I was standing in line at the grocery store Friday night picking up some stuff for Toren’s birthday party. The woman checking out in front of me was chatting with the employee scanning her purchases – I think they were discussing recipes. I wasn’t really paying very close attention. I put all of my groceries on to the conveyor belt and was waiting quietly. After a few minutes, another family pushed their cart up behind mine. It was a mother, her daughter, the daughter’s husband, and the grandson. The grandson looked to be about 5 or 6 and was sitting in the child seat in the cart. I glanced back at them quickly, then turned back around as it was almost my turn to check out.
As the woman in front of me finished up and the employee started scanning my items, I turned around one more time to see the people behind me. Little did I realize that I would be staring down the barrel of a fully automatic assault rifle:
Yep, the 5 or 6 year-old kid was pointing his toy M16 at me and firing away. His parents and grandmother were ignoring him, but for some reason the intent look on his face as he filled me full of 5.56 x 45mm (.223 Remington) bullets repeatedly was a little disturbing. He looked like he was engaged in serious business – destroying the enemy. Apparently the really white guy with the goatee buying groceries was the enemy.
This prompted an obvious thought in my head: Should a kid be allowed to play with a toy like that?
I had toy weapons growing up – guns, knives, swords, etc. I also had army men. By the time I was 7 or 8 I had a BB gun and by about 14 I had a 22 caliber rifle. I never killed anyone, though I did almost shoot one of my best friend’s eyes out (sorry Tyler; I still feel bad about that BB gun fight). I also had a paintball gun and played paintball. I’m not, now, a particularly violent person. In fact, I’m quite anti-guns. But I’m not sure letting kids play with guns increases the odds of violent behavior. Thoughts, anyone?
(Oh, and just so everyone knows, there are no plans to buy Toren any violent toys – no guns, knives, swords, or army men.)