This holiday season, if you plan on getting either of my kids gifts please don't buy them any toy guns. They aren't welcomed in my home anymore. We will keep the Nerf guns, Star Wars blasters and revolutionary war pop guns that we already own, but that is it nothing more. I can't justify my outrage at this nation's flippant attitude towards guns, gun violence and the lack of respect for human life, while at the same time letting my kids play with guns (albeit toy guns).
This evening I saw a post on a fellow dad blogger's Facebook page about a seven year old Michigan girl who was shot dead and whose mother is critically wounded after being showered with a barrage of bullets outside of her soccer practice. The gunman, who took the cowards way out, had purchased the gun legally. No waiting, no registering, no background check, just hand over the cash and here is your gun, some bullets and well see you soon. Luckily, I guess, he only hit his targets, who may I remind you were a 7 year old girl and her mother. But had this guy missed he could have put some lead into more kids, more moms or dads, perhaps a baby or two. Maybe this story hits me hard because I live with a 7-year old girl and her mother.
In Michigan where this tragedy took place, it is legal for a person to carry a firearm in public as long as the person is carrying the firearm with lawful intent and the firearm is not concealed. No Law to prohibit: There is no law that makes it legal; it is the absence of a law to prohibit open carry that makes it lawful. (You can get a concealed pistol license after taking an 8 hour course, showing a state issued ID and paying a $100 fee.) While on the other hand, to get a drivers license in Michigan, you need to pass a written test. Pay a fee to get a learners permit. Practice for at least 30 days after getting your permit. Take an eye and hearing exam. Show your original social security card and birth certificate. Take a road test. And then you can go back to the office and get your drivers license . If its your first license you go on three years of probation. So you need to jump through hoops to get a drivers license. But if you have $200 you can legally buy a gun, pretty much no questions asked and carry it around.
I am not going to jump on the soapbox and say where were the "good guys with guns" to stop yet another child from being shot dead on the streets of the United States of America. Because clearly that idea even in a state where it is so easy to carry a gun around there weren't people around to stop the gunman. Its a myth that more guns will solve the problem. If there was someone else with a gun around, and if they didn't do what normal people do when they hear shots firing (run the other way). What were they going to do, just start shooting? Turning that parking lot outside of the soccer field into the O-K Corral?
We are supposed to be the greatest country in the world. But we are not. We are killing each other in the streets. We don't spend anytime mourning victims of gun violence (no time in between incidents I guess). The second the smoke clears we are yelling at each other about gun control, religion, race, the NRA, terrorism, Republicans, Democrats, and various other bogeymen. And not taking a second to think about the state of our nation. More divided than we have ever been.
I just can't glorify guns to my kids. Guns are not toys. They aren't fun. They are tools designed with one purpose killing. Really soon I am going to have to explain to my small children about gun violence. About what the lock down drill at their school is all about. I am not advocating banning toy guns, I'm just not going to buy them. A brand like Nerf makes a lot of awesome toys that aren't guns, so perhaps they should shift their focus to those products that emphasize being active and healthy.
If someone hands one of my kids a present and it turns out to be a toy gun, we will thank them for the generous gift and then we will return it to a store and exchange it for a more appropriate toy. Please include a gift receipt.