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Back in the day, I remember seeing kids pretend they were cowboys on a western, or cops & robbers and such, but as with everything else in society, times have changed and things are different now. Some things are a “good different”, while others-not so good.

Afterall, with few exceptions, I cant remember the last time I’ve seen some kids running around pretending they were cowboys in a standoff. I mean, with the large selection of shows kids have to watch on television these days, do kids even watch westerns anymore?

For years, I’ve always wondered why toy guns still exist. I have yet to see the beneficial purpose. Of course with the exception of water guns (who doesn’t like a good ol’ water war on a hot sunny day), why would we want to teach our young children that shooting someone or something else is the thing to do? Our children see violence in the movies they watch at home, they see violence in the video games they play,and many parents allow them to play with guns & mimic violence growing up. Why is that? What is the purpose?

If you allow your kids to play with guns, in what manner do they play? Do they pretend to be cops & robbers? Good guys vs. bad guys? Or are they imitating gangsters & thugs they see on tv/movies? & even if they are pretending to be the “good guy”, do you really want your kids to think that as a good guy, the only resort to capturing “bad” guys is by shooting them? After all, good and bad are determined by those observing and many times, those “bad” guys turn out to not be so bad after all.

A lot of people give me the side eye when I request that they don’t purchase any kind of toy gun for my children during holidays or birthdays and explain to them that I will buy almost any kind of toy for their child as a gift, except a gun. Responses such as “they’re just kids” or the most popular “you have to let boys be boys”, or “you’re being too overprotective” make me cringe!

One of my biggest fears is that of my child being in the position of Andy Lopez, a thirteen year old boy who was recently fatally shot by law enforcement, all because he was carrying a toy (pellet) gun that appeared real.

The Santa Rosa Police Department reported that two deputies in a squad car encountered the hoodie-wearing teen who was carrying the gun. According to witness statements, at least one of the officers took cover behind an open front door of the cruiser, and one yelled twice “drop the gun.” The teen allegedly failed to comply with the officers demand, raised the toy gun as he turned toward the officers,at which point one of the officers opened fire, fatally shooting the teen.

Santa Rosa police told the newspaper that the deputy later told investigators he believed his life as well his partner’s was in jeopardy. Only after the shooting did the officers realize that the gun was only a pellet gun; the gun was strikingly similar to an AK-47 rifle. The pellet gun did not have an orange tip like other replica firearms, including the plastic handgun found in the boy’s waistband, police said.

Without going into a deep discussion of guilt or innocence, unfortunately, if the gun did not appear as an obvious fake, and was Being raised/pointed toward the officers as alleged, the officer was justified in firing in effort to protect himself. Sadly, the perceived threat overcame the teen’s age and actual intentions of the teen (which we will never know).

So again I ask, what’s the point of a toy guns? Yes, kids will be kids. However, do we have to increase the chance that they may one day end up in a situation like Andy, by placing a toy/pellet gun in their hand, that’s a replica of the very thing that can so quickly end their lives?

For more info about the Andy Lopez case, click here