Guns don’t kill people, Darth Vader does (with guns)

Island Packet – The Little Man has developed a spirited interest in gun toys these days, which is no surprise, since he’s 4 years old and a boy, and at some distant point in evolutionary history it was programmed into human DNA that during their early development, boys will get really, really into gun toys.

I believe this is because all current boys are descendants of cavemen and Neanderthals, two groups of very old and smelly people who spent their days fleeing from things like dinosaurs, mammoths and saber-toothed tigers. (Note: I am not verifying any of this with Reference Materials, because that would cut into valuable Sudoku time, but my point is that if our ancestors had to regularly make sure they weren’t carved up into bite-size caveman-chunks by carnivorous monsters, it stands to reason that some genetic residue regarding defense and violence is probably still gummed up in our DNA. Frankly, if I ran the risk of being chased down by a saber-toothed tiger this afternoon, I’d probably want a rifle on hand too).

Still, it’s a hard thing to reconcile the difference between toy guns and real guns with a tiny person who gets about 60-75 percent of his food successfully into his mouth and still, every now and again, decides it’s probably in his best interest, time management-wise, to just drop his pants and pee outside.

This isn’t something I was hoping to have to do yet. Frankly, it was something I’d hoped I could have taught to him by the media and movies, which is the tack I’m also taking with sex, religion, evolution, gravity, morality, all of mathematics and how to drive a race car. Pretty much all of the important life lessons I learned came via cartoons or professional wrestling, and I turned out reasonably OK, even though I solve most of my interpersonal conflicts by trying to drop anvils on people or by hammering them with one of my patented, crippling Flying Elbow Drops.

Anyway, I suppose you could argue that 4 years old is a little early to tackle such issues; you could more accurately argue that the days of feeling indignant about having to teach young kids about dark life lessons are long, long gone.

Besides, the boy’s interest in violence is entirely my fault. Well, it’s not entirely my fault; part of the blame must be laid squarely at the feet of Darth Vader. A few weeks ago, he expressed interest in watching “Star Wars,” and me, having spent most of my life as a “Star Wars” nerd, which is a term that never gets less redundant, I consented with the kind of misty-eyed, over-the-top glee you only find in parents whose child has just expressed interest in some stupid hobby/pastime/interest they have. (Seriously, I couldn’t have been prouder if he told me he just joined the E Street Band on the same day he solved the climate crisis and decided to marry Tina Fey.)

But being 4 years old, the boy’s attention span lasts for a few scant minutes into anything, regardless of how exciting it is. But the first few minutes of “Star Wars” is all about lasers and explosions and Vader lifting a guy a foot off the ground by his neck. So this is where I’m imagining he picked up all this gun talk, unless he’s been sitting in his room watching his “Scarface” DVD or something.

Anyway, this is why I’m not terribly upset about hiss getting into guns; if it wasn’t “Star Wars” it’d be cartoons, or news, or whatever he happened to catch on TV that day. For instance, in a recent episode of “Clifford,” Clifford, Cleo and T-Bone set out to deliver justice to a shady, mysterious scofflaw known only as “The Kibble Crook.” (It turns out that the Kibble Crook was really T-Bone, and he was just afraid of admitting to Cleo that he jacked her special dog food, so no one ended up getting shot, but the vigilante-justice subtext was totally there).

Sure, I’d rather he not have to worry about this sort of thing yet, just like I’d like him not to have to worry about anything. But the hard part is going to be teaching him that despite what he may be taught by a cartoon rabbit and dark Jedi, his problems can’t be solved with guns. They can only be solved by flying elbow drops.

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About Jeff Vrabel

My writing has appeared in GQ, Men’s Health, Success, the Washington Post, the official BruceSpringsteen.net, Indianapolis Monthly, Billboard, Modern Bride and more. View all posts by Jeff Vrabel

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