I caught this headline yesterday, the NRA picked it up this morning on Twitter.
7-year-old Maryland boy suspended for shaping pastry into gun – (via @WashTimes)
This boggles my mind. It’s almost as bad as the boy being suspended from making a gun with his index finger.
Or the Canadian boy last year whose parents home was raided because the boy drew a picture of a gun in school on a piece of paper. Uh… hello? It was a picture! (There’s more to the story and I’m oversimplifying the Canadian case a little. If you’re interested, you can find the original article in the archive section of this blog.)
Guns are in our culture, they are in every cop show, they’re romanticized, demonized, and endlessly discussed in the media.
As an aside, I happened to catch an episode of Hawaii Five-O a few weeks back.
There was a very interesting exchange between the two main characters, I don’t remember the whole thing exactly but it was something like “you’re a cop how can you not like guns?”, The other characters said “I use a gun as part of my job but that doesn’t mean I have to like guns.”
I remember that caught my attention because it was unusual for a cop show to address the gun issue and I wondered if the actor(s) or writers were taking a bit of a stand. I wondered if the actor who played the character not liking guns was making a personal statement for himself in the show with the help of the writers.
Either way, I liked the delivery. I thought it was reasonable, not preachy and pretty adult in it’s message. It also happened that it mirrors my own opinions about guns. They’re tools. Shooting at a target range is fun, a gun is a tool that facilitates shooting at the target range. I might like a particular gun, or a certain gun might have sentimental value to me. But that’s about as far as it goes. I am by no means and don’t anticipate becoming a collector / ammo hoarder with a walk in gun safe
There are pictures of guns almost daily in the newspapers in this country.
We shouldn’t be surprised that our kids would be curious.
The problem I see with the irrational behavior exhibited in these instances is that we add to the mystique of guns.
What lesson are we teaching a 7 year old by suspending him? Are we saying that guns are mysterious, forbidden, frightening, and therefore ultimately desirable?
Will this child learn the lesson that he can get out of school anytime he wants by presenting any remotely pseudo gun like object in class? Where will that lead?
Will this child and his peers ultimately decide that a gun is the most sought after object they can acquire? If so, doesn’t that logically increase the probability of children accidentally shooting each other?
Water pistols will soon be making their annual appearance.
How do we as a society justify water guns being sold at Toys r Us and Walgreens, as toys and at the same time suspend kids for making croissant or finger guns?
I personally think making gang hand signs is far more damaging and deserving of sanction but that’s my opinion.
How about the schools, instead of freaking out, do something like actually teach the kids why they’re concerned?
Why not teach children what guns are used for, (hunting, law enforcement, military actions,) etc?
How about teaching kids the dangers of guns and that they’re loud and smelly. (Gunpowder smoke isn’t all that pleasant, when I was a kid I didn’t like the smell, now… Well it’s not a problem.)
I’d say get law enforcement involved, have them speak to the kids about guns and why they carry them.
Have local gun clubs or ranges put on demonstrations so the kids have a very clear idea about what a gun is, how much damage a gun can cause and why the children should be very careful if they find themselves around guns.
Even if none of the above was possible, I think it would be far more responsible for schools to teach kids something useful, like what to do if they happen to find an unattended gun or even just bullets.
Useful information like;
Leave the area
Go find an adult and tell them where the gun/bullets are.
It’s not necessary to dwell on the negative. Criminals will provide ample examples of misuse via the daily news.
Instead of increasing the mystique, lets dispel it.
Lets teach the kids that a gun is a tool. Most children are less than interested in operating a shovel, rake, or lawnmower.
If we could put guns in the same context it would be far more effective at curbing children’s curiosity than completely disproportionate and frankly silly responses from adults and educators.
I swear! I’d no sooner pressed “Publish” on this entry when I saw this in Twitter.
A sixteen year old student has been suspended for disarming another student on a school bus.
But wait it gets better! Our suspended student was one of three suspended for disarming a fellow student that was pointing a loaded .22 caliber at another students head and threatening to kill him.
The gun toting student was arrested.
The referral slip for the kid that disarmed the would-be shooter, stated that he’d been suspended for being involved in an incident with a gun.
Again what are we trying to teach our children? We say you should be responsible, get involved, prevent bullying, and when kids actually do behave bravely and with honor doing what we tell them is the right thing…
We punish them!
Folks this really is not the way to instill higher values in our children or in our society.