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What to tell a child about pointing toy guns at others?

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by GunGoBoom, Jun 25, 2005.

  1. GunGoBoom

    GunGoBoom member

    Aug 4, 2004
    I don't have children, but being the resident gun nut of the family, I buy my nephews toy guns, and play guns with them in and out of the house when I am visiting them (my brother, sis in law, and nephews). But I've become confused about the best way to teach a kid to be safe with guns, so that as they get older, they will easily transition to the "never point a gun at anything you don't intend to kill or destroy", one of the 4 rules. But there seems to be a lot of gray area between water pistols (which you MUST point at someone, or you ain't gonna get em wet) and other little kids' toy guns that shoot suction cup darts, or don't shoot anything at all, working up to semi-dangerous guns (like airsoft), and then on up to truly dangerous guns wherein the 4 rules must be followed always (bb & pellet guns, and firearms). So, since the oldest kid is only 5, I need a simple, workable rule to explain to him...here are some I have considered for his toy guns:

    1. Do not point them at anyone, unless you're outside of the house and the person has agreed to play guns with you. This "base rule" is one his mom seems to favor.
    2. But what about, do not point them at anyone's head ever, even when playing; point only at their body, and only outside, and only if the person has agreed to play guns with you (I think this rule is necessary so he doesn't shoot people in the eye with suction cup dart guns, as he has me before). But see, now it's started to get too complicated for a 5 year old to understand potentially.

    The rules are gonna change too, as the type of 'toys' change, because if he gets an airsoft at say, age 7, 8, or 9, then he probably shouldn't point those at anybody, ever....or do you think body shots are safe with 250 fps airsoft 6mm pellets? Paintball is easy, becuase you only point it at someone when you are on the paintball course, and thus everyone has their full gear on; otherwise, you treat it just like a firearm - 4 rules; never point it at anyone, period. By that time - age 10, 11, 12 ish, he'd be able to understand more complicated rules, but the problem is that, the rules become simpler, not more complicated, as one grows older and has more dangerous toys, the opposite of what would be convenient for teaching.

    Anyway, just a little confused... basically, what rules have you used with kids, and at what ages, and do you think it is negligent/unsafe to shoot airsoft pellets at one another (assumed you've agreed to a 'fight' and assuming the rule is no head shots)? And this second question is basically a way to ask, with what type of 'toy' is the bright line drawn in the sand, between a 'toy-toy' and a non-toy 'toy', where one follows hard and fast to the 4 rules of firearm safety? And what age would you let a kid of average maturity play with an airsoft - 7, 8, 9, 10, or 11?
  2. RyanM

    RyanM Senior Member

    Jan 4, 2005
    Sounds good to me. When/if he starts using airsofts, the rule should pretty much be the same. Airsoft BBs at typical velocities won't do much more than give you a good sting. Eye protection is mandatory, though, even if you have a "below the neck" rule.

    In fact, requiring the use of goggles while playing with squirt guns might not be a bad idea...

    edit: Oh, and I'd recommend only buying him the clear airsofts, since those are more obviously not a real gun or bb/pellet gun, which not only reduces the chances of the neighbors calling the cops, but should (hopefully) reinforce the difference between "toy" and "potentially lethal tool" to him as well.
  3. ID_shooting

    ID_shooting Participating Member

    Feb 1, 2004
    Boise, ID
    I have often been contemplating this same set of questions. My 3 year old is doing vry good about not touching daddys guns unless I say it is OK, but to help make her feel involved I let her play with the plastic orange barreled, "cowboys and indians" cap gun I use to train the dog with. No caps of course, but she does hold it pretty good for her age. It seems we have to talk about not pointing it at people, dogs, cats, people on the TV, and other things quite often. Sometimes she is good about it, others times, well...she is a typical 3 year old.
  4. Standing Wolf

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

    Dec 24, 2002
    Idahohoho, the jolliest state
    If I'd had children, they wouldn't have had toy guns. They'd have had real guns, complete with all the serious talks about handling them safely, trips to the range, cleaning sessions, et cetera.
  5. LHB1

    LHB1 Active Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    The technique I used with my son many years ago and now with my grandson is to differentiate between "PRETEND" and "REAL". My five year old grandson has no problem differentiating between the two. I started when he was four by pointing out to him that TV cartoons and movies are Pretend and not Real. Told him never to try anything he sees on TV or movie without asking me or his Dad first, ESPECIALLY ABOUT GUNS, because it is NOT real and often not safe. I think the message got thru because sometimes he will remind me that something on a cartoon, a movie, or whatever we are playing is "Just Pretend". The kids of my generation (and previous generations) grew up knowing the vast difference between pretend and real. I think the kids today are even smarter than we were at a given age and will have no problem learning the difference. YMMV

    Good shooting and be safe.

    ps: When my grandson was only four we taught him two real gun rules:
    1. Never point a gun at anyone.
    2. Never play with guns without his Dad or me present.
    He knows the rules and can quote them on request. We hope he will also apply them when we are not around. We take every opportunity to reinforce proper gun safety habits with him.
  6. CentralTexas

    CentralTexas Participating Member

    Jun 2, 2004
    Austin Texas
    Teach them

    the Mozambique drill!
    CT :p
  7. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Administrator Staff Member

    Dec 22, 2002
    Terlingua, TX; Thomasville,GA
    I and neighborhood kids, around the ages of five on up to ten or so, played the proverbial cowboys/Indians games with cap pistols.

    Many of us also had BB guns, and some had access to .22 rifles.

    We had no difficulty in knowing the difference between all of them. We aimed at each other with the cap pistols, but BB guns were definitely a no-no as far as aiming/pointing at one another. And we darned sure knew that the .22s were "for real".

    The deal is, "This is a toy." and, "This is NOT a toy!"

  8. ghost457

    ghost457 New Member

    Jun 22, 2005
    North East Ohio
    sounds like you guys have good ideas, and just so you know, i dont have kids (im 15), but i think that toy guns are a good thing, so that they can do the things with them that they cant with a real weapon, such as the "cowboys vs indians" games, so they can do that without danger so that they dont get the idea of doing it with a real gun. thats what i did until i learned about airsoft, and it worked for me, maybe it will work for your kids.
  9. aerod1

    aerod1 Active Member

    Feb 26, 2003
    Garland, TX
    I agree with Art Eatman.
    As a young boy I grew up playing with and pointing toy guns at my buddies. I did understand the difference between a toy and a real gun. It isn't rocket science.
    I have never hurt another human being with a gun. However, I have shot a lot of "bad guys" with my toy cap pistol.

  10. CAS700850

    CAS700850 Participating Member

    Jul 20, 2004
    Central Ohio
    This topic, or variations on this theme, have come up both in my home, and among my peers. You hear every variation, from "no toy guns ever" to "let them play, they are kids." Personally, I have not yet come up with an answer i like. On one hand, i dislike seeing my older son (age 5) yell "I killed you" and pointing any toy gun at another child. On the other hand, I think back fondley on spending entire days playing war with the neighborhood kids, and the virtual arsenal of toy guns I collected in my childhood years.

    I guess the way i was raised is probably the best a parent, or any adult can do. Recognize and teach the difference between reaility and imaginative play. Keep out of the imaginative play as much as possible, and is comfortable. teach reality with strict, unyielding rules (as we all do anyways). And, try to keep reality and fantasy as seperate as possible, until the child is old enough to know and recognize the distinction on their own.

    And, join in the squit gun battles whenever you can. They are great fun, and build memories for you and the child that will be eternal.
  11. chaim

    chaim Senior Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    Baltimore, MD
    I grew up without guns (parents are anti-gun) so I didn't have to make a distinction. I played with toy guns and a big part of that is pointing them at friends and saying "bang" and them doing the same to you.

    Now I am a gun owner.

    When I have kids my kids will definately learn to shoot. I certainly want them to not only know the safety rules but to totally internalize them.

    While I'm not even married so this is several years off as a real worry, I do think about what I'm going to do about this. I can only think of three solutions to keeping them from getting lax about gun safety with toy guns. First, is no toy guns. Nothing that looks even vaguely like a gun that they might point at a person. Buying a toy gun and saying "don't point it at anyone" is unlikely, and letting them point them at someone then giving them a real gun and saying never point it at someone is too much for young children. The second option is to let them have toy guns, but then make them wait until their teens until they ever touch a real gun (and by then disallow toy guns). The third, and more likely, option is to only buy toy guns that look nothing like real guns. You know the clear red, yellow and green plastic guns that look like some ray gun out of a scifi movie. Nothing black or silver no matter what they are shaped like, and no multicolored toys that are shaped like real guns.
  12. ZenMasterJG

    ZenMasterJG Member

    May 20, 2005
    Hiding between server racks, quietly sobbing.
    I just wanted to say that no airsoft pistol should be pointed at anyone either unless they're in gear similar to paintball -- while a body shot wont do any damage, a shot in the eye can and probably will do a significant ammount. "always aim for the body" is good and all, but accidents happen.

    That said, i like LHB1's suggestion.
  13. Matthew748

    Matthew748 Active Member

    Mar 26, 2005
    I was about to post saying that I do not remember any such talk with my father, but then I really thought about it. When I got to the age that boys play games like army with toy guns my father took me out shooting with him. He set up a plastic jug filled with water on a rotten tree stump and let me shoot it with a 20 gauge shotgun. I still remember how the blast shredded the jug and tore into the old stump. The more I think about it the more I am convinced that this was his way of showing me the difference between play and reality. I am sure it varies child to child and parent to parent, but you may want to consider this approach.
  14. BluesBear

    BluesBear member

    Jul 25, 2003
    The Great Pacific NorthWet
    Get this book

    It's only 4.95 and it's the best money you'll ever spend.

    EVERY parent, school employee or person who's around any children at all should read this book.
  15. Mannlicher

    Mannlicher Senior Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    North Central Florida and Miami Florida
    In my family, there were no toy guns. There were many real ones, but no toys. Dad did not think it was the right way to impart the seriousness of guns. We could, and did, handle the guns, but with Dad being there, and instructing. There were no gun accidents in our home.
  16. robert garner

    robert garner Active Member

    Feb 9, 2004
    columbus georgia
    I remember Mattels "Shootin Shells" and water gun fights;
    However I never gave a toy gun to my son, his first was a
    Red Ryder BB gun, then pellet, now at 10 he's got a 22,
    Never yet "cought" him pointing at an innapropriate target!
    I also believe that they WILL rise to the level you expect of them
  17. dfaugh

    dfaugh Participating Member

    Dec 10, 2004
    Well,this is a tough call

    Spent much of my youth playing "war" with everyone in the neighborhood...We all had small arsenals of toy guns(but mine were the best :D) Don't ever recall having to be told anything when I finally got "real" guns....I think the "PRETEND" vs."REALITY" tactic is best I can think of too. Also like the idea of providing toys that don't really look much like real guns....

    Interestingly, my boys never had toy guns...Their mother wouldn't like it,but we were divorced when they were young...Just not a toy they showed much interest in...They do shoot my "real" guns now, qlthough they don't have high level of interest, beyond being capable of using them in an emergency,or the occasional fun plinking in the back woods...
  18. M2 Carbine

    M2 Carbine Mentor

    May 29, 2003
    Kids are smart enough to understand, this is pretend and this is real.
    I grew up on cap pistols and the Three Stooges. We knew both were pretend. We knew cap pistols didn't hurt you but real guns would and no matter what today's "child experts" say we didn't stick our fingers in each other's eyes because the Three Stooges did it.

    My friend beings his 5-6 year old son to my range. The boy brings his toy guns. No matter how he normally plays with his cap guns and water guns and paint ball guns he understands when we are shooting real guns this isn't play. He is required to, and does, follow proper gun handling rules with his toy guns.
    The only rule we bend for him is when we are shooting he shoots from his place in back of the firing line. :)

    The last time we were shooting we started him shooting his first real gun, a Beretta 22. :)
  19. WESHOOT2

    WESHOOT2 Active Member

    Dec 29, 2002

    I trained my youngest (now gonna be 10) to never point guns at people.
    So she's left outta waterpistol fights, but as soon as her hands are a bit bigger she'll be shootin' (like her big sister -- started at 8, now 20) real ones.

    But not (hopefully, ever) pointing them at people.
  20. chopinbloc

    chopinbloc Senior Member

    Apr 10, 2005
    sweet home arizona
    well, as i don't have kids, maybe i'm not qualified to give advice, but i think the whole "real vs. pretend" issue has some interesting social consequences as well. there are plenty of supposed adults who have difficulty differentiating between real and pretend. mall ninjas are an excellent case in point. certain elected officials have the same difficulty. if more people gave toy guns to their young children, bb guns to adolescents and real guns to teenagers while carefully instructing in the difference between real and pretend, maybe the world would be a slightly better place.

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