Boys like weapons. Guns, swords, bows and arrows, battle clubs. If they don’t own it, they will invent it from a stone, a piece of wood, a piece of celery, etcetera. I have always found this fact to be amusing, partially because pretending to shoot something never seemed that entertaining to me.
It was all a part of the sheer otherness of boys, and I think I’ve always appreciated it.
Si and I have read bits of pieces of Future Men over the last year or two. I read a couple chapters aloud as we traveled to and from Lake Tahoe for our anniversary trip. As usual, the chapters were thoughtful and made us say hmmmm.
Have you ever known someone in a gun accident? As a child, a boy down the street from us was accidently shot in the leg by a relative in a hunting accident. I will never forget that. And I remember that though someone said that it was a freak accident, in the end, the gun really was pointing at the boy.
Author Doug Wilson’s answer to avoiding hunting accidents and general gun carelessness is to teach boys to play safely even with toy guns. He equates it to the need to keep little girls from abusing their dolls. If we are training our children for real life, we need to think about what they are learning in their play.
Here is an interesting excerpt for a Saturday morning:
[A] boy who is playing with a toy gun should be trained to never use it more freely simply because it is not real. A small boy who is playing war with his brothers should be pointing and blasting away with the best of them. But if a lady from church comes over to visit the young boy’s mother, and is standing in the foyer, and the boy comes up and tries to blow her away, the young warrior’s mother should haul him off to the bedroom to be tried for war crimes. The visitor was a civilian and noncombatant, and Mother should be schooled in the principles of just war theory, and she should enforce the rules.
[C]arelessness with toy guns breeds carelessness with the real thing. When boys are playing at war, the guns should be pointed as they are in a war. When they are not playing at war, but rather hanging around, they should be taught to treat their toy guns with respect and not to casually point one at one of the playmates just to go bang. The reason for this is that such behavior is preparation for a high and noble calling.
Wilson didn’t go into the proper use of swords, slingshots, or other weapons, but the principle, I am sure, should be the same. It makes sense to me that, if we want our future soldiers or hunters to practice gun safety, we should begin training them in their early days.
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