Here’s a fun year-end activity one school came up with for its students: exchange your toy guns for a book! As this article reports:
Principal Charles Hill maintains that children who play with toy guns may not take real guns seriously. “Playing with toys guns, saying ‘I’m going to shoot you,’ desensitizes them, so as they get older, it’s easier for them to use a real gun,” Hill said.
A follow-up report on the radio said super soakers are among the toys turned in. Super soakers? Do they know how hot it gets around here in the summer time? Oh well, maybe the kids can throw water balloons and squirt each other with hoses. Wait a sec, that won’t work either. Those kids will probably pretend the balloons are grenades and the hoses are flame throwers!
And besides, haven’t these people ever seen kids who can’t afford toy guns? They pick up sticks and imagine they’re rifles or bazookas. And if no sticks are around, they point their fingers and say “Bang bang!” What will the school officials do next year, cut off the fingers of toy-less kids who say “Stick ’em up!”?
My own feelings about carrying a gun aside, the danger of desensitization is real. It’s just that they are focusing on the wrong thing. You see, the world desensitizes us to the real threat.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12.)
And as horrible and senseless as gun violence is, Jesus told us we are not to fear it:
Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28.)
If schools want to insist that kids shouldn’t play with toy weapons, even when school’s out for the summer, I suppose it’s going to happen. I’d rather we concentrate on teaching about how to deal with the real battle going on around us all the time, though, a battle won only in Jesus. And he won it not by beating anyone up, nor by taking away their weapons. He won it by losing his life.
You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals,
because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.
Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise! (Revelation 5:9, 12.)
It’s because he was slain that Jesus is worthy of all honor that exists in the heavenly realms. Amazing.
So what should we be sensitive to? I tend to think it’s not the remote possibility that a kid playing with a super soaker will grow up and want to take up a firearm and hurt somebody. We should be sensitive to the things of God, focusing on who he is, our relationship to him and what he has to tell us in his word. As Jesus told Peter when he focused on the wrong things:
You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns. (Mark 8:33.)
I’d rather not have merely human concerns. I’d rather have in mind the concerns of God.