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What were parents thinking in giving their son air guns?

Josey1Josey1 Member Posts: 15,758
edited February 2002 in General Discussion
What were parents thinking in giving their son air guns? 01/31/02MY TURN Tom Pixton R ecently three boys were expelled from Lake Oswego High School for shooting Air Soft BB guns at one another at swim practice. I know there has been a fair amount of press and radio talk-show time devoted to this incident, focused mainly on whether it is "fair" to suspend or expel these "good" boys from school. After the tragedy at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., and, closer to home, at Springfield High School, we are quick to take action against children who threaten others with weapons or toy weapons. But I have been thinking mostly about the parents who bought the guns for their son. What in the world were they thinking? Perhaps these parents thought they were just providing toys in the same manner toys were provided to them. But in current times, to put a toy gun in your child's hands, especially in a public place, may amount to reckless endangerment of the child's life, if not mere suspension from school. Our children are facing a different world. Toy air guns have caused injuries and deaths. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Washington School of Medicine, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, published in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics (October 1997), reported that of 101 children hospitalized for air gun injuries, three died, 15 were blinded permanently, 25 suffered permanent visual loss, and half of those 101 needed surgery. Toy guns are now so completely realistic-looking that federal law applies the same penalties for using a look-alike toy replica in the commission of a crime as using the real thing. In March 2000, two Brooklyn teen-agers were shot and killed by undercover narcotics detectives while brandishing toy handguns. In November 1999, in Monterey Park, Calif., a 13-year-old boy was shot twice in the arm by an undercover officer because the boy had a toy gun that looked like a real gun. In March 1997, a 6-year-old's toy gun and a security mix-up led to a major evacuation at the San Jose International Airport. The stories go on and on. In September 1998, a Seattle school district upheld the expulsion of an 11-year-old for carrying a realistic-looking squirt gun to school. "Toys that look like weapons are treated like weapons," said Trevor Neilson, then a district spokesman. What a concept! Toy weapons should be treated like weapons? Is a gun really something to play with? In 30 years of raising seven children, my wife and I never bought any of our children a toy gun of any kind. I taught them, as I was taught, to handle my gun as if it was loaded at all times and to never to allow the gun barrel to be aimed at a person. They learned that a gun is not a toy. Air-powered guns, such as the type purchased by the Lake Oswego parents, shoot plastic pellets at velocities between 200 and 300 feet per second. Reputable manufacturers of replica BB guns put a blaze orange marker at the tip of the barrel to help distinguish the toy from the real thing, but because of the inherent danger of these "toys," some manufacturers will not sell them to minors. I wonder how many other parents out there have bought air guns for their children. I think most children are capable of distinguishing between a toy gun and the real thing. And I don't wish to be cast as a hand-wringing moralist. But clearly, the bounds and attitudes set by parents of children at play last well into maturity. I hope that in most of our homes, one of those attitudes parents will teach is that guns are not toys, and there will never be any confusion between the two. Tom Pixton is a lawyer from West Linn.


  • guns-n-painthorsesguns-n-painthorses Member Posts: 7,041
    edited November -1
    Oh, What a bunch of *. Sorry Nunn, but no other word fits better.
  • bhayes420bhayes420 Member Posts: 1,314 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Guns-n-painthorses, I agree with what you said! We bought our then 6 year old a Red Ryder year before last for Christmas. He knows it isn't a toy. But I will agree with one part of what the guy said. Lots of parents DO buy air guns or BB guns as "toys". BAD MISTAKE! Ours got his to learn how to shoot properly and safely. Figured it was better with something quiet so that he wouldn't flinch and would shoot it enough to become proficient with open sights. He has. Now he (at almost 8 years old)has a .22 and is as safe with it as any adult I know. I am proud of him! Very proud. He was in a wheelchair for the past 4 years (has a degenerative hip condition, released to walk short distances last month), and shooting is one sport he can take part in and enjoy. It has taught him discipline and respect and self-control. Lots of good lessons for ANYONE to learn! But he never treats any gun as a toy. Not even pretend.
  • Mr. LoboMr. Lobo Member Posts: 538 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    I agree. All three of my sons learned gun safety in the back yard with air guns. I am proud of them at the range because they are as safe or safer then the adult shooters there. They have also been taught that no gun, plastic or otherwise is a toy. Maybe if more people took that kind of time with their children we would have less horror stories in the news concerning kids and guns.
  • BlueTicBlueTic Member Posts: 4,072
    edited November -1
    My Girl and Boy started out with a BB GUN. That is the operative word "GUN". Safety first. My boy is 11 and has shot most of my rifles and handguns at the range. Both kids know safety and the proper way to handle a firearm. I keep in mind how my brothers and I used to "play" with our BB guns, so I am trying to teach them the right way. To us they were toys and almost every country boy had one before getting a real .22 or 20ga.Just a note on this. My boy has recently gotten into this War Hammer game, where you buy kits with your armies of trolls (or whatever) and paint them and make battle scenes and stuff. Then you can take them to town and have actual battles with other kids. He is really into it, So I had a little time at work and some scrap stainless and made him a real Battle Axe. I put crude ingraving (thats about all I can do with my boilermaker skills) and got a nice hickory handle from a 12 pound sledge. We still have to add leather to the handle and a few rough carvings, but it is kinda cool. The guys at work kept saying - "Your giving this to your son - he will hurt somebody - or himself". At some point you have to trust your children, and show that trust. Of course I did dull the blades (per my wifes instructions - dang women).
  • offerorofferor Member Posts: 9,168
    edited November -1
    When I was a kid in the 50s my brother and I got toy guns for Christmas about every year. At that time, companies like Mattel were producing all kinds of great guns and the TV ads were all over the place on Saturday mornings. There was Steve McQueen's Dead or Alive gun, Josh Randall's The Rifleman rifle with the 0-shaped lever action, the Mattel Fanner 50 (kids on TV were shown quick-drawing and fanning the hammer), and some beautiful derringers, pepperboxes, long handguns, and every conceivable variation, including two-gun holster sets and belt buckle guns. There were Gene Autry and Roy Rogers models and guns that came with play bullets and brass casings to put them in -- with caps in the middle. Some of these toys bring hundreds of dollars now on eBay. I recently sold my original Colt .44 toy over there for $100. If you want a walk down memory lane sometime, go over there and check out the Toys section and type a search for the words (gun,pistol,revolver). In fact, I'll help you out. Put this single string in your URL address box -- make sure to get it all when you copy & paste:,pistol,revolver)&categoryid=&ht=1&category0=220&maxRecordsPerPage=100&SortProperty=MetaEndS ort&submit=Search&BasicSearch=
    I haven't even mentioned the BB guns I shot on the farm when I got a couple years older. My grandpa got mad when I broke his rain gauge, but other than that I had a ball. Brings to mind little Ralphie on A CHRISTMAS STORY. Anyway, I have a hard time buying the current PC climate on this, but I do agree that a BB gun is not a toy and should be handled with great care like any other gun. Some of them are MUCH more powerful than others, certainly more powerful than the ones of my day. Heck, I've got one pistol now that all I need for a backdrop is a grocery sack full of newspaper behind a paper target. I really hope we don't wind up a nation of sheep. We'll get sheared for sure.
    "The 2nd Amendment is about defense, not hunting. Long live the gun shows, and reasonable access to FFLs. Join the NRA -- I'm a Life Member."
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