February 8, 2002
We're having a little gun control issue at
My friend Rob and I exchange gifts every
Christmas and birthday. It's always goofy boy stuff, like booze
miniatures, lighters, and cheap action figures. You know, the kind
of stuff a couple of guys in their 40s really need and no one else
will give you.
Rob can also always be counted on to pull a
couple of toy guns from the dollar store out of his loot bag. They
bang, pop, shoot sparks, or otherwise fire projectiles that my
mother would sternly caution could put an eye out. For the rest of
the evening the front room will be filled with suction cup darts,
plastic disks, flying saucers, ping pong balls and other things that
if left under the couch will immediately destroy an unsuspecting
two-hundred dollar vacuum cleaner.
Once the evening is over, all the toy guns
are gathered up and put in a box with all the rest of them from
parties past. After a few years, I've amassed a plastic armory that
would put some small nations to shame.
The problem is, now I don't know how to get
rid of them. I suppose I could just throw them in the garbage, and I
can already hear the collective tongues clucking that these faux
weapons should be melted down into the proverbial plastic plough
But I grew up in the age when every kid had
a brace of cowboy cap guns. Any male my age will instantly recognize
the famous "Johnny Seven" as the dream present. It fired
everything from red anti-tank missiles to green anti-sister
grenades. Any kid who had one was instantly the envy of the
neighbourhood. I looked on eBay today and saw they're still around
from the 60s, except they're now collectors' items and sell for over
Forget RRSP season - I should have sunk all
my money into them.
I suppose those were very different times.
Even though the Vietnam War was on TV every night the streets seemed
safer. It was before drive-by shootings, car jackings and real gun
battles with the police became commonplace. You could take your cap
gun to play in the park with your friends and you weren't
automatically explaining yourself to a SWAT team.
We played "cops and robbers"
instead of "police review board, victim and grief counsellor".
I'm not sure we grew up any the worse for it
But like I said, we now live in very
different times. Even Arnold Schwartzenegger has stopped using guns.
In his new movie, Collateral Damage, he apparently doesn't fire a
shot. After blasting his way through a dozen films, he now only has
his fists, an axe and a few hundred kilos of explosives to make his
point. It's a kinder, gentler way for an action hero to rid the
world of bad guys.
I have friends who won't allow their kids to
play with toy guns. I can't say that I blame them, except they still
seem to be raising little hellions quite content to enthusiastically
karate chop or drop kick their friends, imitating their favourite
wrestler or enraged hockey parent.
All things being equal, I think I'd prefer
they indulge in a little pretend violence at a distance followed by
an Academy Award-winning death scene.
Even so, it may be time to impose an arms
embargo on Rob and hang up my cap guns for good.