I don’t presume to know what compels a young person to open fire on unsuspecting and defenseless people. Lack of support for aggressive behavioral issues, widespread availability of firearms, and images of violence in the media are all common influences cited after tragedies like the mass shootings at Columbine, Virginia Tech, and now Newtown, Connecticut. I believe all three of those issues play a role. However, there is a relatively new phenomenon that makes my skin crawl: toy versions of these deadly semi-automatic weapons.
Being a mother of a young boy, when I see photos of the Bushmaster AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, my mind jumps right to this:
It’s true I don’t understand gun culture, but I do understand the Constitution of these United States. I can comprehend the Second Amendment and the legacy of gun ownership that is entrenched in our society. These toy guns have nothing to do with the Second Amendment though. They are nothing more than tiny toy terror. They should be wiped from store shelves and e-commerce sites immediately. Admittedly, I am not a fan of toy guns in any shape or size but who or what condones these brightly colored replicas of killing machines?
These products are nothing short of appalling in the hands of children and teenagers. One only need read the descriptions on the box to be convinced of that:
- Rapid launching action increases your battle speed and accuracy!
- The first fully automatic Nerf Clip System blaster to date
- When it comes time to unload on a target, pull the Acceleration Trigger to spin the motor up to launching speed, then blast a semi-auto swarm of darts as fast as you can pull the Launch Trigger.
- Aspiring vigilantes aged eight years and up will be totally equipped to fight bad guys with the Nerf N-Strike Stampede ECS.
The manufacturer suggests children eight years old and up can enjoy these weapons. Despite the fact that the men in the ads look old enough to vote or perhaps legally drink alcohol, the age range for this product begins with a third grader. I don’t know many third graders who are “aspiring vigilantes” but I wouldn’t be sad if they dropped that one from their list of potential career choices. Not that the “and up” is much better. I certainly wouldn’t buy this for a teenager as they go through, quite possibly, the most confusing and unstable years of life.