Children and toy guns

This weekend when I went to my parents we popped into a shop to get a couple of new bits to play with in the garden. We grabbed a ball and bubbles and then my mum picked up some water pistols. Despite knowing that both boys would probably love them, I asked her not to buy them.

Toy guns(and other weapons) have been around for a long time. Last year The Museum of Childhood actually had an exhibition exploring warfare in childrens play from 1800, so it has always been there. We all probably played with the in some form as children, water pistols being the perfect example and i certainly remember boys in our playground pretending sticks were guns or swords.

Seb isn't interested in playing with these toys yet, he knows what swords are but not guns(as far as I know) which made it easy to say no to my mum but I'm unsure what I will say when he(or Alex) actually becomes interested in playing with them.

On the one hand the idea of my innocent little boys playing with weapons is disturbing. Violence isn't something they've ever seen and I would like to shield them from it as long as possible. It is odd to think of your children playing in that kind of way.

But on the other hand if they want to play with guns or swords then they will find ways of doing it even if I said no, in fact it will probably make it more appealing. Sticks, hands and Lego can all easily be made into weapon shapes so they don't need to actually own toy weapons to play with them. It is a form of role play(pirates, cowboys, cops and robbers) which has so many positive points to it and nobody is actually getting hurt.
I personally don't think it increases the liklihood of a child become a violent adult, if that was the case then the majority of my peers(myself included) would be violent.

I'm still unsure how I will handle this when it comes up. I can't see myself buying toy guns but nor can I see myself putting a ban on them.

How do you feel about children playing with toy guns and other weapons?

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