Some images are links.

Photos of kids first?

Nicole Kenyon, December 25, 2020:

My husband came home the other day saying he had the perfect Christmas present for our 9 year old son - a gel blaster toy gun. He was beaming and so happy. My first thought was "oh no, not a gun!" I looked at him and said "wonderful, I am sure he will love it." Christmas came and yes that present was a winner. Both of them playing with it. Meanwhile I am in the other room stewing about why I feel so disturbed having a toy gun in the house. They talked about how to load it (it uses tiny little jelly beans) and my husband said "mum would know best". And then I realised that I told him the story when I was 18 and dated someone that did military service (compulsory in Switzerland) and had to practice his shooting skills. He brought me along and I shot much better than he did (I thought it was funny, he not so much).

"So, isn't it interesting" I said to myself "that you are making a fuss about a toy gun yet you actually fired a real one AND had fun!"

Deschooling for me is sometimes not to act straight away but to sit and think about it. Is it a pattern the media has fed you? Where is the "no way" coming from?

While I wrote this story my husband and child are down in the living room and enjoying life, making little cardboard targets, laughing and having a great time. ❤

Nicole Kenyon
The original, which was headed "A post about deschooling."

This page is old, and was much too horizontal. Many links and some images were gone, too, in 2021. Here it is from December 26, 2007.

Public question, and responses follow.

[My son] plays with guns (toy guns of course) My older neighbor said to me one day....I let him play with them? I said sure, why? She said: well, with all the violence out there going on. I didn't have a good answer...still don't...I only said that i think there are more factors involved then just playing with guns. My other neighbor said she doesn't allow her son to play with toy guns either. I need more info and your opinions on this subject, please. I am finding people quite opposed to "letting" their children play with toy guns. Why do they feel that is going to make a kid prone to do something bad?

Olga O:

I would point out, though, that if playing with guns made you grow up to shoot people or do violent things, we'd ALL be dead because there was a time when no one ever thought anything of it and every little boy in America had a toy Lone Ranger revolver and that bb gun that the kid in Christmas Story wanted (my husband can recite that little blurb about the Daisy rifle, LOL).

It's not playing with guns that makes you think it's okay to shoot people because you got picked on at school or work. Kids don't shoot up their school because they got confused between a chicken finger and a real gun. Kids shoot up their school because of deep disconnection from people around them and a lack of coping skills. They don't need anger management and gun free zones, they need someone to really behave as if they give a rat's ass about them and it wouldn't hurt if it started with their parents, because you don't get a basis for that kind of connection from daycare or school or Marilyn Manson (who also doesn't make kids shoot up their school, btw). 😉

Sandra Dodd:

Girls too, had guns. I had a Dale Evans outfit (Roy Rogers' wife) with a fringy cowgirl skirt and vest and holsters and all.

I've never wanted a real gun.

Joyce Fetteroll:
I had a Man from U.N.C.L.E. gun. (Actually still do!)

(not Joyce's actual gun)
I've shot real guns.

I have no desire to shoot people with them. Or even animals.

I think the biggest problem is that people see children as broken and evil. That the only reason that we're all not running amok is because someone squashed the evil in us by making us go through the motions of being good (no candy, no guns, no TV) until it was so ingrained and we were old enough to tell ourselves to stop with the evil thoughts that we wouldn't slip back.

It's very comforting to think that we can prevent our children from becoming murderers by never letting them play with a plastic gun. But it also shows that they haven't really thought about it much. It's just too darn comforting to grasp an idea like that and implement it, even be blind to evidence to the contrary (telling ourselves that there are just too many complicating factors that only experts could understand).

Do they really think the *only* difference between a gang member and their own child is because the people in ghettos allow their kids to play with toy guns?

And how *do* they explain adults who played with guns as kids and never shot anyone?

The people who are the *least* likely to beat you up are the people who could mash you to a pulp. Just ask anyone with a black belt 😉 When you have the confidence that you're powerful, there's no reason to go around proving it.

Powerlessness is what causes people to shoot others, not guns. (And using one's power to prevent kids from playing with guns is pretty disempowering! Or gives them the opportunity to learn to be sneaky.)

There're a couple of pages on my site about violence:

Violent Play

Passing on nonviolent values

Lisa W.:
When our son was born we decided that he would not have any toy guns as we wanted him to learn respect for real guns—not because we were afraid he would grow up to do something awful on purpose with a real gun. As he grew we showed him what a real gun would do—no we did not shoot people nor animals. 😉 We shot various types of guns we owned at fruit and various other things on our property to demonstrate the power of a gun and why it was not to be played with.

Long story short—he was obsessed with guns—and obtaining a toy one—LOL— he made them out of sticks, legos, fingers, etc.

We soon figured out that there really was no stopping the fascination so we chose to ditch the "rule" He is 13 now and still fascinated with guns and various types of weapons—he knows all types of weapons and war history as well as strategy from the beginning of time to present.

Connection: a couple of days ago he was watching a show about the Moghuls in India and how they invented a rocket that tumbled—then when the British took over India they acquired the knowledge and then used it against us in the Revolutionary War. AND those are the rockets that Francis Scott Key wrote about the "Rocket's Red Glare" in the Star Spangled Banner. So Zachariah finished the show and then literally ran upstairs to put on his CD of the song to listen to it.

He has a full arsenal of toy guns and weapons. Right now he is into making wooden swords based upon historical records and imaginary from his Manga books. He has also made a few wooden guns. He has an air soft gun and a BB gun. We found that the air soft gun seemed to be more dangerous because it tended to ricochet off of even a cardboard box.

Oh and his latest acquisition is a small machette—from the camping department—he wanted to whack weeds on one of our lots.

Sandra Dodd:
I think forbidding toy guns is another instance of superstitious magic practiced unwittingly by parents.

The idea that one can make a sacrifice to assure future success is ancient among humans, isn't it?

Deprivation doesn't create appreciation. It creates some or all of desire, neediness, curiosity, fascination, resentment, obsession, anger...

Unfortunately the real sacrifice parents make too often is their child's happiness and their own hope of a full and healthy relationship with that child and future adult.

Sylvia Toyama:
My Mom was one who never allowed my brother to play with guns—toy or real. We lived in the country until he was 10, and every other boy he knew had a pellet gun. By high school, my brother's life dream was to be a Marine Recon Ranger (he ultimately got 4-F'd) and he could field-strip and reassemble a M-I in under a minute. As an adult, he keeps a gun in the house and shoots at a target range, but has never shot anyone.

When oldest son was young, I 'allowed' gunplay. He had nerf guns, noisy machine guns, a paintball gun at 15, and spent two years of high school in ROTC. He, too, announced his desire to become a Marine. At 16, he quit all that, and explained that while he still enjoys target practice with real guns, he doesn't believe he could ever kill another human being.

Both my son and brother are decent human beings, with no violent tendencies. My son does seem a gentler soul than my brother—or maybe just less battered by life, so less angry.

I believe kids are smarter than many adults give them credit for. 🙂 I know mine are. As unschoolers, we know our kids are bright enough to figure out there's a difference between real violence and game playing. I'd bet that as free children living more autonomous lives, they understand that you don't have to have a gun to be violent towards someone else. That violence isn't about guns (they're just tools, after all)—violence is about power and control over other people. My instincts tell me that people who have been controlled, limited or denied by other (more powerful) people are more likely to be violent than those who have been respected and supported in pursuit of their own lives.

CAET by e-mail:
As for the discussion about kids and guns I'd like to tell you that I have changed totally. I was totally against "violent" toys before, but my son has shown me a whole new world thanks to his interest in pirates, vikings, ancient Egypt—well you name it. He now has a small, but growing, collection of swords, shields etc.

Peaceful Kids with Toy Guns:

Terror tubby Sam and hippie Abby
"Stunt photo for amusement only — the kids understand basics of proper gun handling"

Holly and Marty as zombie hunters
with unloaded water guns on Halloween

Jack Stranahan

Supriya and Aseem being Annie Oakley and Frank Butler

CAETs daughter
"She loves to dress up and uses all kinds of clothes together."

Marty Dodd with sword and gun

Sheriff Kyle

(click image to read more)

Taipan with water guns

Régis, Tom and Lilou (the baby)

Tom, winter 2008, France

Lilou (the baby in the bathtub above), older

Sorscha, in New Mexico

Back to the stories,
or to more photos
(those above and a few more)

An outside article with interesting facts and ideas: Keeping Kids From Toy Guns: How One Mother Changed Her Mind "Is violent play bad? I used to think so. Then I spent some time outside of the United States." (CHRISTINE GROSS-LOH, AUGUST 9, 2013)

Info Elsewhere
some neutral, some anti-gun

Parents' Views On Toy Guns Vary By Gender And Race


Toy Guns, Violence, And Parents

Magical Thinking and Spoiled Children

Saying "YES" to Children More articles on Peace

Joyce on logical thought for parents —the problem with limits

Does TV Cause Violence? Monster Mania

Title art by Jack and Lauren Stranahan, March 2009