Gunmen: A Far-Fetched Analysis and Some Temporary Solutions

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Before I’m labeled a raging feminist for mentioning that gunmen have been men, I’m telling you I love men but hate machismo. This is a call to purge the world of macho “gunitis” (to coin a new word) like it was hepatitis.

The Gun mystique is glaringly present world over: in every park or city square, there’s a monument mounted on high of some big general flashing his sword or some GI Joe clutching his bayonet. I used to wheel my baby grandson Mendy in Central Park and I made sure to point out (even though he was only two years old) that there was no glory in carrying a rifle, no pride in wearing a uniform. My indoctrination began when I saw his delicate baby face looking up at the fierce military statue on 71st Street and fifth Avenue. A group of bronzed soldiers appear to be falling onto the ground. “Oh,” I whined, “my goodness, look, Sweetie, the soldiers are going to get all dirty; what do you think the soldiers should do?”

Baby Mendy blurted out loud and clear, “they should go home to their Mommies.”

Exactly.

It’s confounding, isn’t it, how some baby boys when they become toddlers, play “bang, bang, you’re dead.” Where did these darlings learn this?

Please don’t laugh and think it’s cute. Even toy water guns should be banned. A young woman I know argued there’s no use—that her kid would substitute a spoon or a stick or something else if he did not have his toy gun. I told her, “that’s fine. Let him shoot with a spoon or a stick—at least he won’t aim with what looks like a gun.”

At the birthday party of my grandson Adam when he was three—as he unwrapped the present from his baby sitter who brought this flashy toy gun all the way from China—I announced aloud, “Nana hates that toy gun.” I did not care whether my testy remark was heard in the noisy celebration; I even held my nose for emphasis as though the gun smelled bad as everyone stared at me.

Next time I visited, little Adam said, “Nana, I hid my gun in the drawer because I knew you were coming!”