Before what she had asked even registered in my mind, my brilliant and bossy 13-year-old daughter told her in no uncertain terms (as if to even ask had been a major breech of protocol), "Absolutely not!"
Miffed by my older daughter's usurping of my august parental authority, and now waking up to this unexpected question, I asked the little one why she wanted a gun. She explained in a matter-of-fact way that there were good guys and bad guys and she wanted a gun to protect herself from the bad guys.
"What would you do with a gun?!" her older sister shot back at her.
"Shoot the bad guys," she replied.
I explained to her that she was too young to have a real gun and that our neighborhood was very safe ? a whole lot safer than television, that's for sure. But I also told her that I agreed with her thinking and that, yes, guns can be very, very helpful to good guys in stopping bad guys. (And I double-checked what she was watching, for good measure.)
I decided, then and there, that I wanted her to have a toy gun. And, thanks to the wonders of multiculturalism, I was actually able to find one, no doubt manufactured in China.
My 5-year-old makes a heckuva lot more sense than those who fear, without a shred of evidence, that playing with toy guns will somehow turn kids to crime. She makes more sense than the school in Indiana, where officials altered their school's mascot ? a Minuteman ? to remove the musket he carried. They feared the armed minuteman symbolized gun violence. I guess they hadn't yet gotten to American history.
My young daughter knows the musket as a symbol of freedom, and if a symbol of violence, of justified violence. She knows that guns are not good or bad, but people can be either. (Apparently, reading her my Common Sense e-letter at bedtime is paying off.)
Her toy gun is just a toy. But it is a grand symbol of freedom, self-defense and a healthy disdain for political correctness.
And sometimes she lets me play with it.