Bang Bang

Ya gotta love Christmas. Peace on earth, goodwill toward men, and record sales of toy guns.

But, my friend says, her son, and all of his friends, will make a gun out of any old thing. The problem isn’t the toys.

Okay, so it’s the boys. Seems they’re hardwired with a propensity toward killing. Why is this not a problem? A stand-up-and-scream problem. Not a sweep-it-under-the-carpet boys-will-be-boys problem.

Why does it not bother parents that their son considers pretending to kill to be fun (that is, that he derives psychological pleasure from pretending to kill)?

Why does it not bother them that their son considers killing a game (that is, an appropriate activity for make-believe)?

Anticipating ‘It’s just the noise and the chasing that’s fun, he doesn’t associate the action with killing’ – is that supposed to make it better? That he pulls a trigger on a gun and doesn’t associate the action with killing? Maybe you should take him to an ER and let him see what a bullet does to a body. He might think twi – he might think then before so casually making that pulling-a-trigger motion.

I wonder whether parents would be as blasé if he as repeatedly put his arm around someone’s throat and swiped a piece of stiff cardboard across it? Is it just that people have become desensitized to the shooting-a-gun action?

Further, I am puzzled by the ‘doesn’t bother me’ response not only because of the psychological and philosophical implications, but also because of the practical ones: first, once he’s fourteen or sixteen, the action becomes illegal (at least in the States). (Then again, it might be illegal at all ages and maybe it’s just when a kid points a fake gun, no one presses charges.) (Because boys will be boys?) (So the men who do so are also boys?)

And, second, such an action may well get him killed. ‘Cuz I have to tell ya, since real kids have access to real guns these days, if I were walking down a city street and a kid jumped out at me pointing a gun, I’d shoot first and ask questions later. If I had a gun.

Which I don’t. So instead I’d just break out into a cold sweat and try to raise my arms. And then when the kid laughed and lowered his arm, telling me it’s just a toy, I’d haul him off to his parents and give all three of you a huge piece of mind. What right do you have to let your kid terrorize me like that? What the hell is wrong with you??

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