I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book. - Groucho Marx

“Hey Kids! Let’s put on a Gun Show!!”: Kids with Guns

by Anthony Galli
May 23, 2014

Nobody can say for certain when boys develop the “warrior” mentality and girls develop the “princess” mentality that are such popular selling points in toy aisles these days. The color schemes of the aisles immediately lure defenseless children into their lair, all luminescent pinks and blues like the notes on the Today show desk of Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie. Or Matt Lauer and Ann Curry. Or Matt Lauer and Meredith Viera.

When did pink and blue become the identifying colors for girls and boys, and when did warriors and princesses take over the toy aisles?

Are toy manufacturers implying that there is something inherent in human nature that makes boys act one way and girls another? Have boys always come out of the womb innately ready to hunt and kill and protect, and girls to cook and sew and make flowers grow, or are we, instead, conditioned to act a certain way through societal expectations and media manipulation?

What makes somebody desire a gun in the first place?

Is every boy born with an instinctual desire to own a gun and shoot something? I wasn’t. Conversely, I also have many female friends who aren’t compelled to cook or raise children. Is there something wrong with us for not conforming to the cultural stereotypes of toy store psychology?

I’m not trying to suggest that there is anything wrong with wanting to shoot things. There are certainly entire geographic regions of America where hunting and fishing are a way of life, and killing things for sport and leisure is ingrained into the culture. Heck, even English aristocracy reveres a good fox hunt.

But, here in America, we take our gun ownership to a whole other level.

It is estimated that there are between 280 and 320 million firearms in America, and that there are 70 to 80 million gun owners. These numbers, however, are approximations, since America doesn’t have a national gun registry, so there is no way of knowing exactly who has a gun, what kind of gun, or how many there are. But, with approximately 316 million people living in America today, we can see that there is roughly 1 gun per citizen. And that’s counting babies. Not bad.

Unfortunately, we also have an inordinately high rate of gun injuries and fatalities. If statistics from a recent American Academy of Pediatrics survey is to be believed, of the 73,000 people treated for firearm-related injuries in 2010, almost 16,000 of them were children. One might think that something needs to be done to protect, at least, children from such high levels of gun violence, but anytime new gun legislation is fed to the public like a red herring, gun sales across the nation rise exponentially.

As long as the American public is not convinced that there is a problem with something, there is a general tendency to ignore any evidence of its existence. In addition, anytime the public is fed misinformation disguised as fact, people are given a tremendous disadvantage when trying to make up their mind. For example, if such a reputable source as the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) should convince you that hunting is safer than, say, golf and cheerleading, or that you are “11 times more likely to be injured playing volleyball,” or that there are more unintentional fatalities from being struck by an object than from being shot by a firearm, why argue? Why resist?

Yes, hunting can be incredibly safe, nobody is arguing that, but to claim that it is safer than volleyball is sort of a strain on credibility. And hilarious.

Nope, America loves its guns, so much so that there are makes and models for everyone. Hey, is your kid getting tired of running around the house and neighborhood with a toy rifle? It’s probably time that he graduates to a youth rifle, and there are plenty on the marketplace to choose from. For example, Crickett Rifles offers “Quality Firearms for America’s Youth,” and advertises itself as “My First Rifle.” Their page of online testimonials includes customers proudly talking about their 7-year-olds with guns, and their 4 ½-year-olds with guns, and, you know, their 6-year-olds with guns.

In fact, Crickett was in the news recently when a 5-year-old boy in Kentucky accidentally shot his 2-year-old sister in the chest and killed her with His First Rifle. It was a gift to the boy last year, and it was leaning up against the wall in the trailer home and it was loaded.

Although federal law prohibits the sale of firearms to anyone under the age of 18, an adult can purchase a gun and give it to a child as a gift. There are no background checks for children.

So, when does it begin? When do little boys get that craving for their first kill? Is it through something they see on TV glorifying firearms as an indispensable element of any pre-teen’s arsenal? Is it just normal to expect children to want firearms, or is it behavior they have learned from movies, music videos, and other mass media outlets?

With so many blockbuster films trading on the end of the world, and crap musical acts like The Black Eyed Peas and Rihanna normalizing the presence of some future world military state in their videos, it’s no wonder that people feel the need to arm themselves and their children.

Joe Camel knew better than anyone; recruit them while they are young.

And don’t even get me started on the zombie apocalypse.

Anthony Galli currently lives in Athens, Georgia. He shares a birthday with his black cat, Magic, and they both claim Wings of Desire as their favorite film. Anthony has published two books of poetry, Amnesia for Insomniacs and Invisible Idiot.