When my brother and I were growing up, there was a rule in our household: No toy guns. Squirt guns were allowed, but all others - including those that came with GI Joe action figures - were not permitted. I liked that rule, so it is of no surprise that I adopted it for my own household.
My father, stepdad and father-in-law all grew up in a time where their heroes were cowboys. It is clearly an identifying mark of that generation, and I understand they have a deep affection for John Wayne, Howdy Doody and the Lone Ranger.
My husband and I grew up idolizing astronauts. We wanted to go to the moon and beyond, and cowboys just weren't as cool. (For details on the dichotomy between cowboys and astronauts, watch the first Toy Story movie.) And as my generation grew up, guns got a little scarier as they invaded our schools and shootings became part of the fabric of our lives.
So, outside of squirt guns, my husband and I don't allow toy guns in our household. And my son knows that: He is not allowed to buy any weapons with his allowance money and he doesn't ask for toy guns as presents. Yes, they still creep in with his LEGO sets, but for the most part, we are a gun-free house. And that works for us.
It's hard to talk about guns - both real and the toy version - with people who have different feelings than you do, but I believe that Dan Gross's TED talk on the subject is about as close to bridging the divide as there will ever be. Does it solve everything? No. But it does remind me that I respect the older generation's affection for playing cowboy and shooting toy guns when they were little, and I hope that they understand my hesitations, based on the world we have today.
Do you allow toy guns in your household? Tell me in the comments.