Saturday, December 20, 2008

Too young for a gun

My 9-year-old has been trying to get my husband and me for weeks to buy him an Airsoft gun. While I lean toward "absolutely not, are you crazy you'll shoot your eye out". My husband leans toward the "why not I had a BB gun when I was a kid". Of course I carefully remind him that he also did other crazy, reckless things when he was young that I do not want my child to do EVER. But I digress.

My husbands argument is that it's a right of passage for all boys. He had a BB gun when he was a kid and he survived. No one lost an eye and no one was seriously injured. My argument is that I don't think a 9 year old needs a gun that shoots pellets. I don't have issues with my son playing with a gun, he has plenty of Nerf guns and play guns that don't shoot anything (or anyone). It's just that when I read the packaging on the Airsoft gun and see a warning that it isn't to be used by a person under the age of 18, I am pretty confident that it was put there for a reason.

For those of you not familiar with the Airsoft guns, they use little plastic pellets rather than metal BBs. This makes them safer than a normal BB gun but they can still put out an eye. The guns come in spring, compressed air and electric versions, but they all basically work the same way, which is to use compressed air to launch the pellets at an impressive velocity.

Airsoft guns also look like lethal firearms because they are exact replicas. The only notable difference between airsoft and lethal weapons, other than the blaze orange tip, is that airsoft guns fire small plastic BB’s instead of metal bullets.

One of the top selling online stores has this to say about safety and the airsoft guns.

First and foremost, protective gear should be used at all times. This includes, most importantly, eye and face protection. While airsoft shooting goggles or glasses (with shatter resistant lenses) are a must, a full protective face mask is highly recommended. Full face masks protect against facial damage to cheeks, teeth, and ears, as well as providing complete protection for the eyes. Along with protective face wear, the use of a thick sweater or jacket, a balaclava (a cloth head mask), gloves, a hat, hard-soled boots, and knee and elbow pads are also recommended. As a final safety measure, the covering of all exposed skin is also highly advised.

Does a 9 year old need a gun that might require him to wear a full protective face mask and cover all exposed skin?

Some of you might think I am overreacting or being an overprotective mom but this seriously causes me some concern. Does there come a point where we give in and compromise our child's safety to let him have something that "all the other kids" have?

The only positive that I can find in letting him have a gun is that it provides an opportunity to teach gun safety, which will be an important lesson for later in life. The cons as mentioned above are the safety issues.

We are at a standoff now. I am being the bad guy and standing my ground. On the other hand, I feel that my husband with enough pressure from my son, would cave. Until we can come to some common ground on this issue, I will continue to say no to the gun. I love my kids and it is my duty as their mother to protect them from things I find harmful. I wouldn't send them out to play in a busy street and I certainly wouldn't buy something that would put them in any danger.


Kim Eckhardt said...

I am so totally with you. I could have wrote this post myself. Except that Ken doesn't want the kids to have bb guns either. Heck. Our boys don't even have pretend guns. LOL.