Something You Won’t See Anymore. What Happened To Kids Playing With Toy Guns?
Boy, has America changed In 67 years.
In 1951 a Cleveland Plain Dealer photographer captured young Rickey Harbold of Cleveland, OH pointing his toy gun out of the car window.
If your child were to do this today, the adult driving the car would probably be arrested or possibly shot at by the police.
When I was a kid most children played with toy guns. All kinds of toy guns: water pistols, cap guns and clicking toy guns. Many looked very real, and for most kids the more realistic the better. Kids played many games with guns, cops and robbers, war and the now politically incorrect cowboys and Indians.
Those days are gone. Something has gone very wrong in society. I am lamenting for today’s kids and teens glued to their screens playing for hours in their virtual world. Many times kids are using weapons in video and online games that simulate far more violence than the toy weapons that were played with from the 1900s through the 1980s.
When toy guns became verboten I cannot pinpoint, but it was probably sometime in the late 1980s with the addition of bright orange tips to the muzzles. It then became impossible to find a real looking toy gun for good reason. Kids (and adults) were being shot with alarming frequency for pointing realistic looking toy guns at law enforcement.
Years ago it was rare that anyone took out their anger on the general populace and committed mass shootings. Now it has become commonplace, especially among disgruntled and disturbed teens,
My friends and I watched a lot of cartoons growing up. We read a lot of violent comic books. We saw a lot of violent movies. We saw Yosemite Sam shoot his gun hundreds of times. We saw Dirty Harry asking the criminal, “Ah ah, I know what you’re thinking ‘Did he fire six shots or only five?’ Well this being a 44 magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, you’ve got to ask yourself one question. Do I feel lucky? Well do you…punk?” Then Harry pulls the trigger.
We saw TV shows, many in perpetual reruns, with abundant guns and violence; Superman, Bonanza, The Rifleman, S.W.A.T., The Untuchables, The F.B.I., Hawaii Five-O, Mannix, Wanted Dead or Alive; heck even in Charlie’s Angels the ladies pulled their guns out of their purses every now and then! Media shaped our youth and childhood.
Yet somehow all that TV and movie violence didn’t translate to very many mass shootings in the 1970s. Why? Maybe there was a clear line delineating between fantasy and reality or right and wrong.
I’m not going to suggest a cause or a solution to youth violence or mass shootings. But all this online connectivity and the fraying of real life in-person socialization, cannot be having a good long term effect on humanity.
I’m just sorry that kids today can’t play with toy guns – instead of shooting people with real ones.