Saturday, March 29, 2008

Three-Year-Olds and Guns

So, yesterday had a bit of excitement. Apparently Elizabeth, a week shy of turning four, decided to shoot her toy gun at William's head. Mom was not happy.

Neither was Dad.

As many of you know, I carry. As in heat. Pack. As in pistol. There are exactly two guns in the house. My 9mm pistol and an AR-15. Both are unloaded and locked when they are in the house (unless I'm wearing them - which isn't often or long). My usual routine is to walk in, empty my pockets and lock/stow the gun.

Anyway, guns have been a part of my life since, well, for as long as I can remember. Shooting prairie dogs on the family farm, getting my first bb gun, killing a squirrel and freaking out. All important, gun related moments in my life. But I learned to respect guns. Not play with them. Sure, target shooting is fun and at times it feels like your playing because you enjoy it so much, but guns are dangerous. They can hurt people.

No, I'm not going to rant about "people killing people" and "guns killing people" or anything like that. Instead, I'm going to rant about how we should not have allowed Elizabeth to have a toy gun. Yes, I know, it was just a toy gun. Not even as powerful as a Nerf gun. You squeeze the handle (it's hollow) and a puff of air shoots the little foam dart.

Well, when you have a kid that just doesn't know that guns are guns, you have to live with the consequences. So today, I'm living with the consequences. After the "shooting" yesterday, she sat in time out. She's lucky she didn't an AB (that's code for Ass Beat) from Mom. The gun went into a Ziploc. Dad got home. She got a stern talking to. She almost got an AB from Dad. Mom and Dad made her throw the gun in the trash. She cried. Dad nearly cried, not from her crying, but from being so damn protective of both kids. She had no play time after dinner. No story. And only one round of music instead of two.

I don't know who to be mad at. Her for doing it. Or myself for letting her keep it. I told her she could have a toy gun when she gets older and understands how important it is to be safe with them. And I intend to do that. When she's even older, I'll teach her how to handle real guns. If she wants to.

But for now I need to do my best not to spank her bottom raw. I can only hope the punishment was enough to convey the importance of the situation. Somehow I think she'll forgive and forget before me.

Feel free to say "I told you so" Cinda.

Here's a photo of a similar gun for all you concerned parents out there. Note the age label.


cinda1212 said...

I WOULD NEVER SAY 'I TOLD YOU SO.' But I'm SO glad that you had the response you did. And you got rid of the gun (making her throw it away was even better). I can't agree with you more regarding the toy guns in the house. We won't have them. Ever. For exactly the reasons you talked about. Does Elizabeth know about your real guns in the house? That's the part that scares me to death....


TK42ONE said...

The big one is buried away and I doubt she'd ever be able to use it without help for the next few years. She's not in the house alone for any length of time, so I don't perceive that as an issue. The pistol I carry everyday she sees, but has never asked what it is/looked at it/touched it/etc. And that's a gamble to not say anything about it. I think she's too young right now, but I think when she turns four, there will be some additional conversations we'll need to have with her. And not just about guns, about other things too. She's rapidly approaching that age where she'll be away from mom and dad for longer periods during the day and we'll need to prepare her (and ourselves) for that. I don't want her to grow up, but I also don't want her to be blissfully ignorant.

cinda1212 said...

well, not that you asked for my opinion... but i dont think you can have her see your gun and NOT tell her what it is. As you know, Cooper is also 4. It's SHOCKING to us what he picks up, knows, repeats, understands. I think you'd be surprised what she knows about your gun (she knows what one is, because she has one), but also what she completely doesn't understand (our kids know 'hurt' but not 'dead', for example. they know 'grown up things' but not WHY they're grown up things).

we're dealing with the same kind of kid stuff every day (although not with the gun, obviously). you just never know when she might see it, or see someone else's, and grab it...or whatever. even if she's never said a word to you about it, that doesn't mean she doesn't want to play with it. doens't want to be like daddy and have the gun that daddy has.

cooper (and now kellar!) has climbed on the sink to get to the top of the medicine cabinet to get my allergy medicine - simply becase he knows mama takes it when she doesn't feel good, so it must be OK for cooper, too (thank god for safety caps!). he never said a word about it - EVER - but saw me do it every day, and did it himself on his own. think of that with a gun - and it's a whole different ballgame.

anyway... good luck. and happy birthday to elizabeth this week!