Saturday, January 2, 2016
Post No. 197: Have We Arrived at the Point Where We Should Consider Toy Gun Control?
© 2015, the Institute for Applied Common Sense
I do not know the source or provider of the toy gun being “wielded” by 12 year old Tamir Rice, who was killed by Cleveland police officers arriving on the scene. However, who provided the kid with the toy weapon is something which has bothered me since I first heard the story.
I also recognize that “kids” today are taller, larger, and in some instances, appear to be more mature in appearance, than in years past. (We might also consider addressing the distribution of human growth hormone to adults who might share it with their underage children to boost their Little League performance. But that’s a story for another day.)
Yet, I had toy guns when I was a kid, and never had to worry about police showing up in response to a call (or human growth hormones for that matter).
Knowing what I know today, and taking into consideration the intense media coverage and public debate surrounding officer involved shootings, if I were a black parent, or perhaps a grandparent, I would not buy any member of my family under the age of majority, any toy weapon which resembles a real weapon. If I were a white individual, even though I might not have the same level of concern, I would not let any of my kids play with such a weapon. Toy guns arguably rise to the level of illicit, street drugs, with respect to their danger potential, depending on your neighborhood. They can lead to your death, or that of your minor loved one.
The same arguably applies to extended family members, and friends and neighbors of the affected family, whether they be black, white, or polka dot (referring to the purchasing adults not the kids).
Several questions come to mind, assuming a kid is killed by police while wielding a toy gun. For purposes of this discussion, although I speak of toy guns, it is my intent to include any type of toy weapon, including toy knives, which, now that I think about it, I had as a kid, and which I could affix as a bayonet to my military style toy rifle):
1. Should adults (including parents) providing toy weapons to kids, killed by police who mistakenly think that the weapons are real, be responsible for the deaths?
2. Should those adults be civilly liable or perhaps have their other kids taken from them?
3. Should those adults be criminally liable, perhaps for child endangerment? (Or, should parents be charged with child endangerment when they inadequately prepare their kids for the dangers and complexities outside of the home before they reach the age of majority?)
4. Does an adult who is merely a passerby or who sees a kid with a weapon prior to the arrival of the police, and who thinks or knows that it is a toy, have any personal, ethical, moral, community, or societal responsibility to disarm the kid, or notify the parents, because a dangerous confrontation might develop once someone calls the police?
5. Does the adult making the call to the police bear any responsibility to determine whether the weapon is real?
5. Do the manufacturers of toy weapons bear any responsibility for making toys look so realistic that it is difficult to tell what’s real and what’s not, or as some would argue, for making any toy weapons at all?
6. Should manufacturers of toy weapons bear civil legal responsibility?
7. Should manufacturers of toy weapons bear criminal legal responsibility?
My blog’s target audience is college students, and my goal is to raise some personal responsibility issues (ahead of time) so that when stuff happens, at least they will have mulled the issues and considerations over, instead of trying come up with solutions on the spot. After all, There are More Than 2 or 3 Ways to View Any Issue; There are at Least 27. ™
Processing those 27 or more possible explanations for the kid having the weapon as the sirens blare and the force rolls up is a tad complicated for even the best trained and well-intentioned officers. So it arguably behooves us to think about this stuff before the call to 911, since the “talking heads” offer no solutions. But then again, perhaps we do not want law enforcement first responders considering the other 26 reasons if the goal is efficiency.
Would we, as a society, having answered or addressed any of the questions enumerated above, reduce the number of instances where kids are killed by police arriving on the scene after being informed that “someone” is carrying a “weapon.”
The cynic in me says no.
However, as we begin this New Year, in a nation where there is such a level of fear of others and we are seemingly incapable of addressing the number of officer involved shootings of adults (including those who have committed minor infractions but paid the ultimate penalty), I sure as hell hope that we adults at least figure out a way to deal with this kids with toy weapons issue.
I didn’t have to worry about carrying my toy weapons in the 1950s. Perhaps it was an expectation on my part that my adult parents and others in the community would protect me, as naïve as that may have been.
However, today, I can’t help but think that we purportedly responsible adults ought to be able to figure out something. After all, we are capable of sending a man [and now a woman] to the moon. We ought to be able to figure out how to keep our kids safe and allow them the freedom to play… and simply be kids.
The really is that we can't change how police perceive threats, and who they consider to be threats primarily driven by DNA. So the question is, "Have we arrived at the point where we should consider toy gun control," or leave it to free-market economic, private enterprise entities to police themselves?
Happy New Year
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