Trying to Keep Kids Safe in a Gun-Obsessed World

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About Joanna Schroeder

Joanna Schroeder is the type of working mom who opens her car door and junk spills out all over the ground. She serves as Executive Editor of The Good Men Project and is a freelance writer whose work has appeared on sites like xoJane,, and The Huffington Post. Joanna loves playing with her sons, skateboarding with her husband, and hanging out with friends. Her dream is to someday finish her almost-done novel and get some sleep. Follow her shenanigans on Twitter.


  1. Can anyone ever say “BB Gun” without thinking … “you’ll shoot your eye out?”

    Everything in moderation and by all means education. Joanna, go with your heart … I think too many parents second guess themselves. You may also want to remember that as an adult, you have a millions visions in your head about what’s happening in society. Little kids don’t have the same perception, they’re kids and a toy gun is just that, a toy gun.

    I grew up with guns for hunting with my dad … I have a gun in the house but it’s locked away. My kids never even knew I had a gun until a couple of years ago. I got the gun many many years ago when my wife and I lived on the north side of Chicago and it’s been with me ever since. After my dad passed away, I lost interest. It wasn’t the “gun” that gave me a rush, it was hunting with my dad.

  2. Guns never go off by themselves. Accidentally does not apply.
    With kids and guns
    1. Show them where the gun-safe is and keep it locked.
    2. From an early age show them how a safety and a trigger work and how to check the loaded status of any weapon.
    You might be surprised to learn that there are huge expanses of the USA that have near zero problems with gun crimes or gun accidents. And this is because we take them SERIOUSLY as an inevitable part of life that needs to be understood and mastered.

  3. Boys are raised with the message “be a hero,” and simultaneously denied any outlet that would allow them to exercise that role.When they try, they’re told to sit down, stay still, ‘play nice,’ and behave. It leads to a lot of frustration.

    Err… no, I don’t have a solution.

    • I don’t think that it is just about receiving a ‘message’. I think that many boys are just more naturally motivated to locate their identity chiefly in strong agency. Strong agency flourishes in contexts of play fighting, where all parties are encouraged to play to their strengths. Such fighting can evoke strength and confidence from all parties and respect for each other in the sharing of strengths. Guns and swords give a sense of empowered agency, enabling the child to imagine themselves acting with more power.

      The virtues associated with strong agency can also seem to be most clearly seen in context of war – resolution, responsibility, strength of principle, confidence, assertiveness, determination, decisiveness, firmness, dependability, camaraderie, bravery, courage, enterprise, honour, practicality, authority, dutifulness, heroism, daring, intrepidity, leadership, fortitude, perseverance, longsuffering, accountability, forthrightness, diligence, self-discipline, justice, self-controlled passion, independence, thickness of skin, self-mastery, strength of will and nerve, purposefulness, self-sacrifice, resourcefulness, loyalty, toughness of mind, grit, and moral backbone. Any child who locates their identity primarily in their agency will look for such things and will play at games that provide models and contexts for such virtues.

      Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of contexts in which boys will find themselves in within their lives are contexts in which authority figures will be constantly forbidding them to play to their strengths and telling them rather to play to other people’s weaknesses. ‘Playing nice’ is to play like the stereotypical girl, being more sensitive, gentle, less ‘aggressive’, more inclusive, more egalitarian, more cooperative, less physical, less rough, and less competitive, focusing on everyone ‘belonging’, rather than everyone having independent and confident agency. This starts from the earliest stage of life and continues throughout it: stereotypical male forms of interaction tend to be stigmatized and female ones praised as the ideal for all, in the classroom, the workplace, the public square, etc. For any child – male or female, but especially male – who tends to locate their identity primarily in their agency, this is stifling, to say the least.

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