Are parents banning toy guns in the wake of the horrifying school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut?
As the gun control debate unfolds across the country – sputtering in places, erupting in others – Today reports that parents across the country are instituting measures of their own, right at home.
The Today article profiles three parents in different parts of the country who decided to throw away all of their kids' toy guns in the shooting's aftermath. It's a bit of a journalistic cliche to highlight three examples of a phenomenon in order to claim some sort of trend in the zeitgeist. But there are no actual numbers to quantify how many parents are throwing away their kids' guns.
And even Today points out that holiday sales of toy guns don't appear to have budged in either direction.
“For once, I don’t see people looking to blame the toy industry,” Chris Byrne, content director for Time to Play, an independent online toy review site, told the website. “I see people putting the focus on where it should be, which is access to real firearms.”
Play guns, mass produced at least since the end of World War II, represent "a play pattern that’s just not going to go away,” he added.
“There’s a national backlash against guns, but toy guns are one of the biggest properties,” Gerrick Johnson, an analyst at BMO Capital Markets, told the Huffington Post.
In the past five years, toy guns have actually seen dramatic growth in sales, Johnson said. Hasbro, the market leader, reported $414 million in wholesale sales of its Nerf line in 2010. This year, it will sell about $330 million of Nerf products, brightly-colored guns with features similar to popular assault weapons, such as automatic shooting of foam darts and ammunition clips.
Of course, this probably says more about our culture's fixation with actual firearms than it does about the safety of their toy doppelgangers. But developmental experts, for their part, are not overly concerned about playing with the toys.
“Playing with a toy gun is not necessarily a worrisome sign,” said Constance Katz, co-founder of the child and adolescent psychotherapy training program at the William Alanson White Institute of Psychiatry, Psychoanalysis & Psychology in New York. “The focus should not be on playing with guns, it should be on the total emotional life of the child.”
So what's happening in your home? Are toy guns suddenly verboten, or are you letting your little ones play cops and robbers as they have done since the dawn of time? Let us know.