Do You Let Your Kids Play with Toy Guns?

Updated on June 08, 2012
T.W. asks from Winter Park, FL
54 answers

I'm just curious, because I have two boys ages 2 and 4, and I have so far completely avoided buying them any kind of toy gun. The only time they've ever played with them was at their grandparents house, my mom had an old squirt gun that they of course had a blast playing with. We have never even had a playdate at someone else's house where there's been toy guns. I just remember my brothers playing with them all the time...nerf guns, tracer guns, water guns, etc. I know they still sell them because I see them in toy stores. Just wondering if they're still part of the regular play or if parents have mostly gone away from them.

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Featured Answers

B.B.

answers from Dallas on

I have girls, but yes I do, and I play dead to.. once I was dead for so ling because they forgot to come rescue me, I fell asleep... Lol

20 moms found this helpful

C.P.

answers from Columbia on

My boys have played with toy guns since...well, always. Nerf guns and water guns, mostly. Toy guns do not lead to violence. They do lead to a lot of fun family water/nerf fights!

6 moms found this helpful

K.I.

answers from Los Angeles on

My boys (ages 8 & 6) have a whole huge 'weapons locker'...Ha!

It is really just husband's old Army Locker but it is filled to the brim w/every toy gun you can think of...Star Wars Blasters, Nerf Everything, etc, etc, etc.

4 moms found this helpful

More Answers

T.M.

answers from Redding on

Mine played with guns....
They are not serial killers.

11 moms found this helpful

R.D.

answers from Richmond on

NO! THEY'LL GROW UP THINKING IT'S OKAY TO SHOOT PEOPLE! NO NO NO!!....

... yeah right! I grew up with nerf guns, water guns (like super soakers), bb guns, dart guns, etc etc etc.... I HATE guns as an adult (no, that's not right, I RESPECT guns)...

No harm, no foul. Kind of like teaching your kids to cook, just because you let them around fire and knives doesn't mean they're going to go around burning and cutting people. It's about teaching RESPONSIBILITY.

10 moms found this helpful

T.K.

answers from Dallas on

I had a strict - we dont play with guns, even water guns - policy with my oldest girl. But that's when I was highstrung and thought I had it all figured out. Now, I'm old, laid back, and absolutely sure I have it all figured out! :)

I have a 6 yr old boy. He wants to be a soldier. I never buy him guns, but his daddy does. It wouldn't matter. He makes his finger into a gun. Maybe I've evolved and loosened up, or maybe I'm just tired!

10 moms found this helpful
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A.M.

answers from Phoenix on

ETA:
WOW! I can't believe I just read this.
"and the more lower income, less educated, less involved parents do allow them, and alot of other stuff."
Oh well. Guess I'm in the low class and uneducated "camp", and all the people from my church are too...my poor children have no hope. Apparently, neither do most of the children to all these mamapedia M.'s who also allow toy guns.

Original:
Yep, we've got em'!

Just the other night my husband, children and I had a blast (no pun intended) playing hide and seek around the house armed with NERF dart guns. I haven't had that much fun in a long time.

All of my children's friends have dart guns and water guns as well. It is a lot of fun!

9 moms found this helpful

⊱.H.

answers from Spokane on

Yes ~ my boys have lazer guns, water guns, nerf guns, fake shot-guns, plastic toy guns, pop guns, bb guns......

My 8 y/o just passed his Hunter's Safety course and got a 20 gauge shot-gun for his birthday that he is only allowed to use under adult supervision. He turkey hunts with his dad and deer hunts with me. He also has his own bow. My youngest will get his own too, when the time comes.

We teach gun safety in our home.

EDIT: WOW!!! I cannot believe my eyes! lower income less educated parents?!?! REALLY?!?!?!

6 moms found this helpful
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L.B.

answers from San Francisco on

Yes I always have. And just know that if you choose not to (which is really okay!) your boys will eventually turn every carrot stick, branch and their finger into a play gun. It's just what they do.

6 moms found this helpful

B.C.

answers from Norfolk on

No toy guns.
Our son learned to shoot when he turned 6 (Dad's an NRA certified instructor) at the range.
He doesn't need to play with toy guns because he can go to the range and target shoot with the real thing anytime Dad wants to take him.

6 moms found this helpful

F.M.

answers from San Antonio on

My son just turned 4. He has his toys organized in bins - playdoh, construction toys, outside toys, and GUN toys. Nerf guns, noisy guns, cap guns (without the caps), plastic guns, metal guns, cork guns... When potty training him, he was rewarded by being allowed to shoot the BB gun outside with Dad. I highly doubt my son grows up to be a serial killer. Quite the opposite - I firmly believe he will grow up with a solid respect for guns and their power. We have real guns in the home and he is taught about them and has seen what they do (yummy venison).

At my mom's house (Nana), he is allowed to pretend shoot at the trees, at the grass, at a darn grackle (annoying bird). He may not shoot at people or pets.

added: Don't have time to read all the answers. But to whomever said that the less educated low income parents are the ones who allow this - yikes! Go educate yourself. Is a college graduate with no credit cards and absolutely not one penny in debt (two cars paid off, no mortgage yes we own our 2000sq foot home on 7 acres) sound uneduated and low class? Well that's me and my husband. Highly educated and definitely not low class. It's the less-educated people who let their kids play with REAL guns as toys. The EDUCATED people are the ones who educate their children the proper use of real guns, the proper/okay use of toy guns.

5 moms found this helpful

A.M.

answers from Kansas City on

wooooow lol...there is one answer on here that is just sooooo offensive lol. i can't believe it actually. wow. wow!

i wasn't going to chime in until i saw that. i was very "don't push guns" with my son till he was 3-4 and it became, as many moms have already said, inevitable. and the older generations just never bought the whole "prohibition" theory and he ended up getting some as gifts...so yeah, it kinda fizzled out. prohibition has never worked. but how would i know that if i'm -what was it...less educated. riiiight. and an uninvolved parent, too. that's lovely lol. not sure she could have written a more offensive response if she had tried! but at least it was only one....i'm so thrilled to see all the down to earth, realistic, laid back moms.

5 moms found this helpful

X.O.

answers from Chicago on

Haha, you were me, about 2 years ago, when I came to this board complaining about how my husband bought my boys toy guns and I was so conflicted about it :)

Long story short, the fine ladies on this board convinced me that, sooner or later, all kids are going to come across toy guns, and that my job is to make sure to lay down the groundrules for using them.

My son was MUCH more interested in them before, when they were off-limits, than he is now that he is allowed to use them.

5 moms found this helpful
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D.K.

answers from Pittsburgh on

Nope. I will NOT support companies that market violent toys to children. That said, I do not discourage my son's play with guns he makes from sticks, lego, etc. I do encourage problem solving within his pretend play. I think it is very reasonable for him to learn that 'bad guys' are often people who need a more creative way of getting their needs met - they don't always need to shoot each other, sometimes they just need a hug.

5 moms found this helpful

J.E.

answers from Minneapolis on

When my daughter was born, my son was 23 months and someone gave him a cowboy outfit with a holster and toy gun. He wanted to be a cowboy and wore it EVERY day for like a year.
Their dad hunts a lot and they wanted to be like daddy. They would go around the house hunting their stuffed animals - it was hilarious watching them "stalk" the teddy bear.
They've both gotten their firearms safety permits (went to camp for a week to learn safety, survival and shooting skills). They both gun hun and shoot bow and are responsible because they've been taught the dangers and safety.
They are the first ones to correct ANY child they see aim a toy gun at a person - regardless of if they know them or not.

4 moms found this helpful
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L.M.

answers from Cleveland on

The kids that I have been around tend to fall into 2 camps

The more wealthier educated parents do NOT let their kids play with toy guns,

and the more lower income, less educated, less involved parents do allow them, and alot of other stuff.

This is just my experience I'm not bashing those that do allow it, just of the kids that we have met through preschool --wealthy, through church-- low income, through day care at the y, through dance class and sports etc they tend to shake out this way.

4 moms found this helpful

M.F.

answers from Portland on

Nope.
Never.
No squirt guns, no cap guns, no bb guns, no nerf guns, nothing.

She has never, in 7 years, turned one of her dolls or a stick into a gun.
One time one of her male cousins was pretending to shoot his sisters and my daughter, I told him that he had to stop playing that way or he wouldn't be able to play with my daughter.

Later I found out his parents, my husbands sister, got him a BB gun, my daughter doesn't go to their house anymore.
She sees her cousins at her grandparents house only.

I ask all her friends parents if they have guns before she goes, and if they do, the kids can play at my house.

There are plenty of other toys, thousands of other toys, with out using a weapon designed for killing as a toy.

4 moms found this helpful

C.W.

answers from Lynchburg on

My two eldest sons were about 2 and 3...I had NEVER had guns...or allowed them to watch anything but PBS...

One morning, they had toast with their breakfast...and the elder one 'bit' his toast into a gun...lol Have no idea to this day how he thought of this.

I don't know if it is genetic...but I figured things like squirt guns...and super soakers (with guidelines) were OK.

That's my job I guess...to help my kiddos navigate 'appropriately' in a world CHOCK FULL of things I wish they were not exposed to...

Best Luck!
michele/cat

4 moms found this helpful

C.M.

answers from Washington DC on

yes, we have toy guns, water guns and nerf guns. I have no problem with them playing with them either

4 moms found this helpful
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D.T.

answers from Muncie on

Squirt guns are fine within the rules, outside and in swimming trunks/suit. I prefer my daughter not play with nerf guns, she's rubbish at the rules, "forgets" them. My husband has two, the rules are: No firing at people/pets/ TV inside or outside.

Edit: I grew up around REAL guns. My father's a hunter and he and my brother collect them. My father also taught gun safety, I had to attend every year. I personally don't like guns, I can handle one and am a fine shot, but it's not my thing. Education and guidelines are key to both play guns and real guns.

4 moms found this helpful
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G.H.

answers from Chicago on

When my daughter was 3 we were at great clips for my son. My daughter was playing with the legos. She yells across the salon, "Mommy look at my AK47 just like Daddy's".

All of my kids play with guns, both genders. Barbie has been in battle many times. I have been attacked many times by my little army's of good guys & bad guys. My rear end has been the target often, thank goodness the "bullets" are soft.

3 moms found this helpful
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H.W.

answers from Portland on

I will not supply my son with a toy gun at present. He hasn't really asked for one, but does make them out of things. If he makes them, I just remind him that he may not point them at any living creature.

However, we are letting him 'shoot' a bow and arrow we made with sticks and string and use a catapult he built himself, after we watched an online how-to video. He launches whole nuts with them. We do let him have spray bottles too...

And SH-- Nice link. Thanks.
We will teach him about real guns and gun safety when he's a bit older. He's five now. He hasn't asked for toy guns, but is asking for a bow and arrow toy and a sword and shield toy. He's happy with this for now-- when and if he really starts to press for a toy gun, we'll think about it. ( I should add that he's an only child and doesn't have a sibling to play this with, anyway, and our good friends don't really encourage gun play either.)

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K.M.

answers from Kansas City on

Update: Really Lily? You really think only poor and uneducated people let their kids play with guns? Clearly, you must be one of the rare uneducated people that doesn't allow guns--because, with a statement like that, you CANNOT be very educated! I would gladly put my many degrees, financial status, church attendance, and private school tuition bills up against yours ANYDAY! Ignorance is far more dangerous that a Nerf gun!

I avoided it too, but it's just so hard. My boys (6, 4, and 1) started making guns out of Legos. My 6 year old got a Nerf gun for his birthday and we bought an extra for his little brother. I don't really like guns, but my husband goes to the range regularly and wants to teach them how to use one (when they're MUCH older) and gun safety.

3 moms found this helpful

M.D.

answers from Washington DC on

My brother was in the Army for 5 years, my oldest boy was 9 months old when my brother went in and my second was born mid-way through his first tour in Iraq. They LOVE to play Army with him.

They have lots of guns and fighting toys, but they are the kindest, most gentle boys you'd ever meet. They also have lots of older tpy guns from the Civil War and Revolutionary War era's because they LOVE history.

3 moms found this helpful

C.C.

answers from San Francisco on

Yes, sure. (And I'm a total Bay Area hippie mom, for the most part. ;) My girls have Nerf guns and Super Soakers. Actually most of the kids we know have these toys as well.

When I was a kid, we had actual BB guns and would go out into the fields (I grew up out in the country) and shoot cans off of fences. Can't imagine letting my kids wander off with guns, but that's what we did back in the day and nobody shot each other or themselves, miraculously!

ETA: I almost forgot - they also have this wooden six-shooter that shoots rubber bands. OUCH! Their grandpa bought them that one.

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J.K.

answers from Sacramento on

I never thought I would, and then they start making guns out of everything... legos, toast, sticks... I completely avoided guns until my son was in kindergarten. Before that time he didn't seem ready for that kind of play. He was introduced to it by older boys when he was in preschool and would get scared by that kind of play. Now that he's older he understands that it's just pretend and that they are just toys. And he knows how to stop a game or remove himself if he isn't comfortable playing. He knows what real guns look like, but we don't have any in the house.

We have just set boundaries about how to play with guns. Same with swords and any other kind of weapon. You can't just run around shooting people or animals. The person you want to play with has to agree that we're playing a game. Swords can be hit together but you can't poke or hit anyone with or put them close to faces.

I don't see any social-economic link between boys that are "allowed" to play with gun and those who are not. And before I was a parent I really did believe in the whole nurture vs nature thing. The idea that if you raise your kids not to play with guns they won't. That's baloney... they will. It is just *in* them and suppressing the nature in boys (or girls) isn't any better for them then letting them loose to play without boundaries. I do think, however, that's important that they be mentally ready and mature enough to understand how to play or it can be scary playing with kids who are more aggressive.

Good luck~

3 moms found this helpful

C.T.

answers from Santa Fe on

Yes we let our kids play with toy guns (nerf guns, etc). My son has maybe 5-6 different ones but he rarely plays with them. Every now and then he and his friends pretend they are "spies" and they run around getting the bad guys. My 2 year old daughter can shoot bad guys with the best of them!

3 moms found this helpful

K.M.

answers from Chicago on

I waited until he was closer to 5 and could understand the implications of a real gun vs toy gun etc.

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K.S.

answers from Minneapolis on

I let my son play with toy guns. He has cap guns, nerf guns, squirt guns, laser guns, handmade wooden guns, etc. He plays with toy soldiers, too, setting up elaborate battle scenes since he was 4. At age 8, he can tell you all sorts of facts about the American Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and World War II.

I worried at first but then my husband pointed out that he did the same thing as a little boy and he grew up to be totally anti-war and is one of the most peaceful, non-violent people I have ever met. We talk openly about guns and the difference between real and fake, when it is inappropriate to shoot pretend guns, how pointing even a toy gun at someone can make people very uncomfortable. He is not allowed to ever point a toy gun at me unless I agree ahead of time to participate in a dart gun or squirt gun battle.

My son will also take gun safety courses when he is old enough and will have the opportunity to learn to hunt for food if he so chooses. I went through gun safety classes at age 16 and think it is important for everyone even if you never plan to fire a gun again.

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A.B.

answers from Dallas on

I don't purchase guns for my daughter, but she's played with squirt guns at others' houses or parties. I don't make a big deal of it, but I don't encourage it, either. My bigger thing is guns. I totally support the right to bear arms, but I also have had several incidences in my family and neighborhood of guns thought to be unloaded while cleaning accidentally killing children. So, I don't want to encourage her to consider them play things and frankly want her to be very afraid of them.

Regardless of whether your allow your child to play with guns or keep real ones in your home, you DO need to talk to your kids about guns not being toys and being very dangerous. Just because you don't have them in your home -- toy or real -- doesn't mean that their playmates don't have guns in their houses when they go to visit. So, they do need to know that guns are serious business and what to do if a playmate pulls one out at their home.

3 moms found this helpful

A.G.

answers from Dallas on

Yes. We live on a farm in Texas, and my kids know all about gun safety. They know the difference between real guns and toy guns, and some in between (air soft guns - technically toys, but they can hurt).

They play with water guns, nerf guns, and air soft guns, and my oldest often goes to the gun range with me or with his grandpa and shoots real guns. Like Jennifer H.'s children, both of my boys are extremely calm, peaceful boys. They just like, and respect, guns.

3 moms found this helpful

N.G.

answers from Dallas on

My 5-year-old daughter is a tomboy and she mostly plays with "boy" toys. She has guns, swords, laser-blasters, etc. She loves them!

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G.B.

answers from Oklahoma City on

Squirt guns no big deal. Toy guns that serve no purpose except for pretending to shoot people then no. Not in any way.

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I.G.

answers from Seattle on

Nope no toy guns here and also not at DD's school. We have also been to several birthday parties at boys' homes and so far none at none of her friends' houses have I seen a toy gun... maybe they hide them, I don't know, or maybe it isn't true that ALL boys must play with toy guns.
Good luck.

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❤.M.

answers from Los Angeles on

Nope. And guess what? He started using his thumb & forefinger and
making a shooting sound?
Really? Ugh, it must come from seeing it on tv or watching someone play
video games.
So I relented & bought some water guns which he loves & douses me
with water.
Oh well!

2 moms found this helpful

J.H.

answers from San Antonio on

We allow the kids to play with water guns and Nerf guns. They have used real guns and know the difference between a real gun and their toy guns. They're also the most pacifist kids I've ever met. One of the kids was hit at school and instead of retaliating she walked into the nearest classroom (bloody nose and all) and said she needed help.

Letting the kids play with water guns won't cause them to be angry or more aggressive.

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D.P.

answers from Sacramento on

My kids play with nerf guns and water guns, they have never asked to play with the ones that look even close to real.

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K.U.

answers from Washington DC on

water guns come in shapes now that aren't GUN shaped...egads.....the NRA wannabees on here are out of control.
no my kids never had fake real looking guns, nor did they have make any out of legos, sticks, or otherwise, cuz once again they dont watch violent movies so imaginative play is HAPPY, not VIOLENT.
if u take advice from on here solely ur kids ar at a loss....just get them the real thing and send them to a birthday party to teach them its cool...lmao.

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S.H.

answers from Honolulu on

http://www.scholastic.com/resources/article/when-good-kid...
Above link: This is a good article about how kids play, at certain ages and per development.
So in conjunction with this, you can help your kids discern different types of play, but while knowing about play development and roles.

I have a son. He is now 5. My eldest child is a girl. My son per his gender and age stages, just plays differently and has different interests and interactions. Even without having a toy "gun" or watching fighting shows... he would just make "gun" shapes with his fingers. Pretend play.
And even if he and my daughter played girl things and activities together, and my home was full of "girl" things before he was born.

My son and daughter (who is 9), have toy water guns. I don't have a problem with it. They also have foam toy "swords" and shields, and I and my Husband do not have a problem with that.

However, we ALSO teach and guide our kids... about what is appropriate or inappropriate for their ages, per toys... and whatever they may see on TV commercials and our explaining to them... about the perceptions or right/wrong, or what is age appropriate for them... to learn about or know about.
So, a toy "gun" is not just a "gun" to them.
There is knowledge about it too, because we teach them and guide them on it.
And they, even my 5 year old son... they both know what is "fiction" and non-fiction.

So also, per age stages and development and how kids at different ages and per gender... may play differently or pretend play, we always talk with them about it.

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S.L.

answers from Kansas City on

I grew up watching cowboys and Indians and we played with guns and holsters, toy of course, and had fun with them when I was in my cowgirl mood. My brothers all had them to play with and we had fun but never thought of really killing anyone with one or that it could be 'real'. I don't think it hurt us at all and yet I tried to keep guns from my little boys. It was the time of the late 60's and early 70's and when it was not popular to have guns or war. But those boys and every other one I've been around, made guns with lego, fingers, sticks, etc., etc. and we had no guns and were not around violence. I think it's a boy thing and as long as they know it's not real and that you NEVER point a gun at someone or touch a real gun if you would see one, I think it's a passing thing for kids. That's my opinion and after raising my kids and years on this earth I think you can't stop it really so I gave up trying. One of our 4 boys joined the military and the others are not into guns really.

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H.P.

answers from Houston on

We use spray bottles instead of water/squirt guns. I don't like pointing guns at people for sport, never have.

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M.D.

answers from Dallas on

I have two boys, and yes I let them play with them. Heck, my husband and them shoot the nerf guns not to mention how many squirt gun fights we have had. I don't have a problem with them playing with them at all. My oldest son, 15, wants a real gun, I have a huge problem with that. I told him he has no need to have one. We aren't the hunting family. This past winter, my cousin, (distant cousin) age 17 was shot by his friend hunting. When it comes to real gun, there should be a lot of instructions as well as adult supervision. It was a tragic accident, I guess my cousin when hunting many times, very experience, but accidents can happen.
I have no problems with Toy guns at all.

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R.R.

answers from Dallas on

Yep - best times in the neighborhood - when 6 or 8 boys run through the neighborhood playing war. I tried with my first son to not do the gun thing and he turned everything into guns. Now he is an adult with a weapon fascination. Younger son, age 10 - plays with guns all the time. He has a BB gun that is only allowed out with one of us and NO FRIENDS. He is taught all the safety rules and loves his guns. Much easier to not fight it.

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L.C.

answers from Raleigh on

MY boys have tons of them. I always said they will never have one, but then they made them out of the sandwich :) I am surprised you made it this far without getting them one .
For us ......... God made boys providers and protectors , so it's just who they are. Of course we always talk to them about the dangers of real guns .

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L.F.

answers from San Francisco on

We play with squirt guns. Mom included. :) I don't allow them to play with any realistic type guns or play shoot anyone. Its only for water play and if it ever escalates to shooting anyone or acting out violence, then..game over. But the water guns are super fun during the summer and the whole family can be involved.

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R.S.

answers from San Antonio on

yes...we have many toy guns...

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A.K.

answers from Bloomington on

Yes, even though , always said , I wouldn't. They would make guns out of sticks & things. Then , they would go to someone's house & play with them. They would receive them as gifts and it just got too hard to control. So, I caved.

1 mom found this helpful

M.B.

answers from Orlando on

Yes in fact he just got a pirate gun from Disney world

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T.S.

answers from San Francisco on

Yes, my son loved all forms of toy weapons and had a blast with them! He also played LOTS of video games with shooting and explosions.
He's now 19 and doesn't have a violent bone in his body :)

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H.D.

answers from Dallas on

My son doesn't have any that mimic the likes of a real gun, just a couple of nerf guns, a cheap-o water gun and a couple that look like what those star wars guys carry (I clearly don't watch enough Star Wars, lol!). The Star Wars ones are always a hit when other boys come over since they have lots of flashing lights and make lots of intergalactic type noises.

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S.G.

answers from Grand Forks on

My boys really love their Nerf guns and Super Soakers. When they don't have toy guns, they make their own out of Lego, sticks or fingers. Personally I prefer gun play over sword play because with gun play they are not actually hitting each other, it is just pretend.

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L.M.

answers from Dover on

They are not as popular now as they once were but they are still around and some look very real. I let my son (and will my daughter too) but I didn't buy them. I did/do have strict rules...never point it at someone unless it is a full water gun (if it's empty, it is just like any other gun and should not be pointed at a person). I had this rule because I never wanted to risk a kid thinking a gun was fake but it was real (or looked real) and someone getting hurt or in trouble.

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M.F.

answers from Houston on

I have never bought the realistic looking toy guns for my 5 year old son, but nerf guns and water guns are okay by me. He makes guns out of sticks, Legos, fingers you name it. He is my oldest so as much as I try to shelter him he is now playing with the neighbor kids who are already in school and I just cringe when they play cops and robbers, zombies, bad guys such games like that. I expect good behavior and kindness but you know he is a boy and is gonna play boy games.

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A.P.

answers from New York on

My boys are 5 & 7 and I was the same way you are. I wasn't anti-gun, but just preferred that they not have them. However, everything they played with turned into a gun (Legos, their fingers, a curved toy). I called them "blasters" as if "gun" were a bad word or something. Then my brother-in-law, an Army man, bought them their first guns and they loved them. They played with them for a few months, but now they're not really that into guns. Sure they love to play with water guns, but the Nerf ones aren't really that fun for them anymore. Guess they got it out of their systems. My thought is that my brother and I played with them and we turned out pretty healthy.

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