In our luxury entertainment shooting business I observe similarities and differences in our guest’s perspectives and have noticed a trend that I will share with you. This has to do with the juxtaposition of violence and guns in the mindsets of families. I will make some suggestions at the end for peaceful parenting. These are my OPINIONS in response to questions like, “Should I Provide My Children with Toy Guns and Violent Video Games?”
A recent example is of a man who took pictures of his 10-yr-old daughter shooting guns with us and then posted the pictures to his ex-wife’s (daughter’s mother) FaceBook page. The daughter said, “She is going to kill you and then me” indicating that her mother would not approve of her participation in shooting sports. Their families were from a large city with an almost obsolete gun culture. The girl later mentioned a classmate she wished she could bring to the range and shoot. These two violent comments were made casually, and attending family members laughed.
Other clients discuss how much their children love playing violent video games. Most of the people that make violent comments like, “there are a few people I wish we could put out there instead of those targets” or “I need this gun for my drive home, traffic is horrible and this would clear them out” almost always come from people that are not gun owners and live in large cities that have strict gun laws. Some will pick up our yellow training gun (clearly not real) and point it at other people and pretend to shoot them. It seems that because of their disconnect with the “gun culture” they have a more cavalier perspective about the seriousness of firearms.
On the opposite end of the spectrum are clients from more rural areas who own their own guns. They take their children out target shooting or hunting and teach them responsibility at an early age. From these people, I rarely hear comments of violence. When parents of these children see their child looking at our plastic training gun, they remind them not to touch it and to treat it as though it was real. These children never point their finger at other members of the group and jokingly say, “Bang Bang” as though they are shooting them.
Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty are popular video games that are based on aggressively initiating violence. Are they Teaching our Kids To Kill as David Grossman suggests? Of course they are, but it could also be said that martial arts camps for kids are teaching them how to beat up old women. Not everyone that is a fan of Star Trek is a child molester but most child molesters are fans of Star Trek. Correlation does not imply causation. Most immediately motivated violent action is perpetrated by males that are avid enthusiasts of video games. Most also own socks, a cell phone and a hat. We must be very careful not to fall into any logical fallacy traps as we examine this issue, but it is wise to seek out potential causal factors. Of course I NEVER think that laws should be made to force others to act as I think is best.
From these observations I could take a couple routes, one being to draw political conclusions and the other more useful one to make some suggestions for parents. I am a peace-loving guy with experience in the fields of protection, security, law enforcement, shooting instruction, crimes against children investigations, philosophy and other areas that might lend credibility to my suggestions. On the other hand, you might examine how much you are paying for my opinion as you evaluate the worth of my suggestions. 🙂 Better yet, examine carefully what I say and make up your own mind!
Q: Should a child be allowed to have and play with squirt guns, cap guns and violent video games?
A: No, I don’t recommend them. Buy them a real gun instead and teach them the ethical, safe and responsible use. Teach them the non-aggression principal.
Q: Should I allow my child to watch violent movies & play paintball for entertainment?
A: Only if you recognize and consciously desire them to improve their motivation, willingness and skills in killing other human beings. If you are pro-state and are grooming your child to become a soldier “for his motherland & god(s)” your decision will be very different than if you are a peaceful family desiring that your child works as an honestvoluntaryist businessperson. If your child is 16 years old, cognitively mature and you live in a violent place like Rwanda, Detroit or Cuba; perhaps it would be wise to use paintball as a training tool for their self defense. Making a fun game out of killing others? Not my recommendation.
Q: Is it ever OK to kill other human beings?
A: Absolutely, but it is also a sad and unfortunate day if you ever need to. If you are being raped and can stop the attacker only by killing them, I am morally OK with doing so. I won’t get into the controversial arena of professional killers like religious armies, mafias, governments etc, that is too complex an issue for this article and you have not yet purchased a Pale Ale for me.
Q: Well then Shepard, what SHOULD I encourage my children to do for fun?
A: Thanks for asking. I suggest that you model a life of peace, productivity and kindness. Pick a random widow’s yard and spend a morning cleaning it up as a family activity. Read books. Build a fort. Dam the creek. Take your TV to the dump. Ask an old person at a nursing home to tell you about their childhood. Have a competition seeing who can make the most positive impacts on stranger’s days by making passing compliments as you walk by… grocery stores are a great place to do this. Enjoy safety shooting for a day, whether basketball, photography, firearms, billiards or archery. Take a walk in a poor part of town. Pick a topic, flip a coin and have a lively logical argument, incorporating logical fallacy education in the debate. Write a letter to an old friend. Learn to; snake a toilet, change the oil in a car, use a chainsaw, weigh precious metals, identify a scammer, make stuff with duct tape, vise grips and wire. Walk downtown and people-watch, noting characteristics like confidence, depression, stress, likelihood of victimization, financial success, toughness, insecurity, sadness and joy.