Officer Alex points out why kids should only play with toys that look like toys. Obviously.
There are things that I consider to be true to the point of bordering on being “facts,” but alas, they are not. They are merely opinions. I’m not talking about politics or religion or favorite colors here, though, I’m talking about that hinterland we refer to as “common sense.”
Firetrucks should be red. Dudes should not wear skirts. I don’t believe pregnant women should smoke cigarettes. And kids should not play with toy guns—not replicas, at least.
Be as offended as you choose if you’re a supporter of “high-visibility green” for the nozzle heads, if for whatever reason you want their rides to look like TDOT Help Trucks, or if you think the kilt should be worn by anyone other than a guy actively playing the bagpipes. My passion for the latter, however, is such that I’d take it to the floor of any legislative body in the nation.
A recent settlement was reached in New York State by its attorney general with Amazon, Kmart, and Walmart for selling realistic guns online in contravention of state law, which mandates the toy guns sold there be brightly colored or otherwise distinguishable from real weapons.
I’m seeing articles, columns, and opinion pieces popping up everywhere regarding the claws of “The Nanny State” being sunken yet further into our collective throats by this treachery.
Am I a supporter of “The Nanny State?” Far from it. But in researching examples for this week’s diatribe, I realized that with decade after decade worth of examples of kids being shot over toy guns, it is so common in our culture that I don’t even need to bring up specifics; you know it happens.
Yet here we are, still buying replica pistols for our children and then shaking our fists at the heavens when the all-too-common planetary alignment of wrong places and wrong times puts them into contact with law enforcement by well-intended neighbors or flat-out random encounters with patrol officers.
A cop perceives a deadly weapon, not the age of the possessor of such. This is called “reality.” If possible a verbal command is given, and in most cases a “child” (from a five year old to a 15-year-old 195lb. “baby”) freezes as young people tend to do—and they are wounded or killed for not dropping it or pointing the “gun” towards officers as they have been indirectly taught to so by their parents—because what else are toy guns used for other than pointing at each other to simulate shooting?
Are cops trained to shoot 5 to 15 year olds? NO. Don’t start that. But they are trained to react to deadly weapons, and I can tell you from experience, we don’t usually get to inspect the other guy’s pistol or rifle prior to a firefight.
And given these weapons’ historical tendency to kill or maim, cops have to err on the side of caution. And is it difficult? Well, let’s point a pistol at your head and see where your concentration goes. (*Hint: That $@#% is downright distracting.)
I have a home with handguns in it. I’ve raised two boys. My point?
At no time did I think it was reasonable to expect a child who thought the puppets on “Sesame Street” were real to know that there is a difference between a fake gun and a real gun. And conversely, as that child got older?
At no time did I expect a police officer to have to look at a 12-year-old “child” and decide if it’s a fake gun or a real gun.
The world is more complicated than you think it is, particularly during the one-to-two split seconds when you believe someone may be trying to kill you, and kids should not be set up to fail by their parents, no matter how good their intentions are.
Guns in my opinion are not toys. I actually believe most people would agree on that. So, despite this, when parents insist on teaching kids that they are with the purchase of a “realistic fake one,” at least give the kid (and the cop) a fighting chance by making it yellow or orange or both, and leave the attorney general alone.
The parents really are the problem in this case—not the laws.
When officer Alexander D. Teach is not patrolling our fair city on the heels of the criminal element, he spends his spare time volunteering for the Boehm Birth Defects Center.
Photo by Travis Grawey