Saturday, 10 November 2012

Gun Control

Holding a sniper rifle in my left hand and an assault rifle in my right, I felt like Commander Shepard for a few seconds there.
Sure, I was only holding Nerf toy guns, and I was in the middle of a Harvey Norman and not in some Reaper infested world, but does it matter? Those Nerf guns looked so real – in the sense that they look and feel like the real, albeit futuristic, guns. As someone who spent years in the company of the real people killing apparatuses, I can vouch for the similarities.
However, it is those similarities that take me back, too. Although I spent years with them, I am now utterly disgusted by guns, tools whose sole purpose is to hurt – and quite viciously and literally so – other human beings. You know, people not unlike you and I. So is it alright for me to feel good about holding a toy, a toy that’s although harmless is very obviously modeled after the far from harmless?
Taking the question further, is it alright for me to get toys like this for my son? After all, when I was his age I was yearning for toys like this. Although vastly inferior to today’s flashy offerings, I did enjoy many such toys; yet it is exactly that craving that made me excited, at the time, when the army offered me the real deal. That excitement surely makes the use of a real gun for its true purpose somewhat easier, or at least more acceptable, which leaves me puzzled: would I be a bad parent for getting my son one of these, or would I be a bad parent for depriving my son of a type of toy I had much fun with myself?
I do not have an answer to this question. I’ll go further and state I am probably too traumatized by real life incidents with real life guns to be able to answer it. On the other hand, perhaps it is this trauma that makes me more qualified than most others? Again, I don’t know.
In practical terms, these gun like toys are limited by the fact there is not much a child can shoot at with them. Even assuming you’re relaxed enough to let him shoot at people (in some sort of an organized game), there won’t be that many opportunities for doing so. And then what? The flashy toy would gather dust, mostly.
I might solve the dilemma, to one extent or another, by getting a pair of Nerf water pistols for my son and I to play with on hot days. It could be fun, it will be refreshing, and those pistols do look like the double barreled heavy pistols from Mass Effect, don’t they?

Image: Hasbro

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