The Hypocrisy & Insidiousness of Toy Gun Buybacks
By Shari Spivack
New Jersey –-(Ammoland.com)- Every year, particularly around the holiday season, there are articles in the news about kids “trading in” their toy guns for a more “appropriate” toy or book.
Sad faced children, usually little boys, carry their prized toy guns to their fate of being crushed by machines like the Bash-O-Matic, all for the exchange of a brightly wrapped book or stuffed animal.
Last Christmas I really felt sorry for a nine year old boy named Malik from Providence, RI, whose mother made him bash all, save one, of his seven toy guns (“I mean he is a boy after all,” she said); especially since my four kids have a small arsenal of Nerf guns that we use regularly in the now infamous Spivack family wars.
When I heard about the recent toy gun buyback by Stop Shootin’ Inc in Newark, I thought, here we go again. The goal of trying to decrease the culture of violence that exists in many communities across our country is an admirable one, however a toy gun buyback program does little to address the problem, just as a real gun buyback program doesn’t do much to make our communities safer. It’s merely symbolic to take away toy guns when kids are exposed to extreme violence in movies, television shows, gaming and the internet – what is really missing is parent involvement, encouraging imaginative play and getting kids active and engaged with each other.
A one day focus on destroying plastic toys does none of this, even with selective programming. Where is the follow through?
When I was growing up, my parents couldn’t always send the six of us to camp in the summer so we were sent off to play outside. There was no Xbox so we hit the backyard and the game of choice was Cowboys and Indians. My sisters and I would meet up with the other neighborhood kids following breakfast and head off for the woods. We broke off into teams and spent the day climbing trees, searching for cover and taking prisoners. We only came home when we were hungry and our parents didn’t tell us to make sure we brought our cell phones with us.
So Much for Unstructured, Uncontrolled Play…
There are very few opportunities for kids today to play freely as we did in an unstructured, uncontrolled environment. There is a fear of letting kids be free, to connect with nature and each other, so instead they sit inside in front of the Xbox and connect via the internet. They don’t get to go wherever their imagination takes them, even to an innocent game of Cowboys and Indians or Cops and Robbers.
As adults we are all guilty of allowing this to happen, and it is easy to blame the results, especially in the inner cities, on an evil “gun culture”. The fear of allowing our kids to roam freely today does have merit, the streets of any suburban neighborhood can be a dangerous place for children. But it can be overblown too and it does affect the psyche of our children. It is easier to lock them inside than to teach them how to engage safely with the world around them. We should be focusing on ways to allow our children to experience the freedom of previous generations, so they can foster good connections to other people, to communities and to nature even in places like Newark, NJ.
I believe violence is taught either by example or by omission of important values – it is not learned from a plastic gun inside a cardboard box.
Yes, if you want to say children, particularly boys are attracted to guns, fine. Educating children on how to be safe around real guns is the easier part. Responsible ways to handle or not handle guns can be taught by responsible parents, or New Jersey schools can promote programs designed for this purpose, like the Eddie Eagle program. The harder part will be changing the way we think about giving kids opportunities to make positive connections. If we continue to control the way this generation is raised, to lock down access to freedoms and choices and opportunities for imaginative play for our children, one has to wonder what they will think about their freedoms when they get older.
At our house, the Spivack family Nerf wars will continue. I love to see my children, who at a wide range of ages often have a healthy dose of sibling rivalry, band together, plan and execute against their parents to play out the Nerf battles. It’s not about taking down anyone in a blaze of glory – it’s about teamwork, and it’s about family fun, the same way it is when we play Scrabble or Monopoly.
I’d much rather hear “stick ‘em up” coming from the playroom than nothing but the noise from the television and video games.
Shari Spivack is an officer and board member of the most active Second Amendment Rights group in NJ – The New Jersey Second Amendment Society. She is a wife, a mother, a firearms instructor and a regular contributor on firearms related and 2A rights issues.
New Jersey Second Amendment Society – Our mission is to promote the free exercise of Second Amendment rights within the community and Legislature of New Jersey, to educate the community regarding the enjoyable, safe, and responsible use of firearms, and to engender a sense of camaraderie and fellowship among the members and their families. Visit: www.nj2as.comAbout:
New Jersey Second Amendment Society – Our mission is to promote the free exercise of Second Amendment rights within the community and Legislature of New Jersey, to educate the community regarding the enjoyable, safe, and responsible use of firearms, and to engender a sense of camaraderie and fellowship among the members and their families. Visit: www.nj2as.com