “no tolerance” toy gun or any gun policies that harshly punish children for wielding imaginary fake weapons, as well as adults. Recognize that no one is killed or injured by these toy guns and no crimes are committed by innocent young kids pretending to play with guns and get the bad guy. Maybe children are being persecuted for their imagination, natural aggressiveness, and creativity. Maybe the real concern is our societal values, priorities, philosophies, the teachers and school administrators and boards that allow these ridiculous punishments to happen, and the parents without a long-term vision and with their head in the sand about genuine evil that sadly does exist. It is not the tool or gun, but the individual that has uncontrolled violent thoughts and tendencies and does the evil with the tool. What role does mental health play? Maybe our goals and priorities are misaligned toward the short-term, rather than toward the long-run big picture. Is it a natural predisposition for kids to play with guns and express aggression, anger, and violence?

Kids Playing Cowboy and Indian... and horse

Kids Playing Cowboy and Indian… and horse – Photo credit dhjewkes

What the Experts Say

One of the experts is Dr. Joshua Weiner, an Arlington, VA-based psychiatrist who specializes in children and adolescents. He says this about little boys being predisposed to gun play. “All one needs to do is look around to see that a connection exists.” Weiner says “This connection is likely—like most things—a combination of genetics and environment.” In today’s society, it is difficult to shield a child from “expressions of violence,” whether they come from television shows, video games or even older siblings and friends, Weiner notes. “Boys are likely predisposed to respond and probably have some yet-unknown gene which contributes to this behavior,” he adds. “Think about men being the hunter/gatherer and needing to kill for food and to protect their family,” he says.
Still, identifying and accepting this aggression in boys doesn’t make it any easier for parents and society.

Kids Playing Cops and Bad Guy (Dog)

Kids Playing Cops and Bad Guy (Dog) – Photo credit costumeworks

Some worry that playing with guns as a child desensitizes kids to violence, but research does not support this. Researchers, like Dr. Jay Mechling at the University of California, say it can actually help teach children to read each other’s facial cues and body language, figure out their place in a group, and learn how to adjust their behavior socially. Remember, when kids are playing with toy guns they do so within a play frame they have created and for them a shooting is not a real shooting, but imaginary. Mechling says through the mind of a child, their gun play is fun play and not violence as adults see it. Imaginary play fosters self-regulation, creativity, and expression which is essential for success. Dr. Michael Thompson, child psychologist says “Everyone has an informal causation theory that playing with guns leads to the use of guns in adulthood, yet most adult men who did engage in gun play as children do not commit violent crimes.”

Most Young Boys Love to Play "Army" with Toy Guns

Most Young Boys Love to Play “Army” with Toy Guns – Photo Credit rblaminus3

Other child experts say there is no research or data that proves a child who plays with toy guns will grow up to be a violent adult who might pull off a tragic scenario like the one in Connecticut. Dr. Daniel Stauber of Community Psychological Consultants in Indiana says “It all depends on the child. There is nothing inherently good or bad about kids playing with toy guns.” Guns aren’t the problem… people are. If you teach your children a respect for life and others, and instill Christian values, then fake guns are only toys to kids at a young age. It is not a gun that objectifies a human life, it is the person whose needs come in front of the life and needs of others. Directly or indirectly blaming children’s toy-gun play distracts from the genuine, top-priority and complex issues of societal treatment of mental illness, drug abuse, enforcement of existing laws, and gun control, etc. for us as adults.

Psychiatrists say that violent people typically display warning signs that include such behavior as cruelty to animals, extreme isolation and rejection, and a feeling of being persecuted and misunderstood. Experts say that pretend weapons or imaginary good and bad guys play by kids brings the opposite. It’s social, cooperative, and part of developing morality and dealing with conflict. Children recognize that weapons hold power and they explore this power and fears in their safe play world at a young age. So as a society and as parents, it is our job to help kids cope with their honest and innate emotions and deal positively with conflict and creativity, while creating an open, honest, understanding, and encouraging environment. Fantasy play is healthy and we should not censor or criticize it because we as adults imagine it as reality. To deal positively with anger, appropriately express their emotions, and effectively resolve conflict without hitting another or shooting them in adulthood. What a challenge in today’s world! We certainly cannot reform the world through censoring our children’s play and limiting their exploration. Under our close monitoring and tutelage, we must permit them to explore reality. They must know the difference between the real world as it exists now, with its good AND bad, the difference between a real gun and a toy gun, and how to control their anger and resolve conflict.

Dr. Lucy Daniels, a clinical psychologist, established her Foundation dedicated to fostering emotional and creative freedom of children through education and psychoanalytic treatment and research. She made it clear that children’s mental health is the most important aspect of any child’s social and cognitive development. She says that some “parents do not want their child to view weapons as playthings and consider prohibiting their child from using toy weapons. But, parents can utilize an understanding of the meaning of aggression and violence for young children to guide their opinions about the use of weapons as playthings.” She added that “all children possess aggressive feelings and wishes to disconnect, hurt, retaliate, and take from others… to respond with angry feelings and aggressive thoughts to emotional or physical distress. Boys generally have stronger aggressive responses than do girls.” Dr. Daniels emphasized that young children “need an environment in which aggression between people is kept within appropriate bounds and disagreements reach satisfactory resolutions in order to successfully master their aggressive tendencies.” She summarized by saying that we should become concerned about children’s relationship to aggression “only if they appear to be overly pre-occupied with aggression in their thoughts or actions outside the sphere of play, or if the play aggression (e.g. use of toy guns) has an extremely violent or gruesome character.” She recommends that parents “comfortably accept their children’s aggressive play as a suitable arena for a contained and controlled expression of aggressive feelings… with a clear and firm expectation that children keep any hurtful aggressions within their thoughts and play and outside real relationships.” So I guess all is not lost for me… and us. By the way that’s me Junie (I’m a Junior) in the first picture as a 9-year-old kid playing guns with my grandmother and our toy guns.

Well, there are some ideas for you to think about. What are your thoughts about the relationship between kids playing with toy guns and adult violence with guns?

Continued success!

Photos by author & others as indicated.
* This personal opinion article is meant for general information & educational purposes only and the author strongly recommends that you seek counsel from an attorney in your state or jurisdiction for legal advice and your own personal certified weapons trainer for proper guidance about shooting & using YOUR firearms, self-defense, stand your ground law, and concealed carry. This is not legal advice and not legal opinions. It should not be relied upon as accurate for all shooters & the author assumes no responsibility for anyone’s use of the information and shall not be liable for any improper or incorrect use of the information or any damages or injuries incurred whatsoever.
© 2014 Col Benjamin Findley. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reprinted or reproduced in whole or in part by mechanical means, photocopying, electronic reproduction, scanning, or any other means without prior written permission. For copyright information, contact Col Ben Findley at [email protected]

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  • antiliberalcryptonite

    Nope, no link. But there is a link to being a self-loathing, sküm-sucking liberal and killing people. Liberals are depressed, have low self-esteem, hate themselves, and thereby they hate anyone who is happier than they are (which is practically Everyone). Notice how they kill several people and then end up killing themselves after realizing that they’ve made an even bigger mess of their lives. That, and the fact that they are too wimpy to take responsibility for their actions, so they take the easy way out. Would have been better for them to do us all a favor and kill themselves BEFORE they start killing others.

    • Steve Harmon

      Perfectly stated. Thumbs up!!

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        • Steve Harmon

          WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Way cool!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’ll get right on that!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanx!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • ChristCrusader

      Add to that, the pharmaceuticals!
      My suspicion is that these drug companies are getting away with accessory to murder.

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  • Cobrawing

    Another very fine, well thought out and reasoned article. In addition to the examples of how ridiculous schools have become regarding toy guns, there are also kids who have been sent home for simply wearing a Military T-Shirt. It is outrageous for schools to adopt such an anti-Military stance when our nation at the same time supports proudly our troops and all that they do. Thank you again for providing excellent clarity and level headed reasoning on a topic.

  • Fat Hubie

    …cause the Lone Ranger never actually shot anyone much…

  • TimD

    I wonder if anyone has considered the tendency of stigmatizing things and making them taboo causing them to be more desirable to kids? All my friends and I used to play war games as kids – we even had a mock tank we used to attack and defend – and all are very succesfull college grads, and one with a senior position in the Army . . . So no problems here.

    – Tim

  • Tanner

    I don’t see any rational link.

    Admittedly, this is purely anecdotal, but literally every one of my childhood friends had toy guns, including one or two that were modeled after the evil black rifle.

    Additionally, most of us were introduced to real firearms as boys and taught to respect and safely handle said guns.

    Logic would suggest that were there any causation, at least ONE of us should have committed a violent crime by now, shouldn’t we? But that’s not the case.

  • tionico

    One VERY important aspect of the kids play with guns, arrows, etc, that is left completely out o fthe picture is this: amongst kids engaging in such play, there is ALWAYS the element of good vs evil: cops and robbers, cowboys and indians, good guys, bad guys, spy vs spy, army, etc.. so, what is actually being played out at the root of such games is the epic battle between good and evil, reward and punishment. This “conflict” is played out in other games, too, such as Capture the Flag (OUR team is always the good guys, the others the enemy out to get us) and Red Rover, Dodge Ball, Duck Duck Goose, even in board games such as Clue. Thus much of “child’s play” is not about violence at all, but about good and evil. Kids learn the difference between them, and the results of both. I knew very few kids who eagerly sought to be on the “bad” team in any such play.

    The reason Trayvon Martin is dead is that his pappy failed to teach him to respect people and their stuff. And for exactly the same reason we find 26 dead people in Newtown, CT, a dozen or so at Fort Hood, another handful at the Washington Navy Yard, and somewhere around twenty patrons of a theatre in Aurora Colorado. And this past weekend half a dozen in Isla Vista California…. tormenting children whooly innocent of any trace of wrongdoing by expelling them from school, stigmatising them by variously labellling them, causing their Father’s Conceal Carry Permit to be revoked, is utter folly, and can only lead to a degrading of the involved child’s sense of good and evil, crime and punishment, and respect for others and their stuff. A kid gets sent home for wearing an NRA T shirt which he KNOWS is no offense; kid gets sent home for a tiny harmless plastic army gun on a small chain, a toy he KNOWS is completely incapable of causing any harm; artistically challenged boy tries for the shape of a mountain and warped teacher thinks he’s making a “gun”, the greatest possible harm possibly caused by that pastry is the harm to his body if he eats it all, given the processed and chemical nature of the vile thing…. do this often enough and over a long enough period of time, and kids get perverted in their sense of right and wrong.

    ANd the “authorities” go into hyperdrive trying to prove by overwhelming force that they will be obeyed and feared no matter how barmy they are, leading to either unquestioning submission or outright rebellion.

    there are three necessary “ingredients” for any crime to be committed: means, opportunity, and intent. If intent is present, removing one means will ony cause the perpetrator to find or invent another means. If intent is not present, having the Red Button availble to detonate a nuclear explosive device will still not lead to any harm. The stupid gummint and skewl manglers prove themselves utterly incapable of rational thought every time they react to a “means” of far less capability to harm than a dime lying on the pavement outside the classroom, knowing full well that the “perpetrator” has even less “intent” than that administrator does in bringing harm upon another. I believe many of these kids are scarred for life, and will always have difficulty in respecting and trusting authority. They absolutely KNOW deep down they were wronged, and that by the very ones they are taught to trust. And THAT is a travesty far more serious than Jimmie pointing his fingers at Jane and sayng BANG, YOU’RE DEAD.

    so WHO is doing the harm here? It aint Joey the PopTart artist.

    • Ann Onymous

      I could not agree more.

      What’s funny is that this is the
      generation that believes in preserving children’s senses of self esteem
      to the point of idiocy and no effective discipline – and then they do
      stuff like this that is absolutely guaranteed to destroy it.

    • D Man

      Any teacher that would have a child suspended for eating a pop tart should be banned from teaching. When they start seeing guns in food, they need their heads examined!

  • astrojohn

    Yet ultra-violent video games are perfectly OK?? We are sooooo screwed up…

  • Vanns40

    As a kid my brother and I grew up playing cowboys and Indians. When I was in high school, and a senior, all the boys would go goose and duck hunting the first day and come in slightly late for the first class of the morning. We’d leave our cased shotguns up against the back wall of the classroom untill we went home. Nobody thought anything about it.

    What’s changed is the institution of the nanny state, the breakdown of the family and blaming everybody and everything except the individual responsible and finally letting the minority of liberals dictate what the majority of the rest of us should do.

  • Tired of PC

    As a kid, I played the Cowboys and Indians, Cops and Robbers, good guys vs. bad guys, and growing up in Utah, it wasn’t unusual to see older adults driving around in their pickup trucks with a gun rack with rifles/shotguns in the back window.
    Even though I played with toy guns, I was always taught never to point a gun at anything unless you wanted to kill it, so never really ÄIMED at my adversary when playing.
    As a parent I did not allow my kids to have TOY guns other than water guns, but I did take them out at a fairly early age, third grade,etc., and show them what a REAL gun would do to watermelon, cans, etc, and took them hunting with me when they wanted to go….age 12 or so.
    One thing the article didn’t mention is that in all the mass shootings other than Ft. Hood, ALL were GUN FREE ZONES, so it was SAFE for the perps, but not the victims. Ft. Hood, as we all know, was and overt terrorist killing by another wonderful “peaceful Muslim” that the Annointed One in the White House deemed a “workplace violence” and the perp continued to receive full pay until his conviction some 4 years later.
    My suggestion since this country is going to hell fast…. Buy more guns, and esp. buy all the ammo you can get, because you, and I are going to need it when the 47% living off the rest of us come after us when we decide we’ve finally had enough of the freeloaders, the “peaceful muslims”, the illegals who get everything for free, etc.,

    • Allen Benge

      It really impresses kids when you hit a muskmelon with a hollow point round.

  • Gene

    These children are being traumatized by the left wing idiots. Everything is OK in the childs mind until they are expelled, and tortured/ridiculed by the establishment. It leaves a scar in the child’s mind, and probably wonders, “what did I do wrong?” Am I bad?

    I grew up playing with imaginary guns at recess, and I’m not a mass murderer. If everyone that grew up playing with toy guns turned out bad, we would be in one hell of a mess right now. Alright, we are, but kids are being pumped full of all kinds of mind altering (legal) drugs. I doubt 90% of them really need the drugs. I blame TV advertising on how this “miracle drug” is going to solve all problems. Their parents shrug responsibilities. The “me” generation is too concerned about themselves to worry on properly raising their children. It’s someone else’s fault their child didn’t grow up right. Just pump more drugs into them. Problem solved.

  • mark

    I played with guns when I was growing up. All my male relatives did. I had Lone ranger six guns. I had a Johnny 7, a Tommy gun just like Sgt. Sanders. I had a bazooka and a cannon that fired 3″ balls. I had a multitude of other toy guns. I have been shooting real guns since I was 6 years old. That was fifty years ago. I have never had the desire to shoot anyone.

    The question I have is of those mass murders who were raised liberal. Did they play with toy guns? I think they weren’t allowed to do that.

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  • Those crack-pots would have had a blast (pun intended) trying to suspend/expel about 1/3 of my daughter’s 1st grade class earlier this month for writing about what they wanted to be when they grow up. The class read what they had written for the parents, and about 6 or 7 of the kids (my daughter included) said they wanted to be cops or army men because they wanted to shoot bad guys. (My daughter did say she wanted to “help people from bad guys” – translation, save people from bad guys…my husband is a cop.) We all (teacher included) knew these were just 1st graders with active imaginations. Not a single one of these kids are “violent”.

  • Austin Adams

    When my brothers and I were young, my parents let us kids play almost anything we wanted to, as long as we followed one rule: never pretend to do something you wouldn’t do in real life. Training for reality is a principle that has served me well – when I pulled the trigger on a toy gun as a six year old, I had as much cause for doing so as I do when at this age I pull the trigger on a very real rifle or handgun. Of course, there were times when one of us had to play the bad guy . . . 🙂

    I know that this principle isn’t for everyone, and I don’t think that playing around with toy guns will make someone more likely to commit a crime with a real gun. However, consistency is something that is highly valued among many shooters/gun owners. When at home, you don’t point your Glock or 1911 at a family member, and neither would you do so at the range, or when out hunting. We all know the universal gun safety rule: don’t point your gun at something you aren’t willing to destroy.

    In my home, consistency started when we were old enough to hold a plastic pistol, not when we exchanged that toy for the real thing. The switch was smooth, as we really didn’t have any new rules to learn 🙂 I am concerned when I see young boys pointing pretend guns at their mothers, sisters, etc., not because they are going to be killers one day (very unlikely), but because they are learning to handle a pretend firearm in a way that would be extremely wrong to do with the real thing.

    So, I don’t see any link between toy guns and killer criminals, but I would encourage younger shooters/pre-shooters to be already practicing what they will (hopefully) one day live out with real firearms.

  • Steve Harmon

    Nope, it apparently has to do only with deranged liberals.

    • William Burke

      Appearances can be, and are, deceptive. And calling one’s foes “deranged” accomplishes what? It makes you seem simple-minded, and that’s about it.

      • Steve Harmon

        So you’re defending these mass murderers as having normal behavior? Simple minded? How is stating obvious fact, “simple minded”? What has your research into these, “deranged” killers shown you? Awaiting apology.

        • William Burke

          You might want to take a reading comprehension class, Bucky.

          • Steve Harmon

            Wow, thanks for the, “Bucky”, I feel a closeness not felt before, nice. I would, when responding to an admonishment for calling to question your dismissal of the term “deranged”, say my comprehension was right on. Once again, do you not understand the word, “deranged”? I’ll explain. You see, It’s my contention that a mass murderer is “deranged”, do you disagree? If not, what would you say is the proper word to define such action? You seem to enjoy name calling, why is that? Am I hitting too close to home with the, “deranged liberals”?

          • William Burke

            Steve, are you familiar with the old expression, “…flying leap”?

          • Steve Harmon

            Yeah, guess I hit that one out of the park, I’ll be leaping now “deranged liberal”.

      • Carrie Barton

        Deranged, Deranged, Deranged boy does that feel good.

  • William Burke

    They are NOT “well-meaning”. Uh-uh. Sorry. School teachers and administrators are engaged in an active campaign of COGNITIVE DISSONANCE. My handing out totally irrational punishments for harmless acts, they gradually destroy the child’s rational base. When it’s totally destroyed, the kids can be taught the most absurd things, and they will accept it unquestioningly.

    • Blogengeezer

      Destroy the individual thought process with retraining from an early age, the individual becomes the collective. The collective is very useful, albeit expendable, to the totalitarian power of the state. Only the eventual deterioration, destruction of the generation that has been programmed thus, allows for a resurgence of natural, individual thought processes. ……This generation must pass.

      • William Burke

        Pretty much.

  • LTC (Retired) LD

    I, too, played with guns, and toy soldiers, and toy tanks, and toy artillery — might have had an influence on career choices, but did not cause me to engage in or accept violence in settling personal issues. I have been trained to shoot and kill the Enemy, but that training is of a military nature, not a social position. In my humble opinion, the individuals who have chosen to use firearms as a means of communicating a social statement (like this latest murder-suicide where the kid felt he had been “rejected” by girls and ignored by guys), are far less socially balanced than any kid who grew up playing with guns. These murders lack the personal skills to interact with other humans, and somehow their less-than-stable minds make the decision that the only way to handle the situation is to use violence to make a statement; that most often means obtaining a firearm and employing it in criminal ways. Worldwide, modern societies have become so “concerned” about how sensitive children are that those children have become over-protected, sheltered, never allowed to overcome failure because failure for them doesn’t exist. As a result, they never learn how to handle times of frustration or rejection. Their fragile ego is crushed and the chosen response is to lash out with violence. No toy guns don’t warp kids’ minds; society has taken care of that for them!

  • Politiwars

    Absolutely ZERO link to toy guns. When my generation were kids 50+ years ago, every kid I knew had toy guns. By the boatload. We played cops and robbers, army, cowboys forever. We bought every toy gun and cap pistol we could get our hands on. We watched Roy Rodgers, Gunsmoke, Combat and many more TV shows and movies where guns were prominently used. Almost every household had guns in it. And we did NOT HAVE THESE SHOOTINGS.

    I was bullied from 6th grade though high school. Seven years of it. I had access to real guns. I never even thought of shooting anyone. We simply didn’t think that way back then.

    What we have now is an large segment of American culture that has devolved into nihilism. That’s what the difference is from when I was a kid. If you don’t know that that is, basically it’s an abandonment of values and morality. So many people have no moral compass. No role models. Horrible family upbringing. Rampant prescription and illegal drug abuse.

    It has nothing to do with guns. Toy or otherwise.

    • Ann Onymous

      It’s not just nihilism; it’s a culture that has become pathologically focused on the detrimental possibilities of guns, so that’s all that is emphasized. If I tell you “Don’t think of a carrot”, what do you think of? When you are bombarded by ads for the toy-of-the-month, what is the only thing you focus on?

      When people are so freaked out by guns that all they do is scream and shout “Get rid of guns; they’re dangerous! and kill people”, the only thing that will remain in people’s minds is the negative power – and not reasonable caution.

      Then when you suspend or expel kids for even *saying* the word “gun”, or any of these other nonsensical idiocies, you just lock in the focus that there is massive power in having and using a gun, unaccompanied by any sane cautions and education – and then the seriously mentally disturbed pretty much can’t help but think of guns and shooting people as a solution to all their problems. Because people who are that disturbed feel, above all, a profound sense of lack of power – over themselves, their environment, others – and the easy message has beat into their heads that guns and shooting people *give* one power. Untempered by any counterbalancing education.

  • Allen Benge

    Dr. Weiner is a total idiot! Every kid, girls as well as boys, has had play guns, even if nothing but index finger extended and thumb up, accompanied by a boisterous, “Bang! You’re dead!” All of my kids had toys guns, and the process of ingraining gun safety began then. Never, ever point any gun at anything you do not want to destroy. As they got older, they got BB guns, then proceeded into real .22lr rifles. I have an aunt that figures I should fear and hate guns, having been shot in the eye with a BB gun at age ten. The gun did not shoot me, it was the kid holding it. I grew up to love and respect firearms. I taught my kids gun safety and they all fired every one of my guns. One daughter freaked out a Marine range instructor when she performed with a 1911 .45 ACP like a pro. She then told him that indeed, she had not fired THIS weapon, but her dad had one just like it and he had taught her well. Ignorance can be cured with education, but as Ron White observes, “You can’t fix stupid.”

  • Allen Benge

    There is a photo on Facebook showing third or fourth graders in Indiana, learning gun safety in 1956, I believe. School shootings in Indiana in 1956: ZERO! My first high school in Indianapolis had a .22 rifle range on the top floor that had been shut down because of the anti-war sentiments extended to teaching kids about guns. An armed society is a polite society. How many mass shootings do you think would take place if there was a good chance that someone would have the means to blow you out of your socks? Probably not many. We need more legal armed citizens, not fewer.

  • Bill Doane

    I also played with guns as a child, toy, fake, the root cause of the problem is parents are not teaching the value of life and letting the “state” decide what is good and evil, parents take a roll, be proactive not reactive in raising your children. Old school is still the best! When parents taught reality vs. imagination. It’s good to roll play with good and bad, right and wrong, cops and robbers. But the main cause is parents need to be involved, not let the “STATE” decide what is right and wrong!

  • Laurence Almand

    More do-gooder nonsense! When I was growing up in the 1950s almost all the boys had cap guns and BB guns. Plastic replicas of Army rifles and machine guns were also common toys. None of us grew up to be criminals, because we were taught to be good citizens. It all goes back to the parents.
    Those unscrupulous, neurotic, drug-addicted Hollywood people should not have children in the first place! Look what happens to them! Marlon Brando’s son was a murderer, and his daughter Cheyenne committed suicide. Art Linkletter’s daughter committed suicide, as did Paul Newman’s son.
    Not every person is fit to be a parent – and most of those Hollywood jerks aren’t!

  • r4fthrs

    I have been a life long hunter/competitive shooter (as my father and his father before him were). I played army and cowboys with my friends using a variety of lifelike toy guns. I had my first BB gun at 8 and a .22 at 10 (and I grew up shooting a variety of guns with my father & grandfather). I went to a school where everyone had a pocket knife on them and when you were old enough to drive to school at least one gun in your car so we could hunt before or after school (we used to clean them and work on them in shop class). We never had an incident where a weapon was used against another person (and we had our share of fights). So the `gun’ culture hasn’t changed I feel we are looking at the wrong indicators that are leading to the type of sociopathic behavior we are experiencing.

    That being said, I wouldn’t allow my children to play with toy guns until they could 1) differentiate the difference between a toy and the real thing and 2) recite the 10 commandments of gun safety. This was to prevent accidents and not to keep them from becoming serial killers. What I did for that was to prevent them from watching R rated movies or playing violent video games until they were 16. It wasn’t a popular rule, but one I feel strongly about. I personal think the very institutions that are bent on the destruction of the Second Amendment (the media and `entertainment’ industry) are the ones most responsible for desensitizing our kids to violence. They are not fully responsible, as most parents need to learn to say NO and stick to their guns (excuse the pun)

  • Tim Wilkins

    I played with toy guns as a child and get my first real gun at a young age and other than getting in trouble for shooting down some fence post I’ll never had any problems with guns. Never had any desire to go shoot up movie theaters, school, workplace or anything like that. It is just gun grabbers over reaction to any thing to do with guns.

  • Ann Onymous

    Nice article, and I’m glad to know that the experts don’t think there’s any connection – and that in fact, if anything, there is a negative correlation.

    However, you lost me at “Christian” values.

    In one fell swoop, you have just devalued the value systems of a massive portion of the rest of the world, including most notably Judaism and Buddhism. The main part of that value system you laud is not only not only not in any way unique to Christians, but was *started* by the Jews, and Buddhism is similarly ancient and exceptionally peaceful, long predating Christianity.

    Believing in and worshiping Jesus per se (which is absolutely fundamental to Christianity) is in no way a prerequisite to learning to be and striving to be a fundamentally good and moral person who respects their fellow human beings and all peoples’ rights to exist in freedom and safety.

    • Col Ben

      Thank you for your comments. Just as with the article topic, I believe you were over-sensitive to the term Christian values I used in one sentence. My statement was true, but not all encompassing, and based on my experiences. My comment was meant to be a generalized attention to the basic value of caring about others for ANY religion. I was
      using mine as a reference point and maybe should not have used the word “Christian.” By omission, I did not demean others. There was no devaluation of any value system intended and I did not say that belief in Jesus was a prerequisite to being good, etc. The majority happens to be Christian. I understand that there is religious diversity in North America and I sincerely appreciate that and do not devalue diversity. Roughly 76% of Americans currently identify themselves as Christians, about 14% do not follow any organized religion, and the rest follow an array of non-Christian religions, from Asatru to Zoroastrianism.

      I generally believe and accept that all of the tens of thousands of faith groups in the world are valid and true to their values, when viewed from within their particular culture. I have observed, studied, and believe that most if not all religions involve the same core value of caring about others as shown through caring deeds. That can be a basic value of Christians, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, etc. Certainly, each one directs people to some specific
      reality such as God, gods, Allah, or Brahman, etc.

      To me most if not all religions enjoin similar ethical practices such as telling the truth, respecting other people’s property, etc., but frequently those values are certainly colored
      by the particular religious context. So many religions believe and teach similar things, but God and Allah, for example, may be similar, but they are not identical.

      The contemporary mantra is that the more one learns about what other people believe, the more we will recognize that we all believe the same things. I believe that there is a common thread among core values, but within a different religious framework. But, we need to know what other religions believe before we can make that judgment with credibility.

      Again, thank you and I just wanted to clarify my one sentence. I do appreciate your comments.

    • MrWonderful61

      Um, as I understand it, “Christian values” merely defines a set of values which may partially or wholly intersect with any number of other “value sets.”

      You may want to consider getting a handle on your typical “liberal outrage.” I’m merely guessing, but most of the conservatives I know, whether Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Agnostic or Atheist, would not take particular offense at someone’s use of the word “Christian” in this context, let alone call out the author for using it so.

      Have a nice day!

  • bob

    I know of a mother who wanted to have her boy play with non-gender toys. No guns. She gave the 3 year old a Barbie doll, the boy bent the doll over and started using Barbie as a gun. A boy is a boy!

  • Carrie Barton

    What a joke! My friends played with toy guns. We all grew up to be outstanding citizens. Has nothing to do with being taught Liberal views .Well Maybe?

  • ShawninVA

    Boys are taught in school that boy behaviour is wrong. They are feminized at a young age. It’s counter to their brain chemistry, and leads to frustration. Some just can’t handle it and eventually they snap. Boys need to be allowed to act like boys freely. Then overaggression can be dealt with. This stupidity they call “zero tolerance” over punishes one gender over another. It’s zero tolerance for masculinity.

  • Debby Marx

    No, it has no link. My brother and I both played with toy guns and bows and arrows and neither one of us has had any problems as teens or adults. It has to do with your genes, mental and sometimes the way you are raised and the way society treats you. If the reports are to be believed most of the ones that have gone on killing sprees have had trouble with the way the were treated as they were growing up causing mental issues. Or they started out with problems with their genes

  • Nam Vet

    Not just no……but hell no. If that was so every friend I grew up with and myself would be mass murders. What a crock of shit from liberals and the left idiots.

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  • Patria Nostra

    I touched my first gun when I was 4 years old and have a photo to prove it. The gun was my dad’s GI Thompson M1A1, he was guarding German POWs. After that I ALWAYS had toys guns, even wearing a Lone Ranger Belt with both (toy) pistols, Then I finally got my first real firearm, a 22LR carbine and thereafter the Government was kind enough to issue me an M2 Carbine and offer me a trip to a far and exotic land all expenses paid. Back a civilian I acquired several weapons and have NEVER used any weapon in my life unlawfully.

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