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Drop the Weapon for a $3 Sale

Patch columnist plans to participate in a "look-alike" toy gun buy back, and here's his reasons why.

Approximately ten years ago I saw TV documentary about the dangers of "look-alike" toy guns — the ones that look like real firearms. 

I had them as a child in the 1950s. Mom was opposed to giving kids toy guns, but most boys had them and that was good enough for me. 

Mom never adequately explained her opposition, at least as far as I was concerned.  She would have had to talk about concepts like "desensitization to violence," "modeling behavior" and "might makes right vs. the pen is mightier than the sword."

But it would have been lost on me. After all, I was a six-year-old and my hero was the Cisco Kid. He had nickel-plated Colt .45s. I had to have them, too.

Dad toed the line — ostensibly — but on Christmas I found them under the tree: two dazzlingly shiny, cap-firing, full-scale Colt revolvers, holsters included, one for each hip. 

My brother got a set as well. 

"From Grandpa," the card said, in this instance Mom’s dad, a man who had fathered a daughter but no sons. I suspect the method of firearm delivery was a conspiracy between Dad and Grandpa — a "guy thing."

A raging fire-fight ensued for about twenty minutes, followed by a quick draw competition, which dissolved into a series of heated arguments over who got off the first shot. I discovered that a winning strategy was to draw and shoot before my brother said, "Three!"

"You cheated!" he screamed.

"You’re dead," I replied. 

"You boys stop it," Mom said, while glowering at Grandpa and Dad.

 "They’re just playing," insisted Dad.

The documentary I saw focused on a series of tragic incidents nationwide in which children brandishing look-alike toy guns had been shot by police officers.  In each instance, the police officer had reason to believe his own life was in danger. It was appalling to think about how many lives were lost and people scarred as a result. 

Many communities have banned the sale of look-alike toy guns. Some toy manufacturers have tried to get around the law by putting a red tip on the gun barrel, but the police and other experts have pointed out that it is difficult-to-impossible to distinguish red from black (for example) in a darkened room. 

So, I will be buying back look-alike toy guns. I’ll be at the Sustainability Fair on June 4 at in Port Washington from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.  I’ll pay $3.00 a piece as long as the money holds out. 

There are three conditions to the sales:

  1. It must look approximately like a real firearm from a distance of ten feet;
  2. I will buy it from the child who owns it;
  3. The child must be accompanied by an adult.

Hope to see you there.

Don Niederfrank May 29, 2011 at 12:09 AM
Howard, there's a pair of Fanner 50s on Ebay! Present bid $139.50. Just sayin... Absolutely we had them. We played lots of games in which we killed one another with guns, spears, knives, hand grenades, etc. Sometimes we were Gene or Roy or Cisco or Sgt. Rock of Easy Company. Conflict play is as necessary for latency age boys and cooperative play is necessary for latency age girls. It's how boys learn that relationships transcend conflict and become men.
Mary Boyle June 06, 2011 at 05:11 AM
This is such a difficult topic. I run into many parents who have the 'no weapon' rule in their homes while my own 5 year old actually has an entire box full of weapons - swords, bow & arrows and guns, too - although the majority of them are made of wood and are historic in nature. My family reenacts the French & Indian War, so my children have grown up watching their Dad 'die' repeatedly - and 'kill' others on a recreated battlefield. It would be the height of hypocrisy if we told our children they couldn't play with pretend weapons. The thing is, even if you take the toy weapons away, boys will find a way to make them - they'll use legos, sticks and even their hands. More importantly, there is no evidence that supports the theory that children who play with toy weapons grow up to be any more violent than those who don't. Playing war is just as important to a child as playing house. Play is the way children figure out how the world works and, quite frankly, the opportunity to play 'dying,' which is part of every life cycle, is integral to the development of children. That being said, allowing your kid to have a gun that looks like a real, modern gun is asking for trouble - especially if you live in a high-crime area. Toy guns that look real are dangerous - and so are real guns that look like toys: http://motherjones.com/mixed-media/2011/03/painted-guns-toys-gun-control

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