My mom was pretty relaxed during our childhood and only had a few nonnegotiable, never ever going to change, concrete rules. Her biggest: no water guns.
This water gun ban had nothing to do with water shooting toys in general (though with four kids running around it would've made sense that she didn't want the water wars) and everything to do with her firm belief that guns are not toys. We still had all of the same Summer fun, but with water squirters that didn't look like deadly weapons and never trivialized this important topic. We didn't make childhood memories with an object inspired by something that kills kids daily.
We didn't have a gun in our home, but I think my mom's passionate stance on water guns is even more important for those who do. A gun is a serious and powerful object that can permanently destroy lives. The sooner people start taking this topic seriously, the safer our children will be.
Even if they're colorful and super cool, kids shouldn't be playing with water guns because it normalizes the real thing. Kids need to learn that guns aren't toys. There's nothing fun or playful about this serious topic and it doesn't matter if it's a water pistol or a semi-automatic rifle — a firearm isn't a laughing matter.
Each day in the United States, 48 kids and teens are shot either accidentally or intentionally. We tell kids that guns are dangerous, to never touch one if you see one, and to tell an adult immediately if you ever see one at school. At the same time, we are handing them idolized versions of these objects that we're trying to teach them to treat with extreme caution. If a child becomes familiar and comfortable playing toy gun, what's going to stop their inquisitive hand from reaching out for the real thing if it ever crosses his or her path?
These "toys" are also sending mixed messages and diluting the most important ones: guns are no joke. Guns aren't innocent, even if they are "harmless" and in plastic form. These are weapons that can end lives, and as much as we want to teach our kids about gun control and safety, we contradict ourselves the second we allow them to run around with toy versions to shoot their friends.
Popular water guns also make light of a very serious situation. There are some children who will never smile again — all because someone picked up a gun. At the same time, we have little ones playing and laughing over the very thing that is killing other kids. It just isn't right.
So please, think about what you hand your child this Summer.
Image Source: shelgerard