April One, 2017
A few years ago I took a class based on the Edward R. Murrow’s 1950s radio program, This I Believe, where writers, famous and not, read a 500 word essay about something they believed, no matter how outlandish it might seem to others. In that the Sandy Hook slaughter was still heavy on my heart, the following emerged:
I BELIEVE THERE IS NO GOOD REASON TO HAVE TOYS THAT MIMIC KILLING WEAPONS ON THE SHELVES OF STORES ACROSS AMERICA!
TRIGGERS FOR TOTS
Shortly after the horrific Columbine massacre, a friend, knowing I collect bookmarks, gave me one: “I may not be able to do great things,” it read, printed down the front of a strip of fringed brown leather, “but I may be able to do small things in a great way.” (attributed by some to Mother Theresa).
Then a few weeks after the Sandy Hook tragedy, I found the bookmark again in the pages of one of the books I was sorting through to donate to the library, immediately transporting me back to that bloody Columbine Spring.
Preparing for a visit from my husband’s six year old grandson, I ventured into TOYS-R-US looking for toy musical instruments; maybe a guitar, a tambourine, cymbals. Not ten feet into the store I was confronted by a gigantic bright green sign: “SUMMER FUN!.” it promised. Beneath it, a four-foot tall white wire basket was filled with a plastic-wrapped arsenal of toy weapons; florescent pink and green water pistols, two foot long military assault water blasters.
TRIGGERS FOR TOTS?!, I thought as my neck heated up with rage, the CNN images of rampant evil still in my mind. I filled my shopping cart with the damn things, walked to the front of the store and asked, as politely as I could muster, to speak with the manager.
He appeared within a few minutes, a 40ish year old balding man dressed in a crisp white shirt, navy trousers and a blue and red striped tie. “What can I do for you?” he asked.
Pointing to my loaded cart, I shook my index finger at him…”..these things do not belong in this store!!” I said, none to quietly, and then walked out—leaving him to put the arsenal away; at that moment determined to ban the manufacturing and distribution of toys that mimic killing weapons, teaching children to pull triggers before the age of two.
I tried organizing a DISARMING DAY at the local library when a toy weapon could be traded in for a good book….but nothing came of that. I also wrote an Op-Ed piece for the local newspaper that didn’t get published.
That was 14 years ago. I did settle down, and with millions of other Americans, watched as the list of school shootings and public massacres lined up, one after the other; while the debate about The Second Amendment to our Constitution, written in and for another bubble of time in an evolving society, keeps reminding us not to mess with those guns.
…those guns that have killed nearly four thousand people since the Sandy Hook tragedy last December…
…those guns that were never intended to be in the hands of demented civilians…maybe the same hands that learned to pull the trigger of a $14.99 Gigantic Water Blaster bought for Summer Fun when he..or she..was just a Tot!
Of course not every kid who grows up shooting toy guns turns out to be a vicious killer, but think about it; just consider the possibility of something so seemingly insignificant as banning toy arsenals sending forth a flutter or two–putting even a tiny chink in the armor of generations of trigger-(un)happy souls.
Not a big thing; a little thing…at least getting rid of one of the earliest imprints on a young person’s brain…if you really want to settle an argument, pull a trigger! Is that what we want to continue teaching the generations on the rise?
With summer approaching, there they are again, this time at my local supermarket…..water-blasting assault weapons, toy pistols of all sizes. Again, I sought out a manager.
“I know,” he said, shrugging his shoulders, “but I don’t make those decisions….there is a Customer Service card at the front of the store..write to them about it..”
..11/20/14..a little update via MAIL ONLINE/among a list of toys NOT to buy for Christmas…
“The ‘worst’ toy of  is the Air Storm Firetek Bow, which shoots glowing arrows 145 feet; and an even more ‘sobering toy on the list was the SWAT Electric Machine Gun, which comes with a warning that it COULD be mistaken for a real weapon.
What kind of nonsense is this?
12/1/14 As the two year anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre looms heavy on our hearts, here is something I found on my IPhone this morning. May this be successful crossing the Mexico border into the USA consciousness:
A school girl poses for a picture while holding a toy gun at a school in Ciudad Juarez , where pretend pistols were exchanged for non-violent toys as part of the Children’s Festival for Peace