Even in an age when eight-year-olds are expert video gamers, if you're a kid (or a 28-year-old blogger playing with your nephews) nothing beats an old-fashioned game of Cops and Robbers (or Jack Bauer vs. shady terrorist masterminds). But that doesn't sit well with liberal parents who abhor "gun violence." So what do you do if you're a liberal TV pundit like George Washington University's Jonathan Turley and your kids won't take the hint when you take away their toy guns and swords and other toy "weapons"?
Well, the law professor wrote yesterday about how he stopped worrying and learned to accept that little boys like to play with toy guns (in his kids' case more often with toy swords/lightsabers). He found that, surprise, surprise, little boys often act out good vs. evil dramas with their toy gun or sword play, and for some darn reason, it seems natural for them to do so:
As one of five kids (with two older brothers), I grew up in a liberal, no-guns household in Chicago in the 1960s. My mother considered it her duty to smash any squirt gun we brought into the house. In looking back, though, I'm sure that her gun-free policy made us all the more obsessed with the toys. My kids, on the other hand, show no such fixation. They rarely play gun games (sword fights are more common) and are more inclined to hunt for valuable rocks on the playground or convert our best linens into makeshift yurts in the living room.
Still, when their best friend recently invited them to his Army-themed birthday party, it didn't bother us a bit (though some parents did refuse to let their children attend). In fact, I was struck by how, more than combat fighting, the boys tended to act out scenes involving rescuing comrades or defending the wounded. What I saw was not boys experimenting with carnage and slaughter, but modeling notions of courage and sacrifice. They were trying to experience the emotions at the extremes of human conduct: facing and overcoming fear to remain faithful to their fellow soldiers.
Well, today Turley discussed his column in a live chat at the Washington Post's Web page, and his first question came from a liberal anti-toy gun mother who hates the idea of having toy guns in her house. Oh, and she just happens to be a former newspaper reporter::
...my husband and I really just didn't like the idea of having even toy guns in our house. So we followed the idea developed by the Lion and Lamb group (which since has disbanded): if our kids wanted to make a gun from Legos, okay, but once they were done using the Legos to make a gun the Legos could be back to just being Legos. Same thing with toast (which my son bit into gun shapes at times). He could always eat the toast! But toy guns are toy guns. They can't be anything else. To me, allowing kids to create their own guns from materials that could always be transformed to something else seems to provide a workable compromise on the toy gun issue. Your thoughts?
Author's Note (Ken Shepherd | 2/27/2007, 17:30 EST): References to Turley as a "Fox News contributor" that appeared in the original post were altered to more accurately reflect Turley's relationship to the network as a recurring guest who offers analysis on legal news developments. I apologize for any confusion caused by using the "contributor" label which may have incorrectly implied an official connection between Turley and the news agency.