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“Pow, Pow, Yous Are Dead!”
Children, Toy Guns, and the Real Thing
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It was a beautiful evening and the kids — Madeline, two; Seamus, almost four; and Rosena, nine — were running across a well-tended town green. Seamus pointed his rainbow flag with the feather handle at his sisters and “pow-powed” them, calling out, “Yous are dead now, guys. I shot yous.”

Madeline and Rosena laughed and just kept on running, with Seamus at their heels. I hid my face in my hands. It wasn’t just that he was playing guns, but that he was using a Pride flag as his gun at a vigil to mourn those killed at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. My pacifist husband Patrick ran to redirect their activities, replacing the flag with a ball and glove and beginning a game of catch. Vigil organizers were taking turns reading the names of those killed into a microphone.

“… Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36
Luis S. Vielma, 22…”

Those three men and 46 others were massacred on June 12th. Another 50 people were wounded. Omar Mateen, who killed them, was armed with a Sig Sauer MCX assault rifle and a Glock 17 9mm semi-automatic pistol. He bought those two weapons legally in the days leading up to the attack.

The carnage brought politicians and pundits out in force, using all the usual arguments for and against guns. Because the victims were mostly gay and mostly Latino, and because the attack was carried out by an American citizen with an ethnic last name who may have been enthralled by Islamic terrorism, or a closeted, self-hating homosexual (or both), the commentary quickly became muddled. Was it a hate crime, Islamic terrorism, or a strange double-bonus hit for the haters? Mateen was killed in a shootout with police and so can’t speak to his motives. Investigators were left to sift through the material evidence and a dizzying compilation of online comments, Facebook likes, and recollections from old co-workers, family members, and possible lovers in their search for answers.

The most essential facts are, however, not that complicated: Mateen had a license to carry a gun, training as a private security guard, and hatreds to act upon. He armed himself and he killed.

And all over the country, since that fateful day that elicited the usual cries of “never again,” the killing continues: Alton Sterling and Philando Castille by the police; Dallas Area Rapid Transit Police Officer Brent Thompson and four Dallas Police officers, Lorne Ahrens, Michael Smith, Michael Krol, and Patrick Zamarripa, by a lone sniper, Micah Johnson, who himself was then killed by an armed police robot; three more police officers in Baton Rouge on July 17th.

“… Montrell Jackson, 32
Matthew Gerald, 41
Brad Garafola, 45…”

And the killing continues. Using the Gun Violence Archive, I counted another 306 deaths by guns throughout the United States in the first eight days of July alone. Most of them weren’t high-profile police shootings or mass tragedies, but in a small-scale and localized way, the grief and outrage of Baton Rouge, St. Paul, and Dallas were replicated in every corner of this country, including Ticfaw, Louisiana; Woodland, California; Tabernacle, New Jersey; and Harvey, Illinois. More than 300 deaths by gun in just eight days.

“Stabbin’ My Bunny”: Teaching Kids About Guns and Violence

And then, of course, there were my kids, my husband, and those “guns.” As a boy, Patrick wasn’t allowed to play with toy guns. Instead, he, his parents, and their friends would go to the mall during the Christmas buying spree to put “Stop War Toys” stickers on Rambo and G.I. Joe action figures. When he went to his friends’ houses, he had to tell them that war toys were verboten.

I grew up in a similar family of activists. We, too, were forbidden toy guns and other war toys. My brother and I were more likely to play games like “protester at the Pentagon” than cops and robbers. I’ve been thinking recently about why toy guns didn’t have a grip on our imaginations as kids. I suspect it was because we understood — were made to understand — what the big gun of U.S. militarism had done in Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Indochina, and throughout Central America. Our dad had seen the big gun of war up close and personal. His finger — the same one he pointed at us when we were in trouble — had pulled the trigger again and again in France during World War II. He was decorated there, but had zero nostalgia for the experience. He was, in fact, deeply ashamed of the dashing figure he had once cut when home from the front. And so, dad screwed up a new kind of courage to say no to war and violence, to killing of any kind. His knowledge of war imbued his nonviolent peace activist mission with a genuine, badass, superhero style swagger.

Our parents — our community of ragtag, countercultural Catholic peace activists — made that no-violence, no-killing, no-matter-what point again and again. In fact, my early experience of guns was the chilling fear of knowing that, in protest, my father, mother, and their friends were walking into what they called “free fire zones” on military bases, where well-armed, well-trained soldiers were licensed to kill intruders. So we didn’t point toy guns at each other. We didn’t pow-pow with our fingers or sticks. We crossed those fingers and hoped that the people we loved would be safe.

Our inner city Baltimore neighborhood, where crack cocaine madness was just taking hold, drove that point home on a micro level. Our house was robbed at gunpoint more than once — and we had so little worth taking. We watched a man across the street bleed to death after being stabbed repeatedly in a fight over nothing. People from our house ran to help and were there for far too long before an ambulance even arrived. We knew as little kids that violence was no laughing matter, nor child’s play. It was serious business and was to be resisted.

As parents tend to do, Patrick and I are passing this tradition on to our kids, hopefully without the emotional scarring that went with our childhoods of resistance. They don’t have guns or action figures or any other toy implements of death. Still, we’ve been watching Seamus, our Team Elsa(from the Disney blockbuster Frozen) son, as he’s recently begun turning every stick into an imaginary gun. This is, of course, happening just as, in the headlines of the moment, actual guns are turning so many previously real people into statistics. Under the circumstances, how could I not find myself thinking about toy guns, real guns, the nature of play, the role of imagination, the place of parents, and how to (or whether to) police (ha!) that imaginary play?

When my stepdaughter Rosena was about four, she found a toy dagger at the playground, somehow smuggled it home, and was stabbing one of her beloved stuffed animals, a bunny, repeatedly with it.

In the other room, I could hear the thumps on the bedroom floor and called out, “What are you doing?”

“Stabbin’ my bunny. I kilt her,” she responded matter-of-factly.

Seizing a “teaching moment” and undoubtedly gripped by my own childhood experiences and memories of my parents, I blustered into the bedroom with a shoebox. “Now, your bunny is dead,” I announced in my version of over-the-top momism. “You know what happens when living things die, right? It’s forever, right? Now, we have to bury her.” Rosena and I then “buried” the doll on a high shelf in her closet. I told her that we cannot hurt or kill the things (or people) we love. I told her that, because she had “killed” that bunny, she could never play with it again.

About a week later, I slipped it back into her toy basket and, when she asked why, assured her that I thought she wouldn’t hurt her toys like that again. She agreed. I recall that episode now with a certain embarrassment, but when I recently heard Rosena explaining death and loss to her little brother and sister, I thought: oh, maybe the drama of the shoebox burial was actually helpful in some fashion.

Toys matter. We’ve put a fair amount of thought into what might be called toy curation in our household. We’ve bought nothing new and little used. Mostly, we’ve accepted shipments of hand-me-downs from friends who just wanted “this crap” out of their houses. No guns came with them, thankfully. After all, even toy guns can mean death under the wrong circumstances.

A year ago, I visited the Cuddell Recreation Center in Cleveland with my daughter Madeline and a group of friends. That broad stretch of ball fields and paths, anchored by a gazebo and a playground, was where 12-year-old Tamir Rice was fatally shot by Officer Timothy Loehmann in November 2014. Rice, an African American, was playing with an Airsoft pellet gun that a friend’s Dad had bought at Walmart. A replica of an actual Colt pistol, it shot plastic pellets and looked pretty real, since the orange tip signifying “toy” was missing. However, Officer Loehmann, investigating a report that a man was carrying a gun in the park, was moving too fast to notice much. He sped up and began shooting even before his squad car stopped moving. Rice’s hands were still reportedly in his pockets.

Though Loehmann was not indicted, the city of Cleveland paid a $6 million settlement to the Rice family and demolished the gazebo where the boy was shot. In the park that day, local activists described the shooting and its aftermath to our group. Half listening, I followed Madeline as she toddled into the playground. I tried to imagine Samaria Rice’s pain in this unremarkable place made part shrine, part soapbox by a police officer’s quick trigger finger, racism, and her son’s blood.

I thought about that toy gun in Tamir Rice’s hand and what might have been going through his head as he pointed it and played with it. Despite the age difference, it couldn’t have been that far from what regularly goes through my son’s head when he picks up a stick and points it: pop, boom, wow! The difference, of course, is that Seamus, blond and freckled and unmistakably white, would run little risk of being shot down by a policeman, even eight years from now with a replica toy gun in his hands.

Blasters, Blasters, Everywhere

Toys are a big business in this country, raking in $19.4 billion in 2015, according to the retail tracking firm NPD Group. Our family is not responsible for even a dime of this. Not surprisingly, then, my announcement that we were all going to spend a rainy afternoon at a local Toys “R” Us store came like a bolt from the blue for the kids.

I wanted to see what kind of toy weaponry was for sale there. I was curious, among other things, about whether the boys at school who had taught Seamus about superheroes, bad guys, and Star Wars had ignited in my son a love of weaponry; I was curious, that is, as to how he would react to the walls of guns I imagined Toys “R” Us displaying.

We got into our car as if it were Christmas Eve, Seamus beside himself with excitement, Madeline on a contact high from her brother. I was experiencing my own contact high, taking my kids on their first research trip.

What we found was not exactly what I expected — on many levels.

Seamus was quickly overwhelmed by the glut of everything — lots of pictures of toys on boxes, but not a lot to pick up. (It was, in that sense, the very opposite of our visits to the Goodwill store, where you can sit on the floor and play with all those second-hand toys as long as you put them back afterwards.) Not so surprisingly, in retrospect, he went straight for what was familiar, what he could grab in his hand and actually look at: the books. It took some effort to wrestle him away from Five Stories About Princesses and enlist him in my quest for bad toys. (Madeline had, by then, fallen asleep.)

I had finally found the Nerf “blasters,” but he wasn’t interested. “Let’s not go down this aisle, okay, Mom?”

I was, of course, looking for the worst of the worst when it came to weaponry, but it proved remarkably hard to find. The aisle did, admittedly, have the Nerf Zombie Strike Doominator and the Nerf Modulus Recon MKII for $34.99 each. Those certainly sounded grim, given the eternal war against the undead, but the bright orange, cartoonish, completely unrealistic “blasters” on display and marketed to kids “eight and up” seemed distant indeed from American gun carnage (and our wars in distant lands), nor was there anything on the packaging that even hinted at real people getting shot in real encounters or real wars. I must admit that I don’t like the idea of Seamus shooting anything at anyone — even a brain-hungry zombie — but as it turned out, I needn’t have worried, not this time around anyway. Zombie-killing wasn’t in his wheelhouse.

Still, I kept looking for the real gun aisle, and I did come across more blasters, dart shooters, and the like, none with the word “gun” on them. Of course, we do live in Connecticut, less than 100 miles from Newtown where, in 2012, Adam Lanza, a devotee of violent video games who grew up in a gun-filled house, killed 20 kids just a little older than Seamus along with six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School. So maybe our local toy outlet was being sensitive, but I doubt it. There was the Halo UNSC SMG Blaster (the initials make it sound extra tough but stand for nothing) for $19.99, and the NERF Star Wars Episode VII First Order Stormtrooper Deluxe Blaster, which fires 12 darts up to 65 feet without reloading, for $41.99. The worst thing I could find was the Xploderz Mayhem, with “more distance, more ammo,” which shoots easy-to-wash off mini-water pellets. It was on clearance for $18.89.

By then, Seamus was pulling me frantically toward the aisle with the full Frozen franchise on display. Madeline was now awake and in heaven.

So I left them there briefly and snuck off to do a last check for “real” toy guns. No such luck. I didn’t find the kind of Airsoft gun Tamir Rice was playing with when he was killed. I didn’t find an ersatz Sig Sauer either.

It turns out that most brick-and-mortar toy stores don’t seem to offer realistic-looking toy weaponry anymore, nor is there the toy store equivalent of the curtained-off area in the old neighborhood video rental shop where the porn was available. For such toys, you have to turn to an online world of websites like Kids-Army.com, where you can indeed buy realistic-looking toy rifles, shotguns, and pistols, or even to Amazon, where you can find an Airsoft version of the Sig Sauer rifle for $249.99.

“Start Them Young”

The National Rifle Association (NRA) would undoubtedly have been disappointed by my local Toys “R” Us outlet — just as its officials undoubtedly are by the way most big toy merchants seem to have left their more realistic guns for the online world. This happened, in part, in response to the sort of social pressure that my husband engaged in when in high school and — more critically — the almost routine horror of the blurred line between toy guns and real ones. You know we’re a quirky, gun-crazy nation when Cleveland could ban toy guns and umbrellas with pointy tips from the area around the Republican Convention in the name of security, but couldn’t keep out the real guns in open-carry Ohio.

The NRA wants kids to play with realistic toy guns and BB guns, since they believe that such toys are part of a child’s initiation into the future ownership of perfectly real guns. At the moment, the gun lobby is concerned that not enough people have guns — even though the 270 million to 310 million of them already amassed around this country (according to the Pew Research Center) could arm just about every man, woman, transgendered person, and child around. Still, despite the fact that Americans can now carry guns in all 50 states and the NRA continues to win most of the big political fights, the number of households with guns is actually down from its peak in the late 1960s (though those that are armed have more and deadlier weapons than ever before). No wonder the gun industry and the gun lobby are fighting to produce an army of toddlers.

Start Them Young,” a February 2016 report from the Violence Policy Center, details how gun manufacturers and the NRA are eager to market real guns to younger and younger consumers. The report starts with a selection of quotes from the industry: including this gem from Craig Cushman, marketing director for Thompson/Center Arms, about their Hot Shot rifle for kids: “[We’re] talking about a tiny gun intended for the very youngest shooters — the ultimate first gun. We’re targeting the six- to 12-year-old range.” In other words, kids are literally in their sights.

It’s a strange world we live in. The toy industry has puffed up and candy-colored its play guns, turned up the volume on the violence online and in video games, and wrapped everything in plastic and safety warnings. At the same time, the gun industry is making its guns smaller and cuter for kids, while putting its energy into the all-important junior market.

Can we be safe — any of us — in a nation awash in guns? The gun-and-ammo industry boasted $16 billion in revenue for 2015. Gun stores — from brick-and-mortar shops to online retailers – had $3.1 billion in revenue that same year. The industry as a whole claimed responsibility for nearly $50 billion in “economic activity” in 2015 alone. That represents a fair number of jobs, but here is the number that really goes boom: $229 billion. That’s the annual cost of fatal and non-fatal gun violence in this country, according to Mother Jonesand analyst Ted Miller of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation who teamed up to crunch the numbers. That figure includes both the direct costs of gun injuries and deaths — police investigations, emergency personnel, hospital bills, long-term care for the injured, funeral expenses for the dead, and the costs of prosecuting and imprisoning the perpetrators. As the report concludes: “Even before accounting for the more intangible costs of the violence… the average cost to taxpayers for a single gun homicide in America is nearly $400,000. And we pay for 32 of them every single day.”

We are awash in guns. Where does it end? Gun violence is imbedded in our national mythology, our foreign policy, our notions of masculinity, our entertainment industry, and our children’s play. We see violence solving problems on every screen — from the zombie apocalypse to the rise of ISIS. Russian playwright Anton Chekhov’s maxim still applies: “One should not put a loaded rifle onto the stage if no one is thinking of firing it.” Sooner or later, that rifle is sure to go off. It might be an accident; it might be terrorism; it might be hate. But it will go off. Somewhere, as you read this, it’s going off right now.

I don’t want to police my kids’ imagination. And there is a whole strain of parenting literature that assures me I don’t have to. It says don’t interfere with your kid’s play, even if it includes guns and shooting and killing. Imagination is imagination and the violence isn’t real. It might even, so this line of thinking goes, be a healthy way for them to process feelings of aggression.

I get what they’re saying, but it seems like a cop-out to me. To my mind, nonintervention is often a missed opportunity to be a parent. Sure, the violence isn’t real. The pow-pows don’t actually rip skin and tendon or stop hearts from beating, but the United States, which has been fighting distant wars nonstop for 15 years now, does have a violence problem and a man problem and a gun problem.

We know where that problem ends, but it starts somewhere, too. One place to begin to look, at least, is at how our kids — particularly our boys — play, and how they are nurtured (or not), and taught to express their emotions (or not). It is, at least in part, up to us, their parents, to decide whether they are going to be the ones who help repair our society and reorient us (or not). And it begins with the kinds of care and love they receive, the kinds of conversations they are invited into, the kinds of expectations they are given about behavior and relationships.

I don’t want to raise Seamus, Madeline, or Rosena in the austere, ripped from the headlines of horror, polemical atmosphere that was the essence of my own childhood. But I don’t want them to get comfortable with killing either.

I want so much more for, and from, my little boy than “Pow, pow, yous are dead now!” And that starts with taking the gun or the stick or the rainbow flag out of his hands, sitting him down, and having a hard conversation about what guns actually do to people– and how much killing hurts us all.

Frida Berrigan, a TomDispatch regular, writes the Little Insurrections blog for WagingNonviolence.org, is the author of It Runs In The Family: On Being Raised By Radicals and Growing Into Rebellious Motherhood, and lives inNew London, Connecticut.

(Republished from TomDispatch by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Gun Control, Terrorism, TomDispatch Archives 
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  1. Polymath says:

    Frida, don’t you agree that SOME people ought to use guns, and be trained, and own them? Don’t you agree that it would not be wrong for a child to have an ambition to grow up and be such a person?

    It seems to me that your emotions about guns are so strong that they are dysfunctional — if most people felt like you do, society would have no way to defend itself from criminals and external enemies.

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  2. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer

    Whatever happened to “Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media?” I could have sworn I’d already heard this article on NPR several times; also I seem to remember bits of it in a very special episode of “The Newsroom” with guest appearances by Ed Begley Jr. and Joy Behar.

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    • Agree: Jacques Sheete
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  3. “well-armed, well-trained soldiers were licensed to kill intruders”

    Couldn’t read any further.
    The ‘soldiers’ at Fort Hood were as helpless – and unarmed – as children when Islamic terrorist Nidal Hassan attacked; he was shot by a civilian cop. Omar Mateen publicly pledged allegiance to Islamic State while committing the Orlando massacre, there’s no ambiguity at all. And of course Islamic terrorists will use planes, trucks, anything they can to commit their atrocities. This article seems completely divorced from reality – and I see from the ending “I want so much more for, and from, my little boy than “Pow, pow, yous are dead now!” And that starts with taking the gun or the stick or the rainbow flag out of his hands, sitting him down, and having a hard conversation about what guns actually do to people– and how much killing hurts us all.” that it doesn’t get any better. This sounds like a mentally ill woman hurting her children.

    (Growing up in Ulster during the Troubles, my own mother wouldn’t let me play with realistic toy guns, apparently thinking soldiers might think they were real.She didn’t seek to take sticks or flags from my hands though!)

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  4. I’m so deeply touched by the profound commitment these three generations of Berrigans have to peace, love, and the brotherhood of person-kind. You go grllll! Kumbaya!

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  5. Ummm… I’m putting my money on the Caliphate. Measure this women for the hajib!

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    • Replies: @Verymuchalive
    It's not often I laugh out loud. Excellent.
    Then, the depressing after thought: was this the attitude of some of the women who were raped in Cologne at New Year by " Refugees. "
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  6. “…where, in 2012, Adam Lanza, a devotee of violent video games who grew up in a gun-filled house, killed 20 kids just a little older than Seamus along with six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School. ”

    __

    False flag. Dig deeper; https://www.google.com/search?q=sandy+hook+false+flag&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8

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  7. Rehmat says:

    Stop shedding your crocodile tears for the victims Frida darling, and think why the FBI told Mateen’s ex-wife not to tell the press that Mateen was himself a GAY?

    Okey, the FBI made an HONEST mistake.

    So, darling, can you explain why Mateen’s so-called 50 victims included a gay by the name Antonio Devon Brown, who was reported shot and killed in 2013 in W. Virginia by a bouncer after he began shooting at Shoop’s Bar in Huntington.

    And if you never heard that “it’s people who kill other people and animals – and not guns.”

    Beside the above truth, you story is as good as a statement from ADL boss Grennblatt.

    https://rehmat1.com/2016/06/21/orlando-gay-nightclub-shooter-also-killed-a-deadman/

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  8. Thank you, UR, for putting the number of words in an article right there for all to see.

    Note to authors.: None of you is the center of the universe and most of your braying is superfluous. If you want folks to read what you think is important, pare it down to the essentials. I even found speed skimming this one to be tiresome.

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    • Replies: @Sayless
    Yes, is she writing a novel or an article?
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  9. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer

    And to think Ginny Thrasher just won America’s first gold medal in the Olympics shooting the air gun.

    Does this make her a potential threat to go on a murderous rampage?

    I think the author needs to disambiguate or disaggregate the statistics. Just who is doing the shooting and who is being shot?

    Unfortunately, screeds such as this, while seemingly harmless because being made up of immaterial fantasy and neurotic longings, are, because of their author’s fanatical insistence on reshaping their environment to accommodate their hysterical urges, the source of great damage to civil society–not to mention the psychological damage she has inflicted on her poor innocent children.

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  10. Sure, nice sentiment, but are you going to take trucks, cars, knives, nails, chains and thousands of other things away from your children because they have been used to kill people? Are you going to remove any vestige of an ideology that has been used to justify killing people? Isn’t the idea to teach the sanctity of life first and foremost along with imparting a better understanding of why others might not share that view?

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  11. Toy guns looked quite real when I was a kid in the ’60s. But you never heard of a cop shooting a child in self-defense.

    We had fathers in those days. That’s the big difference.

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    • Replies: @Chris Mallory
    Cops also weren't cowardly thugs. It is well past time to start disarming cops. Citizens should be armed, not government employees.
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  12. Dr. X says:

    You left-wingers are absolutely sick. YOUR kid stabbed a stuffed bunny to death, and you want to blame ME and my guns with paragraph upon paragraph of incoherent, mind-numbing liberal peace-freak rambling? MY kid never did anything like that, because my kid’s not mentally ill.

    This essay explains why lefties hate guns: they don’t trust themselves with guns, because they know deep down inside how warped they really are. So they project their own inadequacies on everyone else.

    A neighbor of mine is a pacifist, feminist, psychologist and helicopter parent of a young boy. She fed him all that leftist anti-gun crap and never let him “play guns,” either. The kid ended up being an uncontrollable monster in school. He went into his first grade classroom and had a tantrum and screamed that he was going to kill them all. That’s liberal parenting for ya.

    I have many, many guns. I also taught my kid how to use them properly. She’s sane. I’m sane. The Constitution was written for sane people. We love guns. Guns are great.

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  13. unit472 says:

    This woman isn’t a mother. She’s a totalitarian ideologue indoctrinating her children!

    Before there were guns there were knights in armor. Before that gladiators that boys admired. Its part of being a boy. Guns are just the modern equivalent of the lance, the sword or the club.

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  14. Back in the 1950s and 1960s, when I was growing up, violent crime in this country was at its lowest levels ever and in my neighborhood was non-existent. The USA had also, for the most part, avoided overt wars. President Eisenhower managed to end the killing in Korea, avoid a conflict over Suez, restrain the US from a military response to brutal, Soviet military repressions in East Germany and Hungary, and restrain US involvement in southeast Asia to a score or so of military advisors.

    Despite this relatively non-violent period in our nation’s history and the complete lack of violence in my neighborhood, every single boy in my neighborhood – and some of the girls – regularly received toy guns and various related paraphernalia as gifts at Christmas. birthdays and other special occasions. Mattel for several years running annually improved and augmented a set of firearms toys that sold particularly well. Evidently toy guns were a big item on the national market. Something confirmed by the shared experiences of me and my college room mates.

    So toy guns were a universal childhood experience in a period characterized by very low levels of domestic and foreign violence. But now they are quite scarce on the ground when the country is riven by ever rising levels domestic violence and involved in a seemingly numberless and endless series of foreign adventures. Unless Ms. Berrigan can explain this apparent lack of correlation then her causal argument against toy weapons is dead in the water. Hint to Ms. Berrigan correlation is a necessary component of causation.

    Like all “progressive” Ms. Berrigan also exhibits dictatorially totalitarian tendencies that would do a fascist or Stalinist proud. The natural tendency of her children – of all children, in fact — is to act out aggressive tendencies in play. Ms. Berrigan’s natural tendency is evidently to suppress her children’s natural tendencies so that they will grow up with levels of repressed rage similar to her own. Could it be that Ms. Berrigan’s unconscious hope is that this can then be channeled into further “progressive” aggression? I suspect that Ms. Berrigan’s children will need professional counseling to deal with the problems she is creating for them. She herself might consider seeking professional help.

    Finally, I’d point out that most of Ms. Berrigan’s rage seems directed against boys. Anyone who’s observed children realizes that boys are far more aggressive than girls. If denied toy weapons they will improvise them. The font of Western literature contains a recognition of this. Ms. Berrigan might wish to reread how Odyseus recruited Achilles for the Trojan War. Ms. Berrigan is striking deliberately at one of the roots of masculinity. She will probably emasculate her own sons; she may even already have achieved that goal. I don’t want her to blight the lives of any other children.

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    • Replies: @Delinquent Snail
    "She will probably emasculate her own sons; she may even already have achieved that goal." she already dis. Her son sounds like he will be going to the kind of club that was shot up in Orlando.

    This lady is bonkers. Guns dont kill people, people kill people.
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  15. BostonTea says:

    “the number of households with guns is actually down from its peak in the late 1960s”

    Not true.

    First of all, ever since the early 1990s, when then-President Bill Clinton pushed the Brady bill, the federal so-called “assault weapons” and “large” ammunition magazine ban, and regulations that drove many gun dealers out of business, many gun owners have not identified themselves as such during the surveys. For example, during the first three years of Clinton’s war on guns, Gallup surveys found that the share of people acknowledging that they had guns in their homes dropped from 51 percent to 38 percent.

    Furthermore, CBS News poll, conducted right after the terrorist attack on a night club in Orlando, with President Obama and others calling for gun control, found that the percentage of households with at least one gun owner had declined 10 percent since 2012.

    That’s a ten percent drop in four years, all the while firearm sales are skyrocketing. It doesn’t take a Ph.D. to know the reliability of these results should be questioned, if not discarded entirely.

    And last but not least: surveys are NOT the only way to determine gun ownership rates.

    http://crimeresearch.org/2013/11/problems-with-using-the-general-social-survey-to-measure-gun-ownership/

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  16. pyrrhus says:

    Living in a fantasy world results in insane articles like this. How did this rubbish get published?

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  17. Your little boy will (hopefully) grow up and live his own life. He will barely remember that his mother had a gun fetish.

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  18. @Jus' Sayin'...
    Back in the 1950s and 1960s, when I was growing up, violent crime in this country was at its lowest levels ever and in my neighborhood was non-existent. The USA had also, for the most part, avoided overt wars. President Eisenhower managed to end the killing in Korea, avoid a conflict over Suez, restrain the US from a military response to brutal, Soviet military repressions in East Germany and Hungary, and restrain US involvement in southeast Asia to a score or so of military advisors.

    Despite this relatively non-violent period in our nation's history and the complete lack of violence in my neighborhood, every single boy in my neighborhood - and some of the girls - regularly received toy guns and various related paraphernalia as gifts at Christmas. birthdays and other special occasions. Mattel for several years running annually improved and augmented a set of firearms toys that sold particularly well. Evidently toy guns were a big item on the national market. Something confirmed by the shared experiences of me and my college room mates.

    So toy guns were a universal childhood experience in a period characterized by very low levels of domestic and foreign violence. But now they are quite scarce on the ground when the country is riven by ever rising levels domestic violence and involved in a seemingly numberless and endless series of foreign adventures. Unless Ms. Berrigan can explain this apparent lack of correlation then her causal argument against toy weapons is dead in the water. Hint to Ms. Berrigan correlation is a necessary component of causation.

    Like all "progressive" Ms. Berrigan also exhibits dictatorially totalitarian tendencies that would do a fascist or Stalinist proud. The natural tendency of her children - of all children, in fact -- is to act out aggressive tendencies in play. Ms. Berrigan's natural tendency is evidently to suppress her children's natural tendencies so that they will grow up with levels of repressed rage similar to her own. Could it be that Ms. Berrigan's unconscious hope is that this can then be channeled into further "progressive" aggression? I suspect that Ms. Berrigan's children will need professional counseling to deal with the problems she is creating for them. She herself might consider seeking professional help.

    Finally, I'd point out that most of Ms. Berrigan's rage seems directed against boys. Anyone who's observed children realizes that boys are far more aggressive than girls. If denied toy weapons they will improvise them. The font of Western literature contains a recognition of this. Ms. Berrigan might wish to reread how Odyseus recruited Achilles for the Trojan War. Ms. Berrigan is striking deliberately at one of the roots of masculinity. She will probably emasculate her own sons; she may even already have achieved that goal. I don't want her to blight the lives of any other children.

    “She will probably emasculate her own sons; she may even already have achieved that goal.” she already dis. Her son sounds like he will be going to the kind of club that was shot up in Orlando.

    This lady is bonkers. Guns dont kill people, people kill people.

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  19. Kyle a says:

    Your “Catholic lovin” parents are to blame. Catholics charities and other looney ass religions have helped relocate a good portion of the crap cultures into this once great country. Do us all a favor Catholics and attend mass….. Mass suicide that is.

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    • Replies: @Anonymous
    Thanks for the stupid comment you evangelical piece of trash
    , @Alden
    You forgot to mention the Lutherans who have inundated Minnesota and even Seattle with Somalians the southern baptists who adopt Haitian babies Mormons who have filled Utah with Hispanic Indians and Somaon thugs and the endless Jewish legal assistance taxpayer funded law firms that endlessly file lawsuits to bring in more immigrants

    Look to your own bible thumping church in hillbilly holler before casting stones
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  20. Igor says:

    More guns to the people.
    build a militia.
    pursue your policies by a power of the gun, the government is doing the same.
    Do not trust people like FB, the author. They do nort know, what they say, or are paid prostitutes of the rouge regime in Washington

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  21. I had to check the header on the page again. This inaccurate agenda-driven swill read like leftist (used loosely) propaganda from HuffPo. I couldn’t read the whole thing. Maybe there was a punchline hidden toward the end somewhere?

    Controversial perspective? If you consider knee-jerk, brainwashed, “progressive” reality opposing opinions controversial, then yeah. Otherwise not so much.

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  22. Walker says:

    Pacifism is immoral. Any man who is unwilling to physically defend his family or rights is a coward, flowery language about his “morals” notwithstanding. All you teach a child when you teach him to be a pacifist is how to be a weakling who will look to others for his defense. You can only afford to be a pacifist when there are no individuals around willing to use force against you or when there are individuals around who will enforce your right to pacifism. Otherwise you lose every time. Either way, you are too weak both morally and physically to stick up for yourself and you deserve zero respect.
    The “great pacifist” Ghandi knew that much violence that the authorities wished to avoid would be unleashed if he was killed by the authorities. In this way he used violence to agitate for what he wanted. Just as Michael Luther King Jr. did.

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  23. The public has never been given access to the photographs of this bar after the alleged firefight. Where are the photos of ambulances and emergency crews to care for nearly 100 people? The FBI stated no one was shot until after 5 in the morning. We have seen photos and CCTV video of the Istanbul Airport attack which occurred just after the Pulse nightclub event, but none from Orlando. Why not?

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  24. @Luxeternae
    Ummm... I'm putting my money on the Caliphate. Measure this women for the hajib!

    It’s not often I laugh out loud. Excellent.
    Then, the depressing after thought: was this the attitude of some of the women who were raped in Cologne at New Year by ” Refugees. “

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    • Replies: @Luxeternae
    Future history -- " In 2032 the invasion of the Saracen Claw was halted before the Appalachians by Seamus " The Hammer " Berrigan. The captives were put to his nerf sword."
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  25. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer
    @Kyle a
    Your "Catholic lovin" parents are to blame. Catholics charities and other looney ass religions have helped relocate a good portion of the crap cultures into this once great country. Do us all a favor Catholics and attend mass..... Mass suicide that is.

    Thanks for the stupid comment you evangelical piece of trash

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  26. @Reg Cæsar
    Toy guns looked quite real when I was a kid in the '60s. But you never heard of a cop shooting a child in self-defense.

    We had fathers in those days. That's the big difference.

    Cops also weren’t cowardly thugs. It is well past time to start disarming cops. Citizens should be armed, not government employees.

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  27. @Verymuchalive
    It's not often I laugh out loud. Excellent.
    Then, the depressing after thought: was this the attitude of some of the women who were raped in Cologne at New Year by " Refugees. "

    Future history — ” In 2032 the invasion of the Saracen Claw was halted before the Appalachians by Seamus ” The Hammer ” Berrigan. The captives were put to his nerf sword.”

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  28. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer

    “Our house was robbed at gunpoint more than once …”

    If someone had been hurt or killed at the point of one of those guns, would this essay have ever been written? Unknowable, but I suspect not.

    Readers should perhaps be appreciative that never once did the author proclaim that no “civilian” should have the right to own a gun and that the state should have a monoply on gun-wielding.

    That said, I disagree with Ms. Berrigan on many–but not all–points. Respectfully and agreeably, I might add.

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  29. Alden says:

    So this obviously White woman with White parents was raised in a dangerous black neighborhood in Baltimore?

    Yeah, right. Just another fairytale pack of lies. We’ve heard it all before.

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  30. Alden says:

    Is this the daughter and grand daughter of one of those anti war Berrigan brothers? Must be. There is an abolish the second amendment movement probably funded by Soros and the ADL

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  31. Alden says:
    @Kyle a
    Your "Catholic lovin" parents are to blame. Catholics charities and other looney ass religions have helped relocate a good portion of the crap cultures into this once great country. Do us all a favor Catholics and attend mass..... Mass suicide that is.

    You forgot to mention the Lutherans who have inundated Minnesota and even Seattle with Somalians the southern baptists who adopt Haitian babies Mormons who have filled Utah with Hispanic Indians and Somaon thugs and the endless Jewish legal assistance taxpayer funded law firms that endlessly file lawsuits to bring in more immigrants

    Look to your own bible thumping church in hillbilly holler before casting stones

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  32. I really don’t blame the author for writing such mindless drivel. I expect mindless holier than thou emotional garbage like this from a woman.

    Her husband, on the other hand, must be a certified sandal-clad sissy boy. He is the type of “man” that would probably apologize to a “person of color” who raped his wife and daughter for the white privilege that caused the perpetrator to act out in such a violent manner.

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  33. J1234 says:

    Hey Frida, why no mention – not even one (in your forty plus paragraphs) – about the industry that will have the most impact (according to studies) on kids with regards to violence? Yes, I’m talking about the entertainment industry.

    The amount of violence on television is on the rise (20). The average child sees 12,000 violent acts on television annually, including many depictions of murder and rape. More than 1000 studies confirm that exposure to heavy doses of television violence increases aggressive behaviour,

    This statement was taken from this PMC site:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2792691/

    I’ll tell you why you didn’t mention it: because the left is in bed with the entertainment industry, and vice versa. Just like some elements of the right were in bed with the tobacco industry back in the 1970′s.

    The entertainment industry is the fourth largest industry on the planet, and dwarfs the firearms industry by a factor of 25 to 1. THAT’S why hypocrite leftists and pacifists like you rarely mention the violence portrayed in media – because the media and entertainers are on your side, generally, and have far too much power for you to criticize in any meaningful way. Ever since Bob Dole made an issue of movie and music violence during his presidential campaign, every politician of either political persuasion has come to the conclusion that you don’t criticize the entertainment industry with regards to the violent message it portrays. (Tipper Gore learned this the hard way, as well.)

    And that’s why the firearms industry is singled out as the “perpetrator” of violence in the US. And now the toy industry, apparently. They’re small potatoes and easier targets. The fact that advertisers spend billions on media advertising proves that people are influenced by what they see on tv, and on the screen, but when it comes to violence, the left and media producers swear up and down that isn’t the case.

    I scanned several pages of your past news columns to see if you had any meaningful criticism of the media, but I found nothing of any substance. I found an article about why your son should wear a dress, and I found and article you wrote justifying the violence perpetrated during the Baltimore riots, but nothing about the entertainment industry.

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  34. Excellent article. Top-notch troll.

    When I read “the United States has a violence problem and a man problem and a gun problem” I threw my head back and roared.

    Thanks for the laugh.

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    • Replies: @Delinquent Snail
    When she says man problem, i assumed she was talking about men like her husband and her son. Spineless men. Emasculated men. Thats the man problem here in america.
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  35. @King George III
    Excellent article. Top-notch troll.

    When I read "the United States has a violence problem and a man problem and a gun problem" I threw my head back and roared.

    Thanks for the laugh.

    When she says man problem, i assumed she was talking about men like her husband and her son. Spineless men. Emasculated men. Thats the man problem here in america.

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  36. @ frida Berrigan:

    You seem to think that guns are the major problem here in america. Not the fact that over 60% of the population is doped up on big pharma drugs/cocaine/crack/meth/alcohol/weed. Thats the major problem in this country. Untill we get a handle on our society’s addiction to chemicals, guns are just a footnote.

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  37. Sayless says:
    @Jacques Sheete
    Thank you, UR, for putting the number of words in an article right there for all to see.

    Note to authors.: None of you is the center of the universe and most of your braying is superfluous. If you want folks to read what you think is important, pare it down to the essentials. I even found speed skimming this one to be tiresome.

    Yes, is she writing a novel or an article?

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  38. Sayless says:

    “a violence problem and a man problem and a gun problem”. Madaleine, Condoleeza, Hilary. Female sociopaths are just as murderous as the other kind.

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  39. Faust says:

    When my father passed, I went through his wallet and found he still carried a picture of me. I am about 7 and wearing a Hopalong Cassidy hat and a two gun holster. I have spoken to others with similar pictures. At 12, I progressed from a BB gun to a .22. Much the way Atticus Finch describes acquiring his first gun in To Kill a Mockingbird. Many of my friends , of the same age, also had a .22. On slow Saturday afternoons, we would “shoot cans”. Ammunition was obtained at the local hardware store, albeit, with a note from my mother.

    To the best of my knowledge, none of us has ever killed anyone as a civilian. Nor, even thought about it.

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  40. Blindman says:

    Pretty good parody of clueless yet domineering SJW white lady and castrated my male husband living in a perfect yuppie bubble.

    A little broad though, not really believable.

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