THE BLOG
06/19/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Semi-Automatic Insanity

Another young boy has been shot by police for carrying a realistic looking weapon. Thank goodness he was not killed and is listed in stable condition. Many more have died in these encounters.

In this case, it was a 15-year-old playing cops and robbers when real police showed up and told him to drop the gun. When he turned toward them, they shot him in the upper body.

The International Health & Epidemiology Research Center has tracked scores of these cases since 1983 of children dying young for now reason except that manufacturers build bigger, more violent and more realistic guns.

Take a look at these three Uzi mini sub-machine guns:

http://airsoft-bg.com/images/uzi-1.jpg

http://remtek.com/arms/imi/uzi/mini/mini.gif

Which one is the toy?

(The first -- a toy bb-gun.)

I'm not about to start talking down whether boys want guns. Many do. I have a 10-year-old son who would make a gun out of mud and twigs if could not use a water gun or something. But I do wonder about the ever more extreme versions of guns that are put out by toy manufacturers. Most boys want a realistic semi-automatic weapon.

Recently my son was given a nerf gun. Innocent enough. This nerf gun had a jaw dropping magazine of bullets for Jacob to throw over his shoulder just as he entered combat in the back yard. It was a "25-Dart Belt-fed Automatic Weapon" that would make the Terminator blush. Here it is:

http://www.ubergizmo.com/15/archives/2008/02/nerf_vulcan_beats_them_all.html

Isn't there something insane about all this? Isn't there something wrong with so deeply connecting "real" masculinity for young boys to death by automatic weapon fire? Masculinity as Rambo or the Terminator dropped into Grand Theft Auto.

More and more, we are living in a world of camouflaged-diapered babies, where a child might well toss aside his pacifier for a toy grenade. The codes of masculinity have become more extreme despite the threat to healthy and holistic child development. And none of this touches the really nutty messages we sent to girls who will themselves serve in ever larger numbers in the armed forces. Try shooting with a Barbie.

It's time to fight back. Kids don't need semiautomatic weapons any more than they need a get out of school free card. We can do better for our kids.