“Playing with Toy Guns Desensitizes Children to Using Real Guns…” Uh, Sez Who?

Readers hktdfrerzr
— A school in Hayward, Ca is offering a “toy gun buyback” to its students, modeled on the buybacks of real guns at real police stations. While I don’t have a big opinion about the idea — on the one hand, sometimes people mistake toy guns for real ones, which is tragic; on the other hand, laws based on one-in-a-million odds are usually over-reaching  — I am appalled by the reasoning of the principal:

“Playing with toys guns, saying ‘I’m going to shoot you,’ desensitizes them, so as they get older, it’s easier for them to use a real gun.” 

Talk about absolute blather. Is there any proof of this whatsoever? How about the fact that millions upon millions of kids have played with toy guns  for generations without growing up desensisitized to what a REAL GUN is? By the principal’s logic, my husband should be a heartless murderer — he played with toy revolvers as a kid, as did his brother. And yet they both seem very aware of the difference between a toy gun and a Colt 45 (unless that’s the beer. Either way, they also know the difference between BEER and guns. And they don’t even mix them!)

The principal’s statement irks me because he’s making up a reason to be yet more terrified about our kids: How endangered they are now, how dangerous they’ll become.  Can’t win. Everything is just danger on a stick.

Best comment so far: “Does a Pop Tart shaped like a gun count?” Considering how afraid we are of everything having to do with kids (even them MENTIONING the word “gun”), I should hope so.

And before we get into a gun control debate — which I hope, hope, hope we don’t — please remember the point of this post: The thought train of the principal:  If a child plays with a gun he will grow up cavalier about (or worse, enamored of) real firepower. THAT’S what interests me. Not the ol’ gun debate. - L


Will playing with this turn kids into thugs?

102 Responses to “Playing with Toy Guns Desensitizes Children to Using Real Guns…” Uh, Sez Who?

  1. Emily June 10, 2013 at 2:11 pm #

    First of all, that doesn’t even look like a gun. It looks like a fluorescent plastic toy, albeit a slightly phallic-looking one, but that’s a whole other kettle of fish. Still, I have yet to meet any adult who played with a Super Soaker as a child, who grew up to be a terrorist OR a sex offender because of it. If we start banning Super Soakers and Nerf guns because they promote violence, and Barbies and Bratz dolls because they promote an unrealistic body image and focus on superficial beauty, and tricycles/bicycles/Big Wheels/Green Machines without ridiculous “safety” features because they’re “dangerous,” and challenging playground equipment for the same reason, then pretty soon, kids are going to have nothing left to play with, and they’ll have to resort to playing with sticks, rocks, and cardboard boxes instead…..except, they’re not allowed outside anymore because of “safety” concerns, so they’ll end up staring at screens and eating potato chips all day, and become obese. So, no, I don’t think Super Soakers should be banned. Even if some adults don’t like it, a water fight (outside, with all participants willing and armed) is still a good way for kids to engage in active play.

  2. Joel Dockery June 10, 2013 at 2:18 pm #

    I desensitize my kids to use real guns by letting them shoot real guns. Both my children are aware that many items can be used as weapons and should not be used to intimidate or hurt innocent people. Unfortunately children grow up in a world where unjustified deadly force is perpetrated by government and portrayed as heroic.

  3. Silver Fang June 10, 2013 at 2:21 pm #

    No and what’s bad is because he’s an authority figure, this principal’s words will be treated as gospel by the ignorant masses.

    I have my own theory, which is denying children the ability to play guns actually leads them to be more fascinated by the real thing as they get older, having never gotten it out of their system when they were little.

    It’s just a theory, but look at the increase in school shootings over the past 15 years! It directly coincides with the movement to ban toy guns and gun game.

    I know correlation =/= causation, but it’s still interesting to think about.

  4. Observer June 10, 2013 at 2:26 pm #

    In my 2-year old son’s room, we have one of those foam play mats with all of the letters and the digits 0-9 on it. There have been many times that he’s popped the letter “L” and the number “1” out of the mat and toddled around the house making gun sounds. We have no idea where he learned to do that.

    Yes, I own guns, and I am more often armed than not (courtesy of a crazy ex-wife who made threats), but the most he sees of them is my sidearm sitting in my holster (mostly hidden by my pants and belt) or the occassions where he’s come outside while I was cleaning them. We don’t really watch many movies or TV shows that show a lot of gun use, and I rarely get the chance to play any games on our consoles, let alone the FPS ones.

    I can only conclude that it’s a very natural reaction for a boy his age. Our son is very much a stereotypical boy, and he mostly stumbles on such behaviors by himself. (Much like when we got a broomstick horse at a garage sale. He spent the next few days riding it around the house, even though he’s never seen someone riding a real horse, to my knowledge.)

  5. Jenna K. June 10, 2013 at 2:27 pm #

    As the only girl with five brothers, I played with cap guns, rubber band guns (my uncle made some pretty cool ones for us when I was ten years old), squirt guns, and even BB guns when I was a kid. As a teenager, I went target shooting with my friends all the time. I haven’t shot a gun since college, but I certainly haven’t been desensitized. I still am careful about what I watch on TV and can’t stomach anything to do with blood very well.

    I like Silver Fang’s theory about a fascination with guns because of not having played with them.

  6. Mike June 10, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

    I was sensitized to guns by watching my dad shoot guns and shooting guns myself. I knew what they could do. I knew the implications….that they were loud and blew stuff up. I knew they weren’t toys and they could kill animals and people.

    We now prohibit anything to do about guns that would *teach* about them. Our kids can’t even point their hand (pop tart?) like a gun, much less have any exposure to gun safety as part of a regular school curriculum.

    Instead, we’ll ship millions of copies of Call of Duty, etc. so that kids under 10 can learn that shooting people with guns is entertainment.

    By all means, buy up all the toy guns. Kick out kids that even mention something about a gun. Respond with rapt hysteria at anything to do with them. Let’s gleefully demonize responsible gun ownership so that our citizens can learn all about killing people from games and movies.

  7. Vanessa June 10, 2013 at 2:54 pm #

    I’m not a gun supporter at all, but even I think this is silly. My dad grew up playing cowboys and Indians with cap guns, owned an entire arsenal of real guns as a teenager and young adult (he and his friends used to take them out to the California desert and shoot at bottles), and went on to qualify as a marksman in the military. Yet somehow, he’s managed to get to be almost 70 years old without ever holding up a liquor store or carrying out a mass shooting or whatever they think these toy guns are going to cause kids to do.

  8. Papilio June 10, 2013 at 3:17 pm #

    I too like Silver Fang’s theory, I think it holds true for many other subjects as well.
    There is this whole US society constantly emphasizing/idolizing (not sure what word to use here) all the goodies in life (alcohol, sex, but also guns – think of violence in films and how the US rates those films as suitable for younger viewers than EU countries do); but minors get a whole different message, a negative, overreacting, hysterical message (‘Nooooo! Don’t do this until you’re 21 or married or both!’), making it only more of a forbidden fruit.
    How are children supposed to learn to handle those goodies responsibly when they get such mixed messages?

  9. Joanne June 10, 2013 at 3:17 pm #

    The more mysterious we make something, the more the kiddos want it.

    I’m not a gun fan, but I do believe in people living their own lives and making their own choices. What bothers me about this program is how in a time where schools are really struggling for funding, someone had to pay for this idea. That money could have been used for some other school purpose. Or if the books and bikes were donated, they could have been used for some other reward or incentive program.

  10. Lara June 10, 2013 at 3:28 pm #


    My kid got three super soakers (one for each family member) for her 8th birthday. Guess we’re headed for trouble.

  11. ankle June 10, 2013 at 3:31 pm #

    My kids play with real guns, as soon as they’re big enough to hold one and to take an interest. Each has had the opportunity to see what one does to an inanimate object, and each has violated a safety rule and thereby earned themselves an age appropriate but very serious lecture at least once. My kids are never better behaved than when we’re at the range. They’re also home-schooled and kept out of California as much as possible, for reasons that are probably obvious.

  12. marie June 10, 2013 at 3:38 pm #

    Schools should require gun safety courses for every student.

  13. Warren June 10, 2013 at 3:40 pm #

    First off, at least the majority of the comments are in opposition, including a cop upset that the local Fire and Police Chiefs are on board.

    So if we follow this principals train of thought, then kids that see shootings, fires, bombings and the like on the news will be desensitized to it, and become arsonists, murderers and terrorists?

    Also, how dare he organize an event like this based on nothing more than his personal beliefs? Cause for dismissal?

  14. Tomas June 10, 2013 at 3:49 pm #

    It’s magical associative thinking. We are terrified of violence, with some cause – violence is legitimately a bad thing. So let’s ban everything associated in any way with violence. It’s sticking your head in the sand. We choose not to be reminded of it, just like of other aspects of life not talked about in polite company – like divorce, cancer, or poverty. Guess what – as usual, the problem is not going to be wished away.

    Not that the problem of violence is particularly bad to begin with. I continue to shock disbelieving people with the claim that crime of all sorts is at a historic low, which is of course borne out by statistics. But the media has given it saliency, and the salient wins over the germane every time.

    Some people will always try to simply get the problem out of sight, so that it doesn’t chafe quite so much.

  15. lollipoplover June 10, 2013 at 3:50 pm #

    Kids have played with fake weapons since the beginning of time. Young boys may blow off testosterone with a good cowboys vs. indians battle or nerf war. They get this aggression out of their system and move on.
    I find it perplexing that some parents won’t allow active toy play but have no problems with Black Ops and Call of Duty- which have far bloodier and realistic violence than a “pow pow” or a water stream. I fear the pasty, anti-social kid who plays violent video games in all his free time more than the happy kid with a super soaker playing outside. Buy back the bloody games if you think violent toys affect behavior.

    Are they going to buy back imagination next?

  16. Arianne June 10, 2013 at 4:15 pm #

    I do think Silver Fang’s theory is worth considering. I’ve kind of thought something similar about how freaked out people get about fist fights. I only got in a couple of minor scuffles as a kid (back before they used to overreact about things like that and the most you’d get was a scolding) but I think this is a normal and maybe even important part of growing up. I hope I don’t sound like a psycho here or anything, but I think being punched in the face has a way of giving you a sense of humility and empathy, as well as an understanding of the limitations of using violence to get your way, before you can do any real harm (*really* hope I don’t sound like a weirdo). I think that when schools, etc. overreact to small, normal physical altercations between kids, they are not helping the situation or the kids’ development.

  17. Warren June 10, 2013 at 4:31 pm #

    @Silver Fang and Arianne

    Your theory is along the lines of something I have been saying for years.
    That soceity is trying to suppress our natural instincts. That humans either forget, or completely deny that we are still part of the animal kingdom.
    As with any other species of animal out there, we can be aggressive, territorial, paternal, and violent.

    For example, two 16 yr olds getting into a fight over a girl? Why is that any different than two bull moose, or two alpha male wolves fighting over a mate?

    Yes we are civilized, but are we over civilized?

  18. Steve S June 10, 2013 at 4:40 pm #

    To some degree, I think these people are projecting their own discomfort with guns on their children and assuming that any kind of “gunplay” will encourage them to be violent and dangerous. There is research that tends to show that children can distinguish real violence from play violence, so there is no reason to believe that playing with toy guns will encourage some kind of dangerous behaviors.

    In addition, there is a ton of research that suggests that there is no causal link between video games and violent behavior in most children. I do believe that there have been a few studies that suggest a link between video game violence and some violent behavior in youth that have shown severe enough behavior problems that they are involved in the court system.

    I agree with the previous comment that gun safety should be taught in schools. That seems much more worthwhile than wasting time and money demonizing a lawful product.

  19. S June 10, 2013 at 4:59 pm #

    “Schools should require gun safety courses for every student.”

    When I lived in Texas ten or so years ago, they had “gun safety week” at the schools (elementary through high school) where I substitute taught every year. They had gun safety lectures for the students in school and also sent material home to the parents about gun safety and proper storage. I assume they still do in that area. When I lived in Virginia, the local high school had a rifle team and still does. I’ve since moved again, and where I live now, the YMCA teaches riflery to kids starting at age 6. I think kids in this environment are far less likely to be desensitized to the power of guns than kids whose primary or only encounter with guns is through movies and television and video games. Obviously if you play a car video game, you are less sensitive to the danger of cars then if you are actually taught to drive a real car. So the principal is right that playing with toy guns may desensitize them to the danger of guns, but I very much doubt he’d want to do the thing that WOULD sensitize them, which is to have real firearms instruction. Violent movies and video games have proliferated even while the culture that expected kids and teenagers to learn how to shoot real guns has declined, and we wonder why kids are desensitized to guns.

  20. lollipoplover June 10, 2013 at 5:07 pm #

    “Fingerprinting and photographing of children will be offered, with the information put on CDs for parents to use, if needed, in a missing child case.”

    The event sounds like Fear-a-palooza.

  21. Havva June 10, 2013 at 5:18 pm #

    This is beyond what I recall as a child, but I do recall lots of hand ringing over kids playing with toy guns when I was a kid. And zero tolerance even for toys. We still all loved our super soakers. But I have to wonder the impact it all had on minds. I wonder the extend to which this fear over our toys produced an impulsive fear, and inability to exercise judgement about the real object.

    When I entered college there was a group of students who chose to make themselves particularly irritating to me. One day I walked in to our shared workspace as they were tossing my desk. They didn’t see me enter. One young man shakily, and with increasing urgency, pulled out a newspaper article and started saying. “Guys… uh… guys…guys” The group quickly froze looking at the article about a spy novel. The accompanying picture from the book was of me and an older gentleman each holding hand guns.

    Finally another boy broke the silence and said… “Those have to be fake guns right. They’re not real!?” I answered quietly “They’re real.” The group dissolved into nervous chatter until one boy eying me skeptically, ventured. “But you’ve never fired them right?” The group calmed and silenced looking at me. I took the article back, looked at the photo and answered, “Not that particular Smith & Wesson revolver, no. This is the long barrel model we borrowed. But the Beretta model 92. Yes.”

    The group scattered, and my desk was never tossed again. It was exhilarating. And ridiculous. And disturbing.

    I never gave of any hint of being threatening. I was so non-threatening they had been screwing with me for months. Then suddenly one photograph. A few calm answers to their own questions. And for a time, I was given an even wider berth than I ever asked for. To give sudden respect like that, to someone who was never respected before. I wonder what it would do to a less stable individual. Especially when combined (as it was in my case), with people who were interested in me being told to stay away that I was crazy dangerous. So fear of a weapon on one side, that passes for respect. Combined with hidden pernicious efforts to socially isolate the individual. All coming from how we talk to young people about guns.

    I dare say this fear of toy guns sensitizes young people/society. To react dangerously to people who (perhaps through no effort of their own), happen to know a little bit about guns.

  22. Orange Roughy June 10, 2013 at 5:24 pm #

    and water balloons fun leads to throwing grenades

  23. Sarah June 10, 2013 at 5:36 pm #

    My kids are 5 and 3, they play gun games ALL the time, with sticks, toy guns, their hands, 2 pegs stuck together, you name it they can use it as a gun.
    But if you talk to them and ask about real guns, they will tell you real guns aren’t nice, real guns can hurt or kill you, if they see a friend play with a real gun they have to run and tell an adult. At 5 and 3 they still know the difference between real and pretend.

  24. Steve S June 10, 2013 at 6:08 pm #

    I have also noticed that there is some toy gun-phobia among people that I would consider pro-gun. They insist that their kids never point toy guns at other people and treat them like they are real guns. This struck me as boring and not necessary. They claim they don’t want their kids to learn bad habits in regards to gun handling.

    Strangely enough, this fear didn’t translate to other areas of play. They didn’t insist that toy cars obey traffic laws or that baby dolls be treated just like real babies.

  25. anonymous this time June 10, 2013 at 6:10 pm #

    Love that, Orange Roughy!!

    Personally, I would advocate for an “airsoft gun” buyback program, but those are not toys. I know a whole lot of people think they are, but I don’t. They’re not like BB guns, which everyone KNOWS not to shoot at each other (at least I would damn well HOPE they know not to shoot BB guns at each other)… the game is actually to shoot plastic pellets at your friends, and unless it’s highly structured and supervised, you could end up with some pretty messy injuries… all this from a lady who is pretty adamant that kids ought to play the way they want to.

    Legions of 9 – 14 year-old boys are ending up with airsoft guns because they’re thought of as “toy guns.” Hm. Give me a super-soaker fight any day! Ralphie won’t shoot his eye out with that!

    I do remember the more sadistic kids in our neighbourhood putting lemon juice or dish soap water in their squirt guns and aiming for the eyes… talk about poor sports. Some kids need “disarming” more than others, in my experience. But banning gun play?

    Get. Over. Yourself.

  26. rhodykat June 10, 2013 at 6:22 pm #

    We grew up playing war, as did every baby boomer who was the product of World War II…unless, of course, they were playing cowboys and indians instead. We played a lot of Star Wars, too, but instead of “bang” you made that funny “pew pew pew” noise of the laser. We also had BB guns and bows and arrows which, somehow, we never shot at each other – imaging that! (Ok, there may have been a few shots to the feet on a triple dog dare playing “how many pumps can you take” – but I digress…). Nothing here but adults with lots of respect for guns. Our kids have a BB gun to practice on, and can shoot the real ones at the range. Nothing gives you respect for a gun more than real experience with one…and, anyway, desensitizing is a modern word which has come of age to explain why you have no control as in “I couldn’t TEACH them anything about it, because they were already de-sensitized to it.”

  27. hineata June 10, 2013 at 6:59 pm #

    Time for an end to ‘formal’ education? At least as long as the inmates are running the asylum….

    Where are the studies that show that this is any more than a power-tripping fantasy the principal is having?

  28. Tellie June 10, 2013 at 7:02 pm #

    Kids are going to encounter violence, shootings, even murder in their real life via the news or, god forbid, personal experience. If you shield them from it when they are young they will end up learning about it once they are adults. Personally, I’d rather Noah learn what violence is and how it hurts others when he’s young enough to still listen to me when we talk to him about these issues and we’re around to explain and discuss it all with him.

    I think a lot if these strictures are just ways to avoid having important discussions with your kids, either because it is an uncomfortable subject or because you assume they are too young to understand. Instead of bleeping out swear words and hiding toy guns try talking to kids about what these things are, when they can or cannot be used (if ever) and what the effects of each are.

  29. Andy Harris June 10, 2013 at 7:15 pm #

    When I was a brat (I mean “child”), I had a genuine Roy Rogers gun, holster and hat. I didn’t get the Gabby Hayes tooth removal system, but age will take care of that.

    I blasted everyone with the gun — parents, old ladies, police officers — and nobody took the golden opportunity to shoot back. I was one mean hombre.

    I was not desensitized or enamored of guns, and I doubt cap pistols will do that.
    Our administrators and lawmakers should grow a set and get onto real problems.

  30. Andy Harris June 10, 2013 at 7:18 pm #

    hineata, you bring up a good point. Every time some yahoo comes up with statements like that, reporters should be required to say “Please show us the studies that support that allegation.” Watch how fast these stupid statements diminish.

  31. Jim June 10, 2013 at 7:37 pm #

    I fully agree with the desensitization argument and the buyback itself. Kids should grow up in a world free of violence and guns. This is not an issue of choice either. I just think they should wait until they are 18 to be drafted by the government for military “service” for their proper desensitization to guns and violence.

  32. bmj2k June 10, 2013 at 8:22 pm #

    So by that logic, every kid who was “the robber” in cops and robbers should be prime suspects in every bank robbery.

  33. Stephanie @ Where in the World Am I? June 10, 2013 at 8:29 pm #

    What does that say to the children whose parents are police officers or in the military or the children who want to be police officers or join the military when they grow up?

  34. Emily June 10, 2013 at 8:49 pm #

    >>Schools should require gun safety courses for every student.<<

    I think schools should offer gun safety courses for those interested, but it shouldn't be mandatory. When I was in school, we had to have our parents' permission to take sex education, and I don't remember any parents opting out, but I guess if that happened, the students without permission would have read or finished other work on their own while everyone else was in sex ed. Also, when do you think gun safety courses should start? I know there have been some kids who've started using guns at or before kindergarten age, but this is usually the exception, and not the rule, especially for people living in the city.

  35. Momof2 June 10, 2013 at 8:50 pm #

    I just wrote a note yesterday on this subject looking for a place to say it. This is what I wrote:

    They’ve been telling us for years and now want us to believe that kids playing cops and robbers/cowboys and indians leads to mass killings and shooters. History has shown that not to be the truth anymore. In reality, it’s pharma doping and mental illness – probably from chemicals in our food. Wow! They’re GOOOOOD. But we’re on to them!

    Kids playing with toy guns are NOT going to be the ones shooting up the malls. Unless, of course, Daddy’s sitting there telling him to “kill the cops or the cracker.” THAT might have an influence.

  36. LegalMist June 10, 2013 at 9:06 pm #

    Ooh! The Super Soaker!! Those are sooo much fun!!

    My family and I have played with them for years. Am I destined to become a mass murderer? The stupidity just burns…

    On the other hand, I’d welcome the opportunity to sell my leaky and beat up old SuperSoaker 1000 to the school and then use the money to go buy a brand new SuperSoaker 5000!!

  37. Puzzled June 10, 2013 at 9:34 pm #

    I do wish we would stop using schools as battlegrounds on every political issue. It’s bizarre – we aren’t comfortable with teachers discussing politics with kids, and we freak out if a teacher reveals their beliefs – but we think it’s fine to turn school policy into a playground for our politics.

    Anyway, count me as one of the pro-gun crowd who is uncomfortable with airsoft. Airsoft guns strike me as a total fetishization of guns – it’s one thing to have toys that look like guns, in some general sense – but it’s something else to carry on about all the tactical features, in a gun made for pointing at other kids and shooting.

  38. Krista June 10, 2013 at 9:49 pm #

    And letting children play with dolls leads to more shaken babies.

    No, wait…

  39. Colt's Mom June 10, 2013 at 11:01 pm #

    We are avid hunters for meat, not trophys. We used to go to the range to target shoot until we bought a home in the country. We have our CCWs. At the age of 2 our son held his first unloaded real gun. He was taught not to point it at a person or a pet. As time passed he was taught gun safety…only your Nerf guns are toys…our loaded guns will kill you. He was taught to shoot properly….weapon is hot or safety is on. He is now 9. Loves to target shoot and wants to go into competition. He hunts for food on the table during season, but loves to watch our wildlife on our property…..our freezer isn’t that full…lol. He knows what to do if a friend brings out a gun. His favorite gun is our AR-15….it has no kick and he is great with his aim. Amazing how an “assault rifle” doesn’t have a legal definition….just a scary name for a rifle that shoots one bullet at a time and looks…oooo….scary. I was raised to be afraid of guns….it took 20 years before someone showed me I was the one in control….the gun, an inanimate object, was not going to fire on it’s own. I was also taught that an unarmed gun in your home for protection is only as good as your aim at throwing it. I am over my fears. I am a great shot thanks to friends who knew what they were doing….and my son knows the difference between our real guns and his toys.

  40. Donald June 10, 2013 at 11:23 pm #

    Why stop at toy guns? Why not buy back computer games? Some children play 5 hours each day seven days a week. That equates to 1,825 hours per year that children are playing games.

    Lets do a brief review of some the most popular games.

    1. Manhunt
    Players advance by stalking and killing victims, all for the delight of a “director” who urges you to make the killings bloodier, more cunning, and ever more horrific. Manhunt 2 is more of the same, but now you’ve been injected with a drug to bring out your “homicidal tendencies.”

    2. Resident Evil 5
    Using guns, swords, or a chainsaw, you shoot, hack, and slash oncoming enemies, producing copious amounts of blood. And the game’s racial undertones are hard to ignore, as the white hero (accompanied by a light-skinned African American) has to kill mostly black victims infected by the zombie-causing virus.

    3. Dead Rising
    Based on the 1978 Dawn of the Dead zombie splatter flick, this game combines gory imagery — like shotgun blasts, chainsaw dismemberment, and hand-to-hand combat — with images of nude women on various objects.

    4. Resident Evil 4
    Players must stab, shoot, and bomb their way through hundreds of realistic-looking humans and monsters. Cursing and sexual dialogue round out the mix.

    5. Grand Theft Auto
    (specifically Grand Theft Auto IV and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas) Players can kill other humans, including police officers, or drive into pedestrians on sidewalks and in parks. Gang warfare, beatings, drive-by shootings, and bloody deaths are all shown in gory detail.

    6. God of War II
    Players can do everything from ripping the eye out of a Cyclops to twisting the head off of Medusa to slicing off enemies’ arms with chains strapped to their wrists. There’s also a sex mini-game.

    7. Mortal Kombat:
    Deception The goal of this game is the same as other Mortal Kombats: Kill or be killed, and make it as horrific as you can.

    8. MadWorld
    With the Wii remote and Nunchuk in your hands, you simulate the motions used to split someone open with a chainsaw, punch opponents with your fists, or pick up and use assorted objects scattered throughout the levels to dismember, bludgeon, and impale your foes.

    9. Gears of War
    You can use a chainsaw to rip apart enemies or machine guns to spray them down. Characters and world are photorealistic, making bloody battles seem even gorier.

    10. Saints Row 2
    The protagonist never shows hesitation or remorse, often deliberately choosing the most violent means possible of carrying out missions — declaring such methods “more fun” at least once — and taking pleasure in homicide.

    Lets be realistic. We cant afford to buy back computer games, Xbox, and Wii stations. However I’m sure that buying back toy guns will really make a difference. After that, lets cure the common cold by banning Kleenex tissues

  41. J.T. Wenting June 10, 2013 at 11:50 pm #

    “First of all, that doesn’t even look like a gun. It looks like a fluorescent plastic toy, albeit a slightly phallic-looking one, but that’s a whole other kettle of fish”

    It’s got a barrel, a pistol stock, a trigger, and a high capacity magazine.
    OH GODS, it’s an ASSAULT GUN!

    And yes, that’s how the anti-gun crowd reacts.
    And that’s why they’re quite likely banned in Europe (not 100% sure, but were I a toy importer I’d not risk bringing them across the border here) where any toy that “looks enough like a real gun” is banned, including fluorescent plastic water pistols like this that “could be painted to look enough like a real gun to be used to threaten people”.

  42. SKL June 11, 2013 at 12:17 am #

    How would one prove this, considering that up until recently, *every* child engaged in pretend gunplay without restriction.

  43. DaveS June 11, 2013 at 1:06 am #

    @Silver Fang
    “It’s just a theory, but look at the increase in school shootings over the past 15 years”

    The appearance of an increase is actually just a bias from increased national media reporting of such incidents.

    As a reader of this site, I’m sure you are well aware that it is safer today to let your kid walk to school than it was in 1990. Whats not always mentioned is that its also safer today for them to actually be at school than it was in 1990.

    Violence in schools(including shootings) has decreased over the last 20 years. Just like about every other category of violent criminal activity.

  44. Jenny Islander June 11, 2013 at 1:27 am #

    Desensitization to firearms is exactly what we need. We need firearms to occupy the same mental category as, say, chainsaws or scalpels: tools, dangerous when misused, but very useful in the right hands. If people only see firearms in action movies, FPS games, and news clips, they’ll continue to think of them as either Infectious Agents of Evil or Magic Talismans of Ultimate Power.

    They’re just guns!

  45. SKL June 11, 2013 at 2:04 am #

    The other day my kids’ friend had a birthday party. I called the mom to ask what her daughter would like for a gift. She said daughter had been hoping for a toy gun. 🙂 So at least one parent out there (of a girl, no less) has retained a bit of sense about this stuff!

  46. Caleb June 11, 2013 at 6:25 am #

    We limit the number of store-bought toys at our Childcare, partly because so many toys are actually advertising of a Disney movie, (or some other thing that basically exploits children,) and also because toys tend to limit imagination. We try to stick with old-fashioned blocks, Lincoln logs, and tinker toys that can be most anything they chose. We have no toy guns.

    The most popular toy has always been a stick, any stick, of the thousands found in the woods. A stick can be any number of things, including dolls. However one thing it over and over becomes is a toy gun.

    Shall we ban sticks? Or perhaps ban the woods?

  47. John June 11, 2013 at 6:37 am #

    I remember on Christmas Day 1966 I got a “Defender Dan” for Christmas. A “Defender Dan” was a toy machine gun that shot plastic bullets. I was 10-years-old and I remember shooting my uncle with a round of fire when he walked in the door for Christmas dinner! Of course the toy bullets were harmless and uncle Leo survived and had a great meal with us. Further more, today at age 57 I’m not exactly a mass murderer and have no police record to speak of. School administrations nowadays are really stupid! Well, at least some are.

  48. Eran Arbel June 11, 2013 at 6:55 am #

    My father is a high ranking military and police officer. He’s in charge of our Kibbutz’s gun bunker and rarely walks around without his Glock 19. I was taught to shoot at a young age. Small arms, hunting rifles and air rifles. Turns out in not a bad shot. 🙂
    When I turned eighteen, I joined the army, like every Israeli should. By the time I left, I knew how to operate a Galil assault rifle, an M-16 (several versions), an M-15, an M-4, MAG machine gun (known also as the M-249 SAW), a Browning 50 caliber heavy machine gun, a 40 millimeter mortar, the 105mm Merkava MkII main gun and several other implements of war.
    I am desensitized to guns. Meaning, when I see a gun I don’t freak out and just make sure it’s safe (secure and with the safety in) and not pointed at anyone. And I don’t jump at the sound of gunfire, real or televised.
    I am enamoured but guns. Meaning, I very much appreciate the design of a firearm (like the design of a car or an appliance), and I like to see them at work, doing things that are engaging and used by very talented people (like watching a sports event or the circus) which is why I watch Top Shot and FPSRussia.
    I also play video games. They give you a sense of power and accomplishment it’s hard to find in real life. Some of them do this with a gun, some with a bow or magical staff, some with a smartphone, a wrench or just ararchitecture.
    I have never thought of shooting someone to death in any case other than last resort self defense and I actually turned in my weapon, that my father gave me and trained me to use, when my license expired. Because I figured that they are pretty much useless for self defense. I now practice martial arts and am always ready for conflict. I’ve started studying about twenty years ago. I’ve been practicing this form for more than seven years. I’ve never been in a place where I needed to use my skill in actual combat.
    Some food for thought.

  49. Rachel June 11, 2013 at 9:27 am #

    Our two boys–12 and 15, have had a fascination with toy guns and violent video games. When they were little, they used their legos to make guns. I’m not sure whether the video games are a good idea–I cringe when I see them playing, but decided to let them, because I can see that my kids have great values and their violent play does not carry over to the real world at all.

    When my kids see the news or movies showing real wars and real violence, they get upset. I don’t see signs that the violent games have desensitized my kids.

    Boys have always had a fascination with guns, swords, and other types of violence–I don’t understand why, but it’s been that way forever. My dad used to play cowboys and Indians.

  50. Captain America June 11, 2013 at 11:06 am #

    I’m an old toy gun user. . . heck, I used to use those old red paper caps in cap guns and cap launchers. Fun stuff to play with.

    Now I have to confess: I’m slightly anti-gun. At about age 13, the whole gun thing was just a turn-off. Never got into it at summer camp like a few of the boys did. I guess I grew up realizing how irrational a lot of gun use is; I’m a bit freaked that there are so many guns out there, in the hands of the blinking irresponsible.

    I’m not an anti-gun legislation guy. I’m in Illinois, and not pleased about the courts forcing the states to do this concealed carry nonsense.

    When it comes about, I plan to drive safer to keep the gun-toting drivers happy.

  51. Sarah June 11, 2013 at 11:44 am #

    I cannot think of any other time in history were children were restricted from playing outside- but allowed to play inside with extrememly violent vidoe games. I am a a young mom and even when I was growing up in the 90’s we did not have access to that kind of stuff until at least junior high. I welcome my son to run around outside with his friends, having watergun fights, playing “war”. It’s what boys have done forever and he is using his imagination and body. Unfortunatly some of the other neighborhood parents think that playing outside with clearly fake guns is to “dangerous”, so they let their kids play Modern Warfare for 4 hours on a beatiful Saturday afternoon instead. We are talking about 9 year olds.

  52. Izaak June 11, 2013 at 11:47 am #

    I grew up with guns. My father was in WW2 and the Korean War and brought back dozens of battlefield guns that were dropped or left damaged by US and foreign troops (used to be legal to do).

    He kept a loaded shotgun in my closet. One of those old Stevens single-shot 12 ga. I only know because he told me.

    When I was about 8, he took me to a field outside town (Shelby Co, TN) and put some cans on a fence. He put some earplugs in my ears, and showed me how to fire the shotgun.

    I put it to my shoulder, and he stood behind me holding my shoulders. When I finall fired, the impact and sound of the shotgun scared me so badly, I peed on myself. I mean a full on lost-control-of-everything. I started crying. My shoulder hurt and I was covered in piss.

    I never wanted to touch a gun after that. I ended up going another 12 years before having any interest.

    When I was about 30 my dad told me that was his point and it worked perfectly. He wanted me to know what a gun really did and not learn about it from the TV. He said he was always furious when he saw them using guns in TV and movies. The biggest thing that bothered him was two guys having a conversation while in a gunfight with someone — just talking to each other, with no hearing protection as if gunfire makes no noise.

    Exposing a child to firearms use will not make them more likely to want guns later. In my case, it was just the opposite.

  53. lollipoplover June 11, 2013 at 12:27 pm #

    “I cannot think of any other time in history were children were restricted from playing outside- but allowed to play inside with extrememly violent video games.”

    My oldest has a friend in 6th grade who is not allowed to ride his bike or scooter over our house alone (we live 3 blocks away) but plays every Teen/Mature rated video game ever created and plays them as much as he likes. He’s kind of a bad kid (gets in trouble at school, mouths off, doesn’t listen) so I try not to encourage the friendship. The father once followed the boys over (my son went to meet him) while they were on bikes….and I thought he was a creeper. Even the pond where my son spends hours fishings the parents insist on being there…to watch them fish. If only they paid attention to all of the screen time this kid spends become a demented sociopath.

  54. Sarah June 11, 2013 at 2:02 pm #

    So sad. I live in a great beach comunity and I would love for my son to have a few friends that he can skateboard down to the peir with and spend a few hours fishing. I have mentioned that to a few neighborhood mom’s and they look at me as if I am insane. Video games=good, safe. skate board and fishing= bad, dangerous.

  55. anonymous this time June 11, 2013 at 2:35 pm #

    The hyper-realistic violent video games just have me shaking my head, honestly. Kind of like the über-graphic rap music. Okay, okay, free expression, all that. But for kids? Really? You want your kid “enjoying” that stuff while all their neurocircuitry is getting wired up?

    Not sure why it couldn’t wait a bit. When we were kids, there just wasn’t anything like that out there. The most “depraved” music was heavy metal, and that was more about self-loathing than anything else. The video games were ridiculously innocuous, but we loved them and played them for hours.

    I see parents, my ex included, who seem to imagine that providing this stuff for their boy children is a great way to “provide” for them… here, son, let me help you download that “E” rated album off of iTunes… here, son, let’s go get that “M” rated video game you’ve been wanting…

    It’s just sad to me. Nerf guns? Heck, I think they’re swell. Age-appropriate. No need to confiscate that stuff. But the violence-drenched “rehearsals” for manhood embodied in some of the media stuff just… agh. What to do?

  56. Warren June 11, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

    Okay, blaming video games is just as ridiculous as blaming toy guns.

    People are just naturally different, from they way they were raised, to genetics. Anyone influenced by a game, music, or whatever is mentally ill, and just needed a trigger.

    There are people that under no circumstance could or would take another life. There are those that can kill with no remorse or guilt. Then there are those in the middle that can take a life, in the line of duty, self defense or other justified reason. We should find out which ones were influenced by toy guns or video games.

    I wonder if all thoughs years ago, the moms and dads in the highlands of Scotland talked about taking the wood swords off of their kids. Because it was wrong to pretend you were the hero warrior of the clan.

  57. Kay June 11, 2013 at 3:49 pm #

    Do these people even remember back when they were a kid? Do they really think that kids today are completely brainless and they can’t recognize the magnitude of a real gun vs. a toy?

    I had a play cap rifle when I was a kid and loved it. I never did own a real gun but when I was a kid I sure as heck wouldn’t have been cavalier about encountering a real gun because I had a play one.

  58. Sarah June 11, 2013 at 5:55 pm #

    Warren, I don’t think we are blamming vidoe games for violence. There has always been violence. I am pointing out that I have neighborhhod folk who are scarred to let their kids play outside with nerf exc. but letting their 10 and under kids play vidoe games intended for teens and adults all day is fine with them. Apperently I am not the only one with that type of neighborhood folk.

  59. Katie June 11, 2013 at 6:34 pm #

    Ha ha, I think I had the said water gun in the picture growing up. It was fun…and I’m not obsessed with guns at all as an adult.

  60. Puzzled June 11, 2013 at 7:49 pm #

    We talk about blaming toy guns, blaming video games…for what? There are serious problems with kids, but there is not an epidemic of kid violence. The problem is that too many kids are too obedient and too unquestioning – and I doubt video games or guns can be blamed for that.

  61. Kay June 11, 2013 at 8:09 pm #

    Did anyone catch this article? He only got a detention.


    OMG, I can’t even read the whole thing. I can’t believe those pictures of those poor students taking part in the “carnage”.


  62. Carolyn June 11, 2013 at 8:54 pm #

    Great article on this topic.

  63. lollipoplover June 12, 2013 at 11:10 am #

    I don’t think the blame is on any toy. It never should be. Like the Burgermeister Meisterburger in “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” who tried to ban toys because he tripped on a toy duck and hurt himself. Kids will always find something to play with and make into a weapon. Take away one thing, they will find something else, that you can guarantee.
    My comments about video games (and add to that R rated movies) were that some parents won’t allow their kids to play outside without supervision but have no problem letting the 10 yo play games that are MARKED with age ratings (that they choose to ignore). I have a problem with said-mouthy kid who says inappropriate things (lines from watching “The Hangover” over and over) but the parents won’t let him fish with my son “alone” or go anywhere without them. It’s the “He can have or do anything he wants as long as he’s safe and sound inside the house” mentality that absolutely baffles my sensibilities as a parent.

  64. Z-girl June 12, 2013 at 12:55 pm #


    Violent video games DO have negative effects on children. There are multiple sources of scientific studies backing that conclusion, but here is just one:


    @lollopoplover and @anonymous_this_time

    Your gut feelings are right! Apparently it is because violent images trigger fear and stress responses, which then change brain chemistry. And genetic studies show that stress can PERMANENTLY change how you react to stress in the future by upregulating expression of “stress” genes. This results in hyperactive stress responses and leads to more violence due to an increase in perceived threat. For example, children who are abused as infants, but then adopted by loving families, NEVER return to having a normal low-level stress response. (From the book “My Beautiful Genome” by Lone Frank). I would guess that a similar thing happens to kids who are exposed to violent video games. But regardless of how it happens, violent video games do affect children negatively.

    Obviously, playing with toy guns does not result in violent images!! I have no problem with my kids playing with toy (or even real, with supervision) guns, but I do not let them watch violent movies or play violent video games.

  65. Christine Hancock June 12, 2013 at 2:32 pm #

    I won’t give my five year old toy guns (except transparent and obvious water pistols). My thinking is that I don’t want him forming bad habits or thinking guns are toys. Ha! It seems as if boys come preprogrammed with weapons play. I deprive my son of toy guns, so he picks up sticks and runs around the neighborhood pointing them at people and shouting “Pew! Pew! I shot you!”. So far no one has called the cops, although a few of the grandfatherly types smile and laugh. It’s a good thing I live in a somewhat rural and politically neighborhood. Probably a good thing too, that I homeschool.

    My son would be a real menace in a larger city. He pretends sticks are guns, throws rocks (in the field where I tell him it’s ok), speaks frequently about burning things and blowing stuff up, and plays rough whenever he can. He’s a country boy and thankfully we live in the right place.

  66. Z-girl June 12, 2013 at 2:55 pm #

    @Warren, regarding video games

    After reading some more articles and research, there IS agreement that playing violent video games leads to an increase in aggression (although the time-frame for how long that effect lasts hasn’t been pinned down), and that it affects verbal “scripts” for how to interact (for younger kids). But apparently there is still disagreement about whether violent video games lead to violent acts. However, violent video games are almost always one of the many factors involved when teens commit violent acts, so their effect can’t be discounted. I personally think it comes down to the ages at which kids play the violent video games, as well as what type of home life they have as an “antidote” to the violence they see on the games. Also, my personal decision is to not let my kids play those games, not because I think they’ll make my kids violent, but because I think it’s wrong to “enjoy” seeing such grossly realistic violence (even if it’s make believe).

    I know this isn’t really related to the gun thing…. except it IS in a way. Because it makes me realise why I don’t mind the toy guns: they aren’t realistic, and they don’t show any visual of graphic violence.

  67. Steve S June 12, 2013 at 3:58 pm #

    Regarding video games, the research is not conclusive. See the following book:


    These researchers conductive extensive research and concluded that watching the news and movies may have a stronger impact than video games.

    I think it is very dangerous to pick out one factor (video games) in looking at some violent incident and ignore what could be a more important causal link. The reality is that video games are more popular than ever and violent crime is at it’s lowest level in decades.

  68. Z-girl June 12, 2013 at 5:15 pm #

    @Steve S

    Thanks for that link!

  69. Captain America June 12, 2013 at 5:57 pm #

    One factor for both the anti-gun and pro-gun sides to both realize is that it is possible to be a zealot for your side.

    I fully appreciate how neat, NEAT, a nicely made, nicely machine thing can be. Guns do have this intrinsic appeal, the same as other nicely made complex mechanical devices.

    I also appreciate how very important it is for we Americans to stand up for our rights, should we find an Administration bent on bending the Constitution. Our rights are invaluable and should be inviolable, no matter how attractive or persuasive a Current Occupant can be.

    I doubt that playing at guns causes children to be violent. Let’s take away balls, if this is the case.

    AT the same time, we see the facts of excessive gunnery in the United States. While it is people who kill people, it’s far easier to do this quickly and impulsively with a gun than with a rock.

  70. Kevin June 12, 2013 at 8:21 pm #

    If you take away toy guns,kids will use pretend sticks. If you take away the sticks,they will use their fingers.
    Next there will be a law outlawing a child’s imagination.
    Framers never considered they would need an amendment to protect a kid’s imagination from the government.

  71. Caleb June 12, 2013 at 11:19 pm #

    RE: rhodykat, on June 10th, 2013 at 6:22 pm Said:

    “…desensitizing is a modern word which has come of age to explain why you have no control as in “I couldn’t TEACH them anything about it, because they were already de-sensitized to it.”

    Yowza! What an excellent point! Not only does it make me look at others, but it makes me look at myself.

  72. oncefallendotcom June 12, 2013 at 11:54 pm #

    Toy guns don’t pretend-kill children, children pretend-kill children.

  73. Warren June 13, 2013 at 1:17 pm #

    Okay, let’s take away the toy guns. The kids can play old time mafia, with baseball bats, ice picks, and molotov cocktails. The mob used these things and still do because they are not illegal to carry.

    Neighborhoods full of kids running around with toy bats, toy ice picks, and toy bottles of booze. Pretending to collect protection money from each other.

  74. lollipoplover June 13, 2013 at 3:37 pm #

    I’d like to add this to the toy gun argument but just because it is hilarious!!


  75. Yan Seiner June 13, 2013 at 9:01 pm #

    This plays into something that is at the core of my own parenting…. If your kids express interest in something TEACH THEM HOW TO DO IT RIGHT. Don’t prohibit it.

    My daughter, when she was about 11, tried to shave her legs, with disastrous results. My dad (her grandfather) pitched a fit and prohibited her from doing that – with the result that she just did it in secret. (Long story but they were staying abroad with my grandparents for half a school year to learn the culture and the language.)

    Same with guns. If your kids express interest in real guns, get them into a gun safely class. Have them attend an Appleseed weekend. Something. But teach them how to do it right.

    As to the original article, that is just asinine. Boys are aggressive by nature and especially in puberty, prone to anger. Their brain does not catch up to their physical abilities until they’re what, 25?

    So teach them how to harness that aggression, channel that anger into something constructive. Working with habitat for humanity. Cleaning abandoned properties. Hard, physical labor that is nasty and difficult and challenging and ultimately rewarding.

    I can just see it now:

    Do you like to play with guns? Do you think it’s fun to run around old abandoned properties playing shoot-em ups? Come with me.

  76. Natalie June 13, 2013 at 10:39 pm #

    Of course video games and the type of play you engage in influences you. As does everything else people come into contact with throughout their lives to varying degrees.

    That doesn’t mean that some kid is going to pick up a gun and shoot down half his school. But there’s a pretty long scale from “no influence” to “gunning down students” in which games of this kind do influence people.

    We’re all influenced by our surroundings, the people we interact with, the books we read, the shows and news we watch, that’s just being human.

    I don’t agree that playing Duke Nukem encourages kids to go on a shooting spree, but it’s a bit naive to say that kids aren’t influenced by it.

  77. WarrenThe June 14, 2013 at 12:03 am #

    Hate to tell you but works of fiction and video games are not part of reality. Mentally stable healthy individuals are not influenced by them, other than maybe adopting a catch phrase.

    If you or your child is influenced by a work of fiction, or a game, to the point that you are making it part of your reality, then you need help. There are emotional or mental issues that need addressing.

  78. Yan Seiner June 14, 2013 at 8:18 am #

    @Warren: Sorry, but I have to disagree with you. Science teachers and professors are having to struggle with students who’s perceptions of what is “science” has been warped by the various scifi flicks put out by Hollywood. The extreme reality of CGI graphics convinces people that what they’re seeing is actually a reflection of physics. It’s not.

    IANAL but I also hear that juries are influenced by th very warped “criminal process” on shows like Bones, CSI, and so on.

    Lastly, if you look at the political process, there are lies told over and over and over, and people will believe it if it’s told often enough. I bet if you took a poll today you’d still find a lot of Americans who believe that Obama was not born in Hawaii.

    If you present it over and over, it will become reality.

  79. Warren June 14, 2013 at 10:25 am #

    That just confirms what I was saying.

    Those that are emotionally and mentally healthy and stable are not influenced. They are able to completely seperate fact from fiction.

    Those that are influenced are weak minded and weak willed, with issues that need to addressed.

    Yes some believe Obama wasn’t born in Hawaii, and Elvis is working in a WalMart in Topeka, and we never walked on the moon, and so on.

    My kids grew up on action, horror and sci fi. During and after the movies there were always the comments “Wouldn’t it be cool if we could do …………” which shows they know it is not real.
    Those kids that believe in the physics of Star Trek, Star Wars, and the ones that followed, are not mentally healthy. If they were, they would remember tha sci fi is short for science fiction…..

    And no matter how many times something is repeated, if it is not real it cannot become real. You can only convince the weak of it’s reality. Key word WEAK, which is starting to become the majority of the population.

  80. Donna June 14, 2013 at 11:46 am #

    It is not that simple, Warren.

    Yes, if you believe that the Star Trek is real then you probably have a mental issue. That is so divergent from the world we live in so to be obviously completely fiction.

    But many things we talk about here ARE absolutely real. They DO happen. The issue that is being warped by the press is HOW OFTEN it occurs, not whether child abduction is a real thing.

    Take Yan’s CSI example. There is a HUGE CSI effect on juries. The issue again isn’t that things like fingerprints and DNA are science fiction and only a crazy person would believe that they exist. The issue is how often they exist in the real world. The reality is that these things are very rarely gathered from real crime scenes and rarely make appearances in real trials. However, juries tend to believe (a situation we defense attorneys milk whenever possible) that these things should be at every trial. Why? Because the average person’s only experience with the criminal justice system is through TV shows like CSI. Few are actually ever involved in a criminal investigation or sit through a criminal trial. So while more outlandish things presented are dismissed as fiction, they have no reason not to believe that DNA is recoverable from every crime scene (it actually is) and wonder why my client’s DNA was not found at this crime scene if he was there (the answer is that it was not looked for because DNA collection and processing is hugely time-consuming and expensive and not done in every simple burglary).

  81. Warren June 14, 2013 at 2:08 pm #

    And that is my point Donna. Those people that think that way because they see it on TV, are mentally and emotionally weak. If one takes a TV show to represent actual procedure, they need help.

    If what you claim is true about the jury mentality, then the mental health and intellect of the public in general is much worse than I ever thought.

    You cannot honestly say that mentally and emotionally strong and healthy people believe what they see in fiction. If they believe fiction to be real, by definition they are whackjobs.

    Thus I again say there is a need for trained professional jurors. And unless the possibility of a major sentence is present, trial by judge should be the norm.

  82. Yan Seiner June 14, 2013 at 3:25 pm #

    @Warren: Then by definition *everyone* is a whackjob. There was an experiment in basic physic done some time ago with undergraduate and graduate physics students and graduates of those programs to test the knowledge v. perception. These were students from MIT, Princeton, etc. IIRC correctly some 60% or more showed significant bias towards the unreality shown in movies, in spite of knowing intellectually that it was impossible. I was part of that experiment. I flunked.

    If you’re calling the top 1% of our college students and graduates “mentally and emotionally weak”, then I’d love to hear your opinion of the rest of the populace. 🙂

  83. anonymous this time June 14, 2013 at 4:35 pm #

    We learn by watching.

    Children learn by watching.

    If they watch TV, they learn from TV.

    Careful what they watch, is all I can say.

  84. Warren June 14, 2013 at 10:12 pm #

    Well Yan, there are explanations for the results. One being those graduate students were already predisposed to abstract thinking.

    And then yes for the most part I do find the public full of weak minded, weak willed people. Society has bred generations of weaklings. Too many people these days cannot think for themselves. Will not make a decision. Will not take a stand.
    For every leader there are a thousand followers.
    Used to be the strong and smart survived, now we let em all survive.

    Just out of curiousity, what makes them the top 1%? I highly doubt it. That 1% may be all intellects, but how many of them are actually well rounded, and life smart as well.

  85. Yan Seiner June 14, 2013 at 10:56 pm #

    A bit of “no true Scottsman”, methinks. 🙂

  86. Donna June 15, 2013 at 12:38 am #

    Warren, we get it. Everyone who is not Warren is weak-minded and mentally unstable in Warren’s world. It is getting old to read.

  87. Natalie June 15, 2013 at 7:59 am #

    I actually wasn’t thinking of the fiction vs. reality and what you believe, although that is true too. I was thinking of how it subconsciously (and sometimes consciously) influences your behavior. Not to the extent of shooting up your classmates, but different uses of language, influencing your mood and how you interact with people, both for better or for worse. We’re all a product of our surroundings and it doesn’t have to do with being weak. It’s not like we’re all thrown into the Ministry of Love and the ones who come out stating that they love Big Brother are weak and the ones who are still opposed are strong, we all consume media and we all interact with people and we’re all influenced by it.

    About fiction vs. reality, if you don’t know someone that works in a crime lab, or read a realistic depiction of it, or take the time to find out what things are real and what things aren’t, how would you know?

    I have a problem with how science and research is presented. (also, the misconception that all scientists and engineers are nerdy, pale men with pocket protectors and glasses – something I try to counter when I do K-12 outreach and how to make these professions more accessible to others)

    But it’s not from being weak willed or emotionally unstable. How many people are actually privy to how R&D is done unless they or a friend/relative works in it? If you don’t take that time to acquire knowledge of various professions, how would you know?

    And even though you may tell yourself that what you’re seeing or reading is Hollywoodized, you still don’t know what the real day to day life is because you simply do not have that knowledge – that would make a boring medical procedural, or lawyer procedural, or sitcom, or cop show, etc. So you have to go out of your way to get that knowledge.

    Btw – on the subject of how R&D is presented in the media, some funny stuff from PhD comics. 🙂

    If TV Science was like Real Science (with a shout-out to CSI)


    If Movie Science was like Real Science


    And one more – how the media translates science:


    @Yan – was that the physics in movies test? I think I took that a while ago. My grade wasn’t stellar either. 😉

  88. Warren June 15, 2013 at 9:05 am #

    It has nothing to do with Warren’s world. Though the sounds of that is not unappealing, lol.

    It is all about the human condition. There are those who are strong, and there are those who are not. It is quite that simple.

    Take Lenore for example. You would be hard pressed to find a stronger person, than Lenore. Her patience, convictions, and hope give her incredible strength, and flows from her to those who need it.

    Strength comes in many forms and I am sure if given the chance to know you, I would probably see quite alot of strength from you.
    Unfortunately, the public in general, is weak. They will follow blindly, accept blindly, and believe blindly. They are like this for many reasons.

    One of the problems is that we have become over civilized, as a society, here in the west. We are no longer permitted in polite society to handle issues ourselves, that at one time we used to. Now we have agencies, police, courts, ugh lawyers for everything. And it goes against our nature and instincts. We are the only animals that continually attempt to deny who and what we are.

  89. Jenny Islander June 15, 2013 at 12:48 pm #

    Warren, do you really want to live in a land without any police or courts?


    Do you read history? Ever?

  90. Donna June 15, 2013 at 2:00 pm #

    Warren, it is not about accepting blindly.

    The fact is that, unless you become an expert on every single thing on the planet and every profession imaginable, some of our views of the world are formed by the media we experience. Should we believe that Klingons exist because we see them on TV? No, that is clearly fiction. Should we be expected to understand the intricacies of real police department budgets to fully understand that the real feasibility of using the 100% real scientific testing seen on CSI in every case to avoid being considered weak-minded? No.

    I happen to work in a profession that has been the subject of TV and movies since the dawn of TV and movies. The portrayals of the criminal justice system are clearly dramatized but not so obviously fictional to the general public as to make them mentally ill if they believe that that is a close approximation of what really happens. Hell, I bought into some of them before I started working in the profession.

    Because the issue isn’t a single Star Trek telling us about Klingons. It is that the same thing is portrayed the same way across many genres. Many people here probably believe that a police officer “reads you your rights” as he is slapping on handcuffs. Why? Because that scene has been in almost every TV show or movie involving an arrest since the reading of rights came to exist in 1966. And they’ve never been arrested or seen a real arrest to know that this pervasive scene is drama and not reality.

    Same with kidnapping fears. It isn’t just Law & Order telling them that kids are in danger. It is every cop show. It is hundreds of movies. It is every talk show. It is the news. It is their friends and family. It is school officials. It is the endless experts that make money off of things being scary. It is hearing about every kidnapping from all countries for years on end (I still occasionally hear about Madeline McCann and I should know nothing about a British child kidnapped in Spain!). At some point, it makes an impression. And at some point even strong-minded people start believing it because if it wasn’t true, it would be everywhere, all the time.

  91. Warren June 15, 2013 at 9:06 pm #

    I am not saying returning to the stone age. I am saying, that we have over civilized our society and culture.

    When our kids are being told that physically confronting their bully is wrong. That it makes them no better than the bully. We have gone too far.

    When two people mutually decide to settle something with a fight, and they get charged with a crime. We have gone too far.

    When teachers, principals, administrators, lawyers, cops and CPS insist on telling you what is best for you and your family. We have gone too far.

    You do not have to be an expert in the law to know that what you see on TV is fiction. If one actually believes that any of it is true, then yes they are weak minded/willed.
    As for kidnappings, to be affected by one that happened years ago, or countries away, then yes you are weak. It is that simple.
    One can choose to live in reality, or in their own version of reality.
    In all honesty, anyone that fears that their child is going to be a victim of kidnapping except those that have received threats, needs to seek help. The fear of kidnapping is no different than the fear of the dark, spiders, heights or whatever. It is irrational. An irrational fear is an irrational fear no matter what. Just because it has to do with kids does not make it any different.

  92. Natalie June 15, 2013 at 10:23 pm #

    We’ve had a psychologist explain exactly why we humans are wired to fear violence/kidnappings etc from news sensationalism. It was a pretty decent explanation, I think it should be easy to find in the archives.

  93. oncefallendotcom June 16, 2013 at 3:03 am #

    After reading Warren’s mafia play suggestion, my first thought was “Warriors, come out and play-ay.”

  94. Donna June 16, 2013 at 11:40 am #

    @Warren –

    The point that you seem to refuse to accept is that much of what you see on TV IS true in some ways. Is there really a Gil Grissom in a CSI unit in Nevada investigating crimes? Of course not. Anyone who believes that does have a mental health issue.

    Is every single thing he does on the show a legitimate police investigation tool conducted fairly accurately? Absolutely. Minor things are changed for dramatic effect (results aren’t really available in seconds, lab tech don’t really leave the lab to investigate crimes) but the tests and techniques really exist. There isn’t anything I’ve seen on CSI that hasn’t made an appearance in some real cases that I’ve handled. In fact, police could use the exact techniques that you see on CSI in every case if they chose to do so. They simply don’t. So how exactly is it weak-minded to believe that finger printing, DNA, ballistics, etc. are real? How exactly is it weak-minded to believe that those things are available to your local police department? How exactly is it weak-minded to expect that they may be used in a case that you are somehow involved in? Why does the fact that you learned of these things on CSI, as opposed to reading scientific journals, make you weak-minded for believing in them?

    It is easy, albeit meaningless, to insist that people who disagree with you are weak-minded. Explain HOW this is an indication of weak-mindedness in your opinion.

  95. CrazyCatLady June 16, 2013 at 11:49 am #

    Coming in late after being on vacation….but….in my family, with toy guns the rules that apply to real guns also apply to toys. That is, you never point a gun at a person. Ever.

    Guns in my house are a tool – sometimes for recreation, often for putting food on the table, sometimes for protection of our flock, or sadly, sometimes a quick way to put down an animal so that it doesn’t have to suffer. But like other tools, if misused, they can be deadly.

    Sure, our parenting method means that my kids have pretty much only used sticks to “shoot” at each other, and we don’t have nerf guns (though they have played with them at friend/s houses.) But they certainly “get” that guns, the real ones, can be deadly. Do I advocate this for all families? Just the parts about real gun safety. Other than that, do what you want.

  96. Warren June 16, 2013 at 10:19 pm #


    Talk about apples and oranges. If you cannot see the difference between believing in scientifically accurate methods, and believing in the dramatized enhanced version of those same methods, then there is no sense in going any further.

    Being able to say that the show has some solid foundations in pathology, or chemistry or physics or whatever, but also going on to recognize where they have embelished is a sign of a strong mind. Accepting everything they put forward is weak. It is that simple.

    If you cannot think for yourself, and rely on fiction and media to educate you, then you are in big trouble.

  97. Natalie June 17, 2013 at 11:51 am #

    It’s interesting, but by your own logic you have defined yourself as weak. Not something I’d agree with as I don’t know you and I don’t agree with your definitions of strong and weak. But the rules and definitions you’ve set apply to you.

  98. Warren June 17, 2013 at 2:21 pm #

    Just how does my logic make me weak?

    Maybe it is the line of work I am in. There is no grey areas. It is all black or white. No such thing as accepting less than 100% effectiveness. There is no room for mistakes, or lapses in judgement.

  99. Natalie June 17, 2013 at 9:18 pm #

    No, what does your line of work have to do with anything?

    Do you think I look down on you for being a tire mechanic? The trade school vs. university degree thing? Or maybe you’re afraid that other people do? Sometimes you get this defensive tone in your posts when talking about your job.

    As you say, it’s honest work, you’re contributing to society, providing a service that people need, paying taxes, what’s to look down on?

    Or is it still the sexism thing? I point out sexism when I see it because that’s the way to get rid of it. You don’t have to take it as an insult. You weren’t the only one accused of making sexist comments by several posters here, but you were the only one who responded when people called it out. You like to argue. Good. So do I if I feel it’s worth my time and I can learn something and/or teach something.

    So why do I say you’ve trapped yourself in your own logic?

    Let’s look at how you’re defining weak.

    Someone who’s influenced by media or other sources and is unable to differentiate between what is reality and what isn’t and/or is unable to comprehend what reality is even though it is displayed for them/explained to them because of preconceived notions derived from the media/other sources.

    In short, someone who doesn’t know what reality is, and holds onto preconceived notions.

    In my opinion, you have just classified yourself as weak, as per your definition. You have a construct of reality formed throughout your life that you are unable to alter despite being presented with evidence to the contrary. You insist that your preconceived notions are correct. Everyone else is wrong, regardless of their line of work even it’s related, their experiences, their reasoning. That’s fine, lots of people are like that.

    But by your definition, a strong person would be able to change their preconceived notions when presented with reality. A weak person would not because they don’t know how to differentiate between reality and preconceived notions.

    I don’t call this being weak, I call it being stubborn or obtuse. But argumentative people tend to be that way. (yours truly included)

    You’re going to disagree, and then I’ll respond by saying that it is a symptom of being “weak” (by your definition, not mine) that you disagree.

    So you’re in a no-win situation. I’m telling you that you’re unable to differentiate between reality and your preconceived notions. In some instances, I may be correct and in others, I may not be correct. But since I’m determining what that reality is, I also determine whether or not you are weak.

    But I’d have to know everything in order to do so.

    Confused? Me too.

  100. Rick June 17, 2013 at 10:06 pm #

    OK… I’ve been putting off replying to this post. For several reasons.

    First, I know the principal in question. Nine years ago, I was the program director for the child care center on his campus (along with six other local on-site after-school programs). So I know Mr. Hill. And I can say without reservation that he is one of the most intelligent, caring, and dedicated administrators I have come across in my 25 years in the education system.

    So, imagine how horrified I was to read that this happened at Strobridge Elementary. I still think Charles Hill is an outstanding principal… though I could not agree less with him on this particular issue.

    Second… recently- since about three weeks ago- at the center I run (in a community thirty miles east of Mr. Hill’s school), I’ve decided to allow kids to use imaginative play that involves guns. Not real guns, mind you… not even toy ones. Just sticks and legos and whatever else is handy. I think most of my staff thinks I’ve lost my mind. Even I’m uncomfortable with it at times. But I think back to my days as a child running wild through fields and canyons playing the same games, my fascination with cap guns… and I didn’t turn out to be a homicidal maniac. In fact, I’m pretty much a peacenik now, which goes a long way in explaining my uncomfortability with letting the kids pretend play with pretend guns. One of my favorite online mentors, Teacher Tom, says it best at his blog: http://teachertomsblog.blogspot.com/2009/08/playing-guns.html

    And, soon, perhaps, I’ll put the results on my blog… it’s still a work in progress.


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