Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Why I let my kids play with guns

Chances are, if you're reading this, you are OK with guns. Are you OK with guns in the hands of your child? I am. There are a few reasons why I will let my kids play with toy guns and shoot real guns. This is written specifically as a response to an article found here:

First and foremost is that it builds confidence and it inspires a desire to build on skillsets that have long lasting character development especially in moral intelligence. Guns, or at least gunplay is a catalyst for learning and experiencing good and evil. What's right, what's wrong. As a boy growing up, I got to sit and watch Die Hard and T2 with my dad. I cherish those moments, because that was fun time with my dad. My younger brother, Me, and my dad would play good guy/bad guy and pretend to shoot each other. Of course, my mother was always around tempering and balancing so we got a good dose of piano lessons, painting lessons, and swimming lessons too. Later as we grew up, we became more serious with firearms. If the liberal anti-gun groups' theories of cause and effect are right - then we'd be psychopathic gun-crazy wife-beaters who rob banks and punch people in the face (instead its my wife who beats me down, my kids who rob me, and my dog who punches me in the face with his tongue).

Instead, my bro is a missionary in dangerous places (I have no doubts he has the skillsets to protect his family, himself and the villagers he works with). My sister is a lawyer, and I am a Bad Ass Mofo who just punches bad people in the face. My now-retired parents, they just reads books on their iPADs, garden and bicker with each other. But my dad is still pretty good behind a gun. None of us are violent people, none of us have wanton disregard for government or the law. What playing with toy guns enabled us, as kids to do was explore cause and effect. You pretend to shoot somebody, they pretend to get shot (it also had the added benefit of us being outside climbing trees, hiding in ditches, hiding behind cars - which later in my life became, finding a sniper hide, hunkering down in trenches and foxholes, and using barricades as concealment). Where the moral intelligence piece comes in, is the careful cultivation of discernment between what is right, and what is wrong. I hope we all have the fundamental belief system that we would do whatever it takes to protect our own. I also hope we all have the fundamental belief that we should right injustices wherever it may be, with whatever instrument we have at our use; whether its through Jurisprudence, Faith-based Missionary work, or Peacekeeping. Does that mean we are teaching our kids that guns and gun violence are the answer to injustice? Seriously, who thinks like that? Take a tactical course, take a gun course, take a use of force continuum course - they all advocate increasing the violence of action only when faced with imminent threat to human life - responding in kind.

Now to steer away from the philosophical, and to the practical. My girls, they will grow up with guns in the house. It is a fact of life. They are stored and/or displayed according to laws of our land, and they are discharged within the same parameters as well. My job as a dad is to ensure that its presence is as ubiquitous an object as a circular saw or a lawnmower. It's just a piece of machinery, it requires maintenance (clean and lube), it requires skill and practice to use, and it is something that is to be respected - at all times. It requires proper instruction and mentoring by somebody who knows how to use it.  Before I even let my daughter hold a handgun, there several moments of just talking about it, finding teaching moments at the playground when she sees boys using their pointer fingers and supersoakers. When I finally let her hold the gun, it wasn't the complete assembled piece. Instead, I had detail-stripped the Glock down to its small bits and pieces, laid out on newspaper. In front of it was a cleaning kit, cleaning liquid and lubricant. Her job was to help dad perform care and maintenance on the guns. I did this so that I could mentor her on how a pistol works (trigger press, striker, firing pin, primer, ignites powder, pressure buildup, bullet through barrel, and slide recoil...that's fucking highschool physics and chemistry I'm teaching to a 4 year old). Its very interesting for her to see how these little pieces can come together to make something go boom. For her, its no different than seeing and hearing all the individual musical instruments in an orchestra setting.

Another reason, is that she is handling a firearm, in an inert state, under the direct supervision of a subject matter expert. Finger control, Aiming, Grip, and the firearms safety rules can be discussed in a non threatening learning environment (vice the shooting range where there are lots of bang booms going on, and lots of big people with big guns). If god-forbid she ever comes across a tossed gun in any setting, she would have the knowledge and the practical know-how to make safe, and render it benign to others, and who to contact to safely dispatch of it. She can discern between the myths and whats real and whats not real...

You might be thinking to yourself, "self, how about what this precious little girl wants? why is her bad ass dad forcing her to play with guns?" Am I? Am I forcibly handcuffing her to the Bumbo (Ok maybe she was at that age), but now that she's older - she has demonstrated curiosity in the matter. So, I'd rather that we foster that curiosity into mentored learning, versus self-exploration.

So the last reason why my girls will learn how to care, maintain and shoot firearms is so that they can respect it. Guns are implements or tools that make an action more efficient. In this case, throwing a projectile. To witness the effects resulting from the discharge of a firearms reins in all the suspense of reality that she will encounter throughout her life in media and on the playground regarding gun and gun violence. She will appreciate the visceral finality of pursuing her prey, and knowing how much work it is to get from nature to the table (and that not everything needs to come on Styrofoam trays at Costco) - I'm talking hunting here.

Shooting guns is not just about pointing and shooting. There are lots of body dynamics involved. Hand-eye coordination, breathing, controlling the flight/fight body response mechanism, trigger control, trigger pull, procedural memory, etc. Shooting guns is a discipline that requires consistent quality training, and the satisfaction comes from having the impact where you want it to be. Lastly, they will learn how to shoot, because their Bad Ass Mom is a great shot.


  1. Great to hear that you are taking this seriously, but at the same time, keeping it light and fun for the girls. Also good to hear that it's being done to show them that guns are tools, and as such, deserve respect, just like a table saw.

    Keep up the great work, love reading the blogs!

  2. Likewise...I remember my Dad allowed to strip and clean his pistols long before I was allowed to shoot them.



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