Guns are an explosive issue at our house, especially toy guns for kids. Compared to my conservative, gun-lovin' redneck, Montana-cowboy husband, I'm a fancy, anti-gun purist, city-girl liberal.
Since we moved out to the country, my way of thinking has come around a bit. I learned how to handle shotguns. I have come to understand the need for protection when we are so isolated. Not only have there been a string of robberies out yonder, but also the gangs we have out here are the four-legged coyote kind.
I went from Zsa Zsa Gabor to Annie Oakley. Still, this has been a big adjustment for me. So now I have to figure out how to handle this with my son.
Liam is almost 2. He wants to hold the video game rifle to play Big Buck Hunter. I'll admit, I'm the guilty party who has demonstrated how to do this. I am addicted to the game. I often get the high scores. When we go to this particular place, I feed the machine. Liam sees Mommy holding the gun.
The little devil on my shoulder dares me to go ahead, give the kid the plastic gun — what could hurt? It's just a toy! The white angel counters that I should do the right thing and give him another toy instead.
I've decided that I'm going to let him play with toy guns, so long as they are obviously toys. My primary justification is geography and lifestyle. If my family had to move to the inner city, I would probably change my mind.
Farm kids learn how to hunt. With that, Liam will learn how to respect weapons. That respect includes a gun safe. Period. It also includes my learning how to cook whatever is killed. Nothing will go to waste.
No child should have a realistic-looking toy weapon, especially in the city. No cop should ever be put at risk because a toy may or may not appear real.
Our attitude toward guns is a kissing cousin to our attitude toward toys. Generations before us grew up with the Lone Ranger, Bonanza and Roy Rogers.
They played cowboys and Indians. That didn't cause an epidemic of people strapping on pistols and heading out to the reservations.
In the U.S., we have the right to bear arms, just as we have the right to free speech. As members of the press, we are not allowed to incite a riot. We cannot commit slander or libel.
I believe Americans should have similar limitations on the second amendment. For example, it should not be OK to carry an Uzi in downtown Chicago.
These same kinds of limitations should be carried through to what we allow our children. It is all about parenting. We want them to talk, and we teach them there are things they are not allowed to say.
If we put limits on the kinds of toy guns we give our kids, and also how they play with them, kids will learn to respect them.
It used to be that the only dead birds I was exposed to were either at KFC or the feathers on my frou frou slippers. It won't be long, though, before Liam brings them home for dinner.
Where is Julia Child when I need her?