I was having a conversation yesterday with a colleague about children and guns.
He has a new baby and is torn between allowing toy guns, or not.
When we were little my mother did her darnedest to keep guns and violent toys out of our hands and in response we picked up sticks and pretended they were guns.
When I was about 8 or 9 my great uncle allowed me to watch as he organised the guns and ammo for rabbit/possum hunting on the farm. I clung to the back of his bike as we all rode out to a good spot while the sun lowered itself into the hot Hawke’s Bay earth.
I waited, twitching with suppressed excitement and nerves, for the rabbits to come out to feed.
I watched as he shot animals and they didn’t get back up again.
I cried as he walked me over to retrieve the “bunny” and ensure that it was a fatal shot and was not in pain.
He explained the different between pets, farm stock, and pests.
We talked about animal control and what rabbits and possums did to New Zealand farms and native bush.
We went home and skinned the rabbits and fed the dogs.
After a night of bad dreams I awoke and sat at the breakfast table, little legs swinging and explained to my amused Aunt that MY Bunny was a good bunny because it didn’t have too many babies and only ate our vegi scraps, so that bunny shouldn’t be shot.
My mother taught me that she didn’t like guns.
That is all.
My uncle taught me that guns are tools.
Guns harm that which you use them on.
He taught me that if you shoot something it is your responsibility. YOU pick it up, make sure you did it properly and dispose or/use the remains.
Guns are to be taken seriously, and are NOT toys.
My uncle taught me more in one week than my mother had taught me in 8 years.
I have no doubt that if he had caught my brother and I pointing even pretend guns at each other’s heads we would have finally met the big leather strop he kept on top of the fireplace to scare us with.
So when I saw this morning’s paper with this article I was delighted.
There will always be guns in this world.
Kids will see them on T.V, on farms, in computer games, and in the sadder cases, in their own world.
Kids will always play at adult activities, cooking, families, building, driving.
Shooting a gun is an adult activity and will be mimicked.
It is a parent’s responsibility to provide good behaviour for children to emulate.
We can turn our backs on violence and pretend it doesn’t exist, or confront it and teach our children better lessons. This idea is a brilliant way of providing the toys, with an appropriate response.
Will the kids who haven’t seen a real gun in action understand why the license is part of this play activity?