Save the Skeet!*

I got a Wii for Mother’s Day. Not a spa day. Not flowers. I DID get chocolate.

Chocolate and a Wii.

Exactly what I wanted.

While we have been playing tennis and driving Mario around goofy worlds and generally having a blast as a family, one game stopped me in my tracks.

Skeet Shooting.

Stupid. I know.

I played duck hunt as a kid. I remember the “X”s over the dead duck’s eyes. I think there was a dog. He was cute.

But I have issues with my kids shooting and playing with guns for ‘fun.’

It’s one of the things my husband and I really don’t agree on. Well, we agree to a degree, but not entirely. He’s fine with  skeet shooting. Didn’t even blink when I said ‘should we let the 5-year old skeet shoot on Wii?’

Thoughts in my head included -is it only skeet? Will he then want to shoot everything? Do I have to talk (again) about shooting and guns and safety and danger…because I am tired and I really don’t know if I have the energy RIGHT NOW to do this simply because I’m letting him play on the Wii.

Let it be know, so you are not confused and can yell at my hippie, liberal, California ass properly : I hate guns.

I hate them.

I am not from a family that hunts. I am not from a family that had a gun at home. I am not a fan.

I have had a gun held to my head.

I. Hate. Guns.

However (and this is a big however) my husband is from a family that hunts. He has attempted to convince me that shooting out back with Grandpa is an entirely acceptable past-time when we take the kids to visit the in-laws.

As you can imagine, this makes me not want to take the kids to visit the in-laws. Ever.

Of course I am not insane (mostly) and will compromise on some basic things. I’ve grilled my father-in-law as to the location and security of every gun he owns or every gun that is anywhere within 1 mile of my children.

I’ve conceded that I can see the benefit of teaching the children (I say that on purpose, because only my son is ever discussed when ‘shooting’ comes up and I think both kids need to be included) gun safety.

I have agreed that when it is age appropriate that whole ‘grandpa can teach you about guns’ thing can occur.

Then I mutter under my breath about how wrong it all seems to give a kid a gun, even if I agree education is necessary.

I’ve never allowed toy guns at home. NOT because I’m some crazy lunatic who thinks my kids will grow up violent having played with a toy gun-but because I know full well my kids will figure out guns and what they do in their own time. I am not going to speed up this process and encourage the ‘let’s run around and pretend to kill eachother’ game.

My son already turns sticks into guns. My son already talks about guns and shooting bad guys. He got there entirely on his own having never had a toy gun at home. Why would I have voluntarily given him one at 2 or 3-years old to encourage or speed up the process?

Which brings me back to the Wii.

In the end, we shot some skeet with our controllers. And my son took way too much pride in ‘accidentally’ nailing a duck.

However, he got very upset when his sister ‘accidentally’ shot a photo of his Mii (or avatar) smiling on one of the discs.

“Mom,” he said. “If that was real I would be dead. And I don’t want to be dead. Let’s play something else.”

Victory. Maybe.

*post title by Lee Stranahan, after we discussed the Wii Skeet issue on Twitter.com 

Comments

  1. This reminds me of a point Christine Cavalier, a tech-savvy mother, made recently during a talk about the parent-child dynamic on the Internet. She made the point that the kids know all about the pedophiles: the truth about how rare they are, the defensive measures they take on their own initiative (checking the “married” box), and how they each have the other’s back. So while they appreciate the concern, mom (they say), you needn’t lose sleep over it. They’ve got the situation in hand.
    Likewise, your boy knows all he needs to know about guns — those mythical killing devices. I say “mythical” because I’ll bet throughout his life not one gun has been anywhere near your house (though you don’t specify that). They’re something people use on TV. And in games.
    No wonder he wanted to set you at ease by concluding that game that way. You were probably visibly freaked. And he saw that.
    He’s got your back, mom.

  2. Would you propose an abstinence only gun education program? Can you argue against the idea that an informed person is an equipped person? Will you let your children learn to drive, even if only recreationally?

    My point is that pretending to shoot a gun has as much cause and effect connection as teaching about condoms and having sex… Or playing racing games and stealing the family car.

    Shooting skeet is not the same as shooting people either.

  3. I live in Wisconsin and guns are their own religion here. I have such mixed feelings on guns around my children, but I also trust my husband (I say my husband because after a VERY brief stint in ROTC, I will NEVER shoot a gun again) to a) use them responsibly and b) teach our children about them properly. I have mixed feelings about this – I worry about our children going to a friend’s house after never having seen a gun and being the curious kid who wants to investigate the foreign object (therefore having exposure would be beneficial), but on the other hand, I have nightmares about my child ever using a gun to do harm to another person.

    It’s a tough subject, but more to the point of the post, a) skeet shooting isn’t ANYTHING like shooting anything alive and b) fake skeet shooting on wii more brings to mind my feelings about video games in general (hate them) than anything regarding guns and my children.

    Very interesting post, though – thanks for making me examine my thoughts on this again…….

  4. My son was carrying round a stick today..it was his ‘blaster’ –

    We have not toy guns..oh one from a halloween costume..but they BLAST everything anyway…

    hard to escape

  5. Sherrie says:

    We’ve never let the kids have toy guys….however on that note my in-laws did find one of my husbands old HUGE water gun thingys. Well My FIL being the avid hunter has 3/4 deer heads on the walls, and we’ve told them they can shoot the deer but that’s it we DON’T SHOOT PEOPLE!!! We’ve not had a problem yet *knocks on wood*

    I believe the major thing is education and trust. I will educate myself and my kids & I will trust them not to do anything stupid, to an extent.

  6. I’m with you. I grew up with the “no guns as toys” rule (though super soakers were exempt). Now that I’m a parent I don’t plan to allow guns (pretend or real) in my home either.

    I think there is a big difference between a child using his or her imagination to pretend that a stick is a gun and a parent sanctioning or encouraging violent play by handing them toy guns, soldiers, etc.

    As my kids grow I’m sure we’ll do our best to talk about guns, (both the risks and why society has them) in an age appropriate way just like we’ll talk about sex, drugs, and a bunch of other tricky subjects.

  7. I was raised in a similar family, my father is a farm kid that hunted and raised their own meat for the table. My mother was raised in the city and saved every animal she found. She does not like guns, my dad collects them. We were taken as young children to do target practice and skeet shooting. My mother would not let my brother have play guns, but he made every stick or similar type toy into a gun so she eventually gave up and let him have a toy gun.

    We were allowed to play with fake guns but were never allowed to aim them at people or animals. From a young age we were trained to handle a gun properly and show it the respect it deserves. My sister and I love to skeet shoot. We all have guns and my sister married a police officer. My mother hasn’t changed her feelings about guns or hunting. She is not scared of them and has done some shooting, but feels that she could never shoot a person in self defense.

    I feel that children should be taught to use a gun properly, allowed to shoot a gun, and trained how to safely handle one and the damage a gun is able to do. If children are taught this then they lose that fascination to play with a gun or unwisely handle it. Yes, children are children and accidents can happen, that is why the adults must also wisely store and handle the guns with children in the house. They are just less likely to be in awe of one if they have held and shot one before.

  8. Jo MacD says:

    My two cents: we have a “guns hurt people, they are not toys” policy in our house. We don’t play guns, we don’t have games that use guns, and our kids don’t watch tv shows or movies in which people use guns.

    In 1996 there was a mass shooting in our country in which 35 people died. In response, the govt banned semi-automatic and pump-action rifles and shotguns (automatic weapons were already banned). Since that time we have had no mass shootings, and a significant reduction in homicides and total suicides.

    I believe that the less access my kids have to guns, and the less comfortable they are around them, and the less they associate them with games or with power or with excitement, the safer they are. But that’s just me :)

  9. There are no real or toy guns in our house. When playing at a friends home, my daughter tells them our rules because it is so ingrained in her – no real guns, squirt guns, toy guns, or FPS/video game guns allowed AT ALL.

    I just got a XBOX 360 for my birthday and we picked up the Lego Star Wars game. No blood, no dying (you come back with just a little less ‘money’) and for the most part you fight with the wireless controller and an on-screen lightsaber. My almost-7 year old daughter loves it, but then I realized that she got *too* excited about killing the other characters, not solving the puzzles like I had hoped.

    OMG, what did I do?

    For her, it’s not the weapon – a magic spell in WoW, or a lightsaber in Star Wars – that is the issue, but the actual act of killing someone/something that we needed to address. My family are *gamers* (3 consoles and PC/Mac platforms), and she has been taught from birth that games are games and it’s not real life. “Games you can turn off but real life hurts forever” she tells me. She understands.

    I don’t believe that listening to Ozzy makes kids kill themselves (or others), and I don’t believe that violent video games does it either. It’s just part of the equation. I hate to stereotype and say girls/women are probably not as prone to the gun violence as boys/men are, but times are changing. We don’t fully know the result of girls being brought up with simulated violence. I think we are just seeing the beginnings of it.

  10. ill probably get a lot of hell from all of you guys but here it goes. ive been hunting and shooting since i was 14 and have taught my boys to hunt and shoot. 1 is 20 the other is 14. we only shoot at what we plan on eating no killing for fun. the cost of meat is a lot and venison is much healthier, no hormones. we have a neighbor who got his son an air rifle, this kid does not repeat does not know how to handle it at all. he is a year older than my 14 year old. he has come over to my place flinging thios gun around like its a toy. it is not a toy period. i have talked to the kids father and i get he knows what he is doing big laugh at that. you cant do anything because it is an air gun so i tell me son to stay away when the other kid has it. education and resposible parenting is what should be done. like i said earlier been hunting and shooting for 35 years and no problem yet (knocks on head). just my 2 cents worth. oh also agree with the video games get the kids outside playing and no shootem up games until 14 at least.

  11. Faron Hicks says:

    Fact: Exposure to firearms is inevitable in this world.
    Fact: Laws are for the law abiding, so they may have some recourse in restraining the unethical and immoral in our society.

    There is no guaranteed way to ensure that your children will not find themselves in the presence of a firearm at some point. Limiting their exposure to firearms will neither increase nor decrease their level of morality or ethics (or as you said, the possibility that they may one day shoot someone), only good parenting will do that. The best protection you can give is knowledge. Would I gave a 5 year old a firearm? NO. But, I would teach them to handle a firearm and the RESPONSIBILITY that comes with that. That doesn’t mean you have to have a firearm in your home or media that shows representations of firearms, just the knowledge to defend yourself if needed. If only the immoral and unethical are educated about firearms and their use, then the law abiding will forever be victims. Consider this: You say you hate “GUNS” because you had one pointed at your head. What if the person pointing the firearm had every intention of pulling the trigger. And let’s say another person used his “GUN” to defend you, keeping you alive. How would you feel about his “GUN”. It is the person holding the firearm and how he uses it that you should direct your emotional response at.

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