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Posted on Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 1:32 p.m.

How a toy gun and my 4-year-old (unwittingly) helped me process a tragedy

By Jenn McKee


The toy gun that launched a conversation about Newtown in our house.

Jenn McKee |

One week after the Newtown tragedy, I came downstairs, still in my pajamas, and saw a silver toy pistol on our kitchen table, in the place we normally set down meals for our 4-year-old daughter, Lily.

Sitting in her chair, wearing white tights and a white dress with blue polka dots, Lily declared, “I’m taking it to preschool.”

“No, sweetie,” I said, a chill in my voice. “You’re not.”

“Yes, I am,” she replied, stubbornly. “For show and tell. Some of the boys bring guns for show and tell.”

“I told her she couldn’t take it,” my husband said, bustling about getting everyone’s breakfast. But my mind was already racing. How could I explain Newtown to a 4-year-old when adults—myself included—were having an impossible time processing it themselves? I’d naively thought I could avoid the whole conversation. Lily wasn’t in elementary school yet, and kids her own age wouldn’t have stumbled upon the story.

But it was like the tragedy refused to stay in the shadows, shoved under a rug.

Delaying, panicking, stalling for time, I looked to Joe, my husband, and pointed at the pistol. “I thought this was on, like, the highest shelf,” I said, referring to our living room’s floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. He shrugged, and I knew it must have been in a place that had been high enough to hide things when Lily was 2, but not high enough for a chair-hoisting, motivated 4-year-old.

The cap gun had been part of Joe’s Halloween costume years ago, when he played in a brass band; because the group was playing “The Cowboys,” the trombone section had decided to dress the part. Joe and I hadn’t looked at the cap gun since. But now, suddenly, it was forcing me to take my young daughter to a place I didn’t want to go.

I sat in my seat at the table, took a deep breath, and began, “Sweetheart, you can’t take that to preschool because just a few days ago - “

At this point Joe stopped in his tracks and looked at me, eyebrows arched in surprise, and muttered, “You’re going to try and do this? OK,” then continued packing the kids’ snack bags.

“A few days ago, a man took a gun into a school with young kids, and lots of people got really, really hurt.”

“Did they die?” Lily asked, like a reflex.

Swallow. Breathe. “Yes. They did.”

“Did they disappear?”

“No, not exactly. But that’s an interesting question. People generally believe that there’s two parts to a person: the body—which is just the physical part of who you are—and the soul, which consists of the things you think and say and believe. And many, many people believe that when you die, your soul goes to a beautiful place called Heaven. But that’s just one thing people believe. Because no one knows for sure. Some people believe your soul is reborn as another person, or an animal, or a tree, or whatever. So people who believe that a soul goes somewhere after you die would say that the people who died did disappear, in a way.”

I gathered my courage, steering us back to the matter at hand. “But see, many of the people who died were little kids that aren’t much older than you.”

My voice inevitably cracked saying these last words. I’d been in the newsroom on the day of Newtown, of course. I cried at my desk as the TV and Twitter and the conversations around me reported the latest updates on the shootings, and the number of confirmed child deaths kept rising.

I couldn’t stop thinking about how Lily would start school in the fall—and how I would feel as one of those parents who stood waiting for news outside the Sandy Hook Elementary School.

“Why are you crying, Mommy?” Lily asked. “Did you know the kids who died?”

“No, I didn’t.”

“Do you know their mommies and daddies?”

“No, I don’t. But even though I don’t know them, I know how I would feel if someone hurt you, so I feel sad for them and what they’re going through. And I feel very scared and worried for you and Neve. I want to do everything I can to make you safe, but events like this make that seem really hard.”

I took a breath and gathered myself a little. “So the reason you can’t take the toy gun to school for show and tell today is that a lot of people are feeling very scared and sad right now, because of what this one man did with his gun.”

“But why did the man kill them all?”

This may have been the toughest question she threw at me that morning.

“That’s a good question, too, kiddo. Some people don’t think quite right, and even if they get help from doctors, they still feel compelled to hurt other people. It’s hard to say. But he was sick, in a way, and must have been in a lot of pain.”

At this point, I steered Lily toward some other show-and-tell options, and she quickly seized upon one of her Hanukkah gifts.

Was I right to talk to my 4-year-old about Newtown? I still don’t know. Lily’s not a kid who’d be satisfied with a non-answer like, “Because I said so”—she’d likely only ramp up her interrogation in response—but even so, in retrospect, I suppose I could have tried harder to avoid the topic.

So why didn’t I?

Maybe it’s because, after combing through several news articles about Newtown, and talking with other stricken, mourning adults, I needed to break the event down to its most basic facts and questions—something we often only do when talking to our children—in order to absorb it. To start to get past the initial shock and horror and focus instead on things I might possibly be able to change, or even improve, within the world around me.

And maybe Lily, in her own unwitting way, was helping me find the courage to do just that.

Jenn McKee is the entertainment digital journalist for, and blogs about parenting at Reach her at or 734-623-2546, and follow her on Twitter @jennmckee.


K Thompson

Sat, Jan 12, 2013 : 3:54 p.m.

The real 'G Orwell' wouldnot say the silly gov't takeover 2nd amendment thing you said above. Too bad you are abusing his name. But how about no plastic guns in school either, not for show and tell or any other reason. If we didn't ses and model them all the time they would less likely appear as answers to problems, defense, control, power, machismo and all tge other stupid readons people cling to.

Martin Church

Fri, Jan 11, 2013 : 6:03 p.m.

Very good. I am a support of personal protection. But what you did and said was perfect for the situation you were in. as your daughter gets older, perhaps you will take your daughter out and let her learn first hand what a fire arm can do and what to do if she in counters one under the training of a qualified instructor. All children should at the appropriate age experience the Hunter safety course in our local adult ed. programs. this course is not just on how to hunt (which can be applied to using a camera in place of a weapon) but also what to do when you run into a weapon in the wrong place and to experience the power of the weapon. As a scout leader, I have found once a youth has been properly trained they never want to violate the trust evolved in the use of these firearms. Otherwise you did the right thing.

Kellie Woodhouse

Fri, Jan 11, 2013 : 3:42 p.m.

Jenn, I don't have kids yet, but if I did I think I would have wanted to handle the situation a lot like you. Thanks for sharing your story, I'm sure it's one that's played out in millions of households recently.


Fri, Jan 11, 2013 : 3:36 p.m.

G. Orwell, in regard to the Facebook pages devoted to memorializing the victims..One can rename/rework a Facebook page which is already in existence and the page creation date remains the same...thus creating the illusion of a memorial predating the tragedy.

Ed Kimball

Fri, Jan 11, 2013 : 8:10 p.m.

G. Orwell: I assume you have evidence for these claims. Please provide.

G. Orwell

Fri, Jan 11, 2013 : 3:54 p.m.

How do you explain United Way creating their Sandy Hook website on 12/11/12 and the Sandy Hook Tribute website was created on 11/10/12? Over a month prior to the shootings at Sandy. Coincidence? I doubt it. Maybe Sandy was suppose to happen earlier. I don't know. Somebody screwed up big time.


Fri, Jan 11, 2013 : 3:31 p.m.

Dear Jenn, from one mom to another, I commend you and your husband for the excellent manner with which you handled this situation, Lily is in the best of hands! you rock!! Madeleine, a.k.a. "mady"

Wolf's Bane

Fri, Jan 11, 2013 : 12:31 p.m.

Awesome! Good job.


Fri, Jan 11, 2013 : 6:14 a.m.

All that to a 4 year-old? Seems kind of extravagant to me (and a few others here). Why not just tell your child that it wasn't a good time right now. Tell her, "I'll talk with (name of care-giver, teacher, etc) and let you know" - rather than mentally scramble in an attempt to convey information way before a child that age can process. And - what did you tell your child about "her space" and "mom's and dad's spaces" (using a concept here so bear with me). It is a proper time to explain to a child that age that she has her spaces and that your space and your husband's are NOT to be transgressed. And that goes for parent's property too. No wonder "kids" at U of M spend so much time criticizing their parents. (they really do) They're finally free - having experienced what this 4-year old is just beginning to experienced in the way of "parental guidance." And - I know what I'd do if my wife told me to hide a toy cap gun on the highest shelf. It's called DIVORCE. :-) [But then, I know my wife has better intelligence, better judgement, more trust in me and our kids- and better parental skills. ] To your husband: good luck, buddy.


Fri, Jan 11, 2013 : 3:27 p.m.

why not let this excellent mom handle the situation as SHE feels it should be handled?! she knows her child. you do not.

Jenn McKee

Fri, Jan 11, 2013 : 3:14 p.m.

A few things: first, because my children will be raised Jewish (I'm not, but my husband is), they will be learning about the Holocaust at a pretty young age, as my husband did. So this didn't seem a crazy decision to make knowing what lay on the horizon for Lily. Second, the gun is a cap gun that sparks, so the kids are too young to play with it without getting hurt - which is why we, TOGETHER, chose to put it on the top shelf. Third, I'll pass your good wishes along to my husband. I'm hoping he'll stick it out.


Fri, Jan 11, 2013 : 5:40 a.m.

We had a very similar conversation in our household! All the way down to my spouse's raised eyebrows :) Thanks for sharing. I appreciate your gentle and thoughtful approach.


Fri, Jan 11, 2013 : 2:24 a.m.

We never told ours about 911 until she entered a public school. A switch from charter to public. There she learned about it. But here is the crux of the whole thing. These children at this age do not need to know. All they need to know is the rules say they cannot bring a toy gun to school period. Even mine knows that and did from that young age. Lie to the child and then explain 10 years later why. No harm done. Otherwise, whitewash the truth. They do not need to know at this age.


Fri, Jan 11, 2013 : 3:39 p.m.

Hate to burst your bubble but ours is a well rounded individual who wants to join the FBI and travel the world. So, put that in your pipe and smoke it. BTW we did visit the 911 site before it was damaged. So, don't tell me what not to say to mine or any other child until you know who and how the parent raises their child.


Fri, Jan 11, 2013 : 3:27 a.m.

And then 10 years down the road you have a sheltered, clueless 14 year old who thinks the world is all butterflies and rainbows and is unable to accept the fact that bad things happen to good people for no other reason than that's how life sadly works. Fast forward another 10 years and now you have a 24 year old college graduate who thinks they can change the world into a theoretical utopia if only everyone just got along and "talked" about their problems; and that more government, more laws, more taxes, can make this all happen miraculously. No harm done? Unfortunately the harm has already been done. Children need to eventually grow up, but we now have a generation of young people who think we should live in a nanny state where "they" provide everything so that everyone can live carefree, idyllic, childlike lives as adults.


Fri, Jan 11, 2013 : 12:32 a.m.

This article seemed to be more an ode to the author herself. Something she can discuss over tea with her friends, and send in to the local newspapers perhaps. All the child knows is that she'll have to bring another toy for school - not a single lesson was learned.


Fri, Jan 11, 2013 : 6:19 p.m.

Folks with girls need to read the book Growing A Girl. There is no gender stereotyping here. Boy toys are girl toys pure and simple. Did you know that they are considering changing the easy bake oven to another color so boys can learn to cook too? Now lets get real. Mine played with boy toys and skinned her knees in the trees. A gun is a gun no matter how you look at it. GI Joe toys? No problem.

Jenn McKee

Fri, Jan 11, 2013 : 3:28 p.m.

If my daughter wanted to bring a jet or tank or GI Joe to preschool, that would be fine with me. The men and women who serve in our military branches have each made a conscious choice, as an adult, to put themselves in harm's way in order to protect our country, and they have my utmost respect and admiration. The children in Newtown did not make a choice. They were innocent children getting their first taste of education. As to your second question, since writing this column, I've learned that kids in Lily's class are not allowed to bring toy guns of any kind. But hypothetically speaking, I guess I'd say I'm not sure. In this instance, the temporal proximity to Newtown made it a no-brainer for me, since it had been on my brain constantly. So I guess, if this came up in the future, and toy guns were allowed at her preschool, I'm not sure what my answer would be. But I'll tell you this: we go to a family camp for vacation each year, and that camp has a rifle range. If, as Lily gets older, she wants to try that out, I'll take her. Maybe I'll even try it out myself. Who knows? But this incident wasn't about me hating guns; it was about a tough conversation, and my means of mourning those kids.


Fri, Jan 11, 2013 : 3:39 a.m.

Ms. McKee - What would you say if your daughter (let's pretend she's your son) wanted to bring a fighter jet, a tank, or a GI Joe to class? Would you have explained to him that it's wrong to bring such implements of warfare to class so soon after hundreds of American servicemen have died in Iraq and Afghanistan, or after so many Afghanis, Iraqis and Pakistanis died at the wrong end of these "toys?" Will you allow your daughter to bring that toy to class sometime in the future, perhaps after "enough time" has passed? Is it just about time? Or is it about the toy? Sorry if I keep referring it to a toy, and not a gun.


Fri, Jan 11, 2013 : 2:25 a.m.

Agreed. There is no lesson to learn here. Pure and simple this is not something you bring to school for show and tell.

Jenn McKee

Fri, Jan 11, 2013 : 2:24 a.m.

I have a four year old and a one year old, as well as a job, so I don't get to have tea with friends. Sounds really, really nice, though! As for any lessons learned, frankly, I just wanted to make Lily understand why she couldn't take a toy gun to school that day, and maybe introduce the concept of empathy as a bonus. I know at the very least that the former was achieved.

Linda Peck

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 11:31 p.m.

Thank you very much for this writing about your family, Jenn. We are all suffering with this tragedy, and especially those who have little ones who are leaving the family safely each day to go out to school. Thank you for telling us your experience with your little girl.


Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 10:08 p.m.

Instead of telling us your story of the long paragraphs of conversation - that you remembered word-for-word? hmm. "Compelled" to a 4 year old? - why not first, as an ADULT grasp the concept, that guns DO NOT GO OFF ON THEIR OWN. People GO OFF on their own because of INFLUENCES! When I was young 5-7 (I am 60), I loved Annie Oakley and had two toy guns and a holster. I never attacked or killed any one. Yes, today is different. I did not have cartoons with violent characters from the moment I turned on the idiot box (my very wise Mom's term). Have you truly looked at all the characters your children watch or listen to on a daily basis? What makes me so upset is how the gun issue is so distorted, when no decent amount of CRITICAL uproar is made for the mental illness issue! The amount of money spent for studies or at our universities in the area of psychology is staggering. PUT IT TO USE! The BRAIN controls the movements of the human body - like, picking up a gun and CHOOSING to kill. Basic, simple logic. IMO, a simple explanation to a 4 year old and a quick diversion (which naturally happened after your paragraphs of conversation with her) would have been best. Do you really think your 4 year old remembers all of what you said? I trust the conversation made YOU feel better. If so, great. Did it change anything within Lily about guns? Doubt it.

Ed Kimball

Fri, Jan 11, 2013 : 8:06 p.m.

@Wehrwolf: The gun bans in the UK and Australia HAVE significantly reduced gun violence. I suggest you check the statistics. Don't believe everything the gun manufacturers and their lobbying arm, the NRA, tell you. You're right that gun control did not prevent the Columbine killings. Unfortunately, neither did the two armed guards or their guns. "If you want to make policy, you actually do need to understand what you are talking about." Something else I can agree with. There's a natural experiment about the level of violence in countries with tight vs. loose gun control. Those with tighter control generally have much lower levels of homicide and suicide than those with looser control. I assume you know that the same day as the Sandy Hook killings, a man entered a school in China and attacked children, injuring two dozen of them. Unlike Sandy Hook, none of the children in this attack died. The man probably would have killed them, if he'd had a gun instead of a knife.


Fri, Jan 11, 2013 : 5:52 p.m.

The gun control experiment has already been done, and failed miserably. Neither gun bans in the UK or Australia did anything to REDUCE violence, and the 1994 AWB did nothing either, and did no prevent the Columbine shootings. Gun control does not equal crime control. However gun banners continue to sing the same, tired old tune, while constantly crying for "meaningful discussion". If they actually wanted a meaningful debate they would consider ALL options, including the notion that guns in the hands of good people (which does happen to be the majority of people) can deter crime and is an effective solution the mass shooting problem we face. To dismiss this and call for a "discussion" is anything but -- it's simply a lecture. A lecture being given by people who understand little about the objects they want to ban, and have no motivation to get informed. If you want to make policy, you actually do need to understand what you are talking about. If somebody who knows nothing about medicine tries to make policy regulating doctors and their trade, most people would shoot him down by saying he doesn't know what he's talking about. Yet when similarly uninformed people start trying to make policy to restrict firearms, it suddenly becomes unacceptable to say anything in dissent, even when the dissent is backed with actual fact and not knee jerk emotion.


Fri, Jan 11, 2013 : 5:42 p.m.

Apparently Eagleman's comprehension skills are lacking, or like most gun banning liberals, he doesn't care about the facts. I won't go into how "gun laws were liberalized" in the 1960s; I already addressed that in a reply to another one of eagleman's misguided posts. However, if you care to elaborate how "gun laws were liberalized" in the 1960s, using actual facts to back that up, I'd like to know. As to how "murder has exploded" that is just patently false. We have at the moment one of the lowest rates of murder or violent crime in the United States. This is per the FBI's own data. All of this has been going on for over 20 years, despite the sunset of the "assault weapons" ban in 2004, and a skyrocketing rate of private gun ownership, including these "assault weapons". NICS checks for gun buyers are at an all time high, indicating the American public, contrary to what people like eagleman will have you believe, still believes in the right to bear arms and and exercise that right. Furthermore when you actually LOOK at gun ownership rates and homicides in various countries you will actually find that they do not consistently correlate at all. Nations like Switzerland and Canada, which have relatively high rates of gun ownership have less homicides than the US. Similarly, nations with the strictest gun control such as Mexico or Russia have significantly higher rates of homicide than the US. This is not a "gun problem"; it is a people problem. Additionally, the UK and Australia, which gun banners like to hold up as utopic examples, are anything but. Since these nations banned guns in the 1990s, the rate of violent crime in both has sky-rocketed. The UK is the most violent nation in the EU, and it has a total violent crime rate that is almost twice as high as the United States. The same goes for Australia. This siren song that less guns=less violence is simply not true. The experiment has alrea

Jenn McKee

Fri, Jan 11, 2013 : 3:33 p.m.

On that morning, I wasn't angling to plant ideas or opinions about guns into my daughter's brain. I was just trying to have an honest conversation with her about the situation at hand. At no time during this conversation, you'll notice, did I tell her all guns are bad, and I made a point of talking about the shooter's mental illness and the role it played. It's a complicated thing to break down, obviously, and I tried to stick to the facts we know as opposed to my own opinions.


Fri, Jan 11, 2013 : 12:59 a.m.

Your rant comes off as pretty racist, just because the GUY is white, he's mentally ill? Would you be ranting about this if it were a middle eastern gentleman or a youthful black person?


Fri, Jan 11, 2013 : 12:47 a.m.

How does your rant explain the significant difference in homicides between those nations who have low gun ownership and those who have a high amount of gun ownership? Also, please explain how murder has exploded since the liberalization of gun laws in the 60's? The fact is that with every relaxing of gun laws there has come a proportional increase in homicide. Guns don't kill people, people WITH guns kill people.

G. Orwell

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 9:36 p.m.

The curious thing about Sandy Hook is that there are several memorials and fund raising websites, and even RIP Facebook pages for the victims that were created days and even a month before Sandy Hook happened. Just Google it.

Unusual Suspect

Sat, Jan 12, 2013 : 12:45 a.m.

Do those Facebook pages have picture of chemtrails on them?

G. Orwell

Fri, Jan 11, 2013 : 5:14 a.m.

Billy First, there is no evidence Soto's website was changed. Second, how do you explain United Way creating their Sandy Hook website on 12/11/12? And Sandy Hook Tribute website was created on 11/10/12. Over a month prior to the shootings at Sandy. Coincidence? I doubt it. Maybe Sandy was suppose to happen earlier. I don't know.


Fri, Jan 11, 2013 : 3:03 a.m.

Ok george....I did a little digging on Victoria Soto. The page was indeed created on the 10th...but when it was CREATED, it was under a completely different title and description. The creator of the page then CHANGED that information after the tragedy happened. But I can give you a better explanation that will fit in with your mindset. IF this was some kind of on a grand scale mind you think for just one MOMENT a mistake like that would be how it was unraveled? When conspiracies reach a scale like this....mistakes don't get made...."they" couldn't have gotten to that point by making mistakes like that...

G. Orwell

Fri, Jan 11, 2013 : 12:51 a.m.

eagleman How about researching it before criticizing people. All the websites and videos have date stamps. Everyone knows that. How am I the crazy one when Google, Vimeo, etc. have date stamps when the websites and videos were created and many of them have date stamps prior to 12/14/12. For example, Victoria Soto's RIP Facebook was created on 12/10/12.


Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 9:35 p.m.

Thank you for an excellent article. Despite the difficulty, I believe one of the WORST diservices we can possibly do our children is try and protect them from the discomfort of tragedy and shelter them from seeing what the realities of the world are really like. I still believe one of the most important decisions my parents made in raising me was never covering up the gruesome realities of life. Having grown up in a household were my mother was a crime scene investigator and my father a former youth services officer, I was more mature at 6 then most adults are at 30. People don't realize the tragedies that occur behind closed doors every days that are just as horrendous as Newtown and all the more tragic. People live in a bubble of self delusion, enhanced by the belief that everyone is "nice" or "reasonable" or "trustworthy." Keep your children safe by making them aware of the harsh truth. Sometimes the best medicines are the most bitter to swallow.

G. Orwell

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 9:34 p.m.

The best thing is to teach children (in their teens) how to use and respect firearms. Don't people want their children to eventually be able to defend themselves against criminals. How is a female suppose to defend herself against a 250 pound man when he comes into her house to rob, rape and kill her. Why shouldn't she have the ability to defend herself? What about the elderly? In many cases, people may not be able to call 911 and wait for the police to arrive. It could be too late. Learn to use firearms rather than shunning it.

Jenn McKee

Sat, Jan 12, 2013 : 3:06 a.m.

What's being called out as fiction, exactly?

Unusual Suspect

Sat, Jan 12, 2013 : 12:48 a.m.

I'm with you, Tru. I'm glad I'm not the only one calling fiction on this one.


Fri, Jan 11, 2013 : 6:36 a.m.

G. Orwell: good thinking. But you have to understand something about people like "mgoscottie" - they have a phobia (unreasoning fear) of guns. So naturally any practical suggestion about how to "live with firearms" is totally beyond them. They also are delusional: they think that every story about a home break-in or other kinds of attack are fiction - and therefore can't possibly happen in real life. So they're 100% secure in"knowing" they'll never need to defend themselves at all. BTW: my own example of raising kids isn't common but I told my daughter (who wanted a .22 rifle at age 8) to wait until she was 10. When she was 10: I gifted her with a new .22 and took her to a gun range. I and a Marine Corps. Sgt. friend had a great time teaching this "child" how to handle her gun responsibly and WELL. She loved it. It made her feel more grown up, she had gained a new skill and could see she had gained my approval for good work. And when she was attending U of M, she got her NRA Rifle Instructor certificate so she could teach other kids what she had learned. -- And THEN, we read fictionalized accounts like the one we've just read. Really discouraging what some "adults can accomplish" with their kids - and in public to boot! ;-)

G. Orwell

Fri, Jan 11, 2013 : 2:08 a.m.

mgoscottie "What if someone tries to attack me and the government is all against my freedom to defend myself and don't have a nuclear weapon?" Why do you think we have the Second Amendment. Any more questions?


Fri, Jan 11, 2013 : 12:57 a.m.

You sound like you need someone to get you a nightlight. Also, I say let's get nuts and scale it up. Teach people (especially young children) about using nuclear weapons. What if someone tries to attack me and the government is all against my freedom to defend myself and don't have a nuclear weapon?


Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 9:26 p.m.

Ok I'm kinda curious now.....what preschool allows toy guns to be brought in? (since the daughter claims that the "boys" in the class bring them in) All the ones I look at have policies that say NOTHING that even looks like a gun...


Fri, Jan 11, 2013 : 3:20 a.m.

Yeah. Her daughter never said that. Kids can't even wear shirts at school with images of guns on them.


Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 9:22 p.m.

When I was in high school we brought guns to school. Not toy guns, but real guns. I went to school in rural SE Ohio, and 2/3 rds of the boys vehicles had gun racks, with weapons displayed. We often took new and unusual weapons in to show friends and teachers. Many of us hunted before or after school, and guns were normal. Almost every male in my school carried a pocket knife and the longer the blade the bigger the status. You know how many people got shot or knifed in schools in Ohio when I was a kid? Zero. Now guns are banned at school and carefully controlled at home. Knives are not permitted and are a cause for automatic expulsion. Yet the shootings and stabbings continue to escalate. The problem is not guns. If it was we would have had a blood bath back in the day. One thing we didn't have was video games and movies with graphic violence in sickening detail. The garbage that passes as normal today would never have been allowed when I was a kid. It's time to wake up to the real enemy. Protect your kids from the violent filth, not toy guns.


Fri, Jan 11, 2013 : 3:12 a.m.

If you're referring to the response by Eagleman, I agree, that is one of the dumbest things I've ever read. Gun laws liberalized in the 1960s? Wrong. LBJ signed the Gun Control Act of 1968 into law, making the sale and transfer of firearms the business of the federal government under interstate commerce. Prior to that you could walk into a any store that sold guns, plop down your money, and walk out with no questions asked. Following the GCA, anyone who sells guns must be licensed by the ATF (an FFL holder), keep records and paperwork, and submit their businesses to regular inspection. Buyers now had to meet certain criteria to make sure they were not "prohibited persons" This was strengthened in 1993 by the passage of the Brady Act, which required a national background check for any person wishing to purchase a gun. The next big firearms restriction came in 1986. Prior to this, "machine guns" or fully automatic firearms were heavily regulated, requiring an extensive and expensive background check and a $200 tax on each firearm that fell under the control of the National Firearms Act which has been in place since 1934. This maintained a federal registry of all legally registered machine guns. In 1986 this registry was closed, meaning no newly manufactured or imported machine guns could be registered by civilians. Regarding that ridiculous comment about the Framers of the constitution never envisioning today's small arms - they use the term "arms", knowing that the future would bring advancements they could never envision. Similarly, the Framers could have never predicted the internet, cell phones, social media, 24 hour "news", satellite communications, etc. By Eagleman's logic, none of these moderns forms of speech should be protected by the 1st Amendment of the constitution. Instead we should be limited to hand cranked printing presses and quill pens, because that was what the people back in the 18th century ha


Fri, Jan 11, 2013 : 12:56 a.m.

this is the dumbest thing I've ever read......


Fri, Jan 11, 2013 : 12:40 a.m.

Back in the day, Bob, people did not own AR-15s, AK-47s, and automatic shotguns. It wasn't until the 60's that guns laws were liberalized. The few who did have similar weapons were as follows: Bonnie and Clyde, the Mafia, Capone's gang, the Barker-Karpis gang, Pretty Boy Floyd, Baby Face Nelson---are you noticing a theme here? In fact most cops had to buy their own guns "back in the day". The FBI or as it was called at the time--the Bureau of Investigation-did not carry arms nor did they have the ability to arrest anyone until 1935! Semi and fully automatic weapons are for those who want to kill a lot of people as quickly as possible. That is why these guns were invented. The Founding Fathers could not have conceived of weapons like the AR-15. When that right was enshrined muskets and knives were the weapons of choice for those who lived on the frontier.


Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 9:27 p.m.

You were doing fine till your own "garbage" about video games and movies...

lindsay blackwell

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 9:22 p.m.

this was really wonderful.

Clinton Resident

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 8:49 p.m.

I am surprised that children are allowed to bring a play gun for "show and tell". The school system my children grew up in stopped that years ago. I do feel you did the right thing in braking down your explanation for your daughters understanding level. You can not give to much information or their imaginations will create all kinds of things (I could get into a long discussion about this). But as she gets older, she may bring the subject up again. You again explain only to her level of understanding.


Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 8:43 p.m.

In a day and age where little kids are suspended from school for pointing their fingers and saying BANG, I really doubt that little boys are taking toy guns to show and tell.

Jenn McKee

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 9:29 p.m.

I've been to Lily's friends' birthday parties, and they often get sci-fi laser guns and superhero weapons – all of which I could imagine being brought in for show and tell, except when the preschool is trying to enforce a more general "no toys for show and tell" policy, which arises at times because the children get into fights over the objects and sometimes break them.

Elaine F. Owsley

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 8:37 p.m.

The part that made me shiver was Lily's comment that "boys bring guns for show and tell". Part of me wants to know what kind of guns do pre-schoolers bring and what do they say about them. Another part worries that this kind of thing is commonplace and kids aren't learning the serious side of guns. Most of me believes the Constitutional right to "bear arms" applies only to an army to protect the citizens of this country.

Ed Kimball

Fri, Jan 11, 2013 : 7:54 p.m.

G. Orwell - the armed guards at Columbine weren't a lot of help.

Yael Ganet

Fri, Jan 11, 2013 : 2:47 p.m.


G. Orwell

Fri, Jan 11, 2013 : 2:05 a.m.

eagleman You can infer what you want. I thought I'd point out some facts that may not support the official theory. It is only a theory at this time since they are still investigating. "Secondly, citizens with guns won't stop a professional army. The suggestion that they would is absurd. AR-15s are nothing against trained killers with tanks, jets, artillery, helicopters, and satellites that can see the hair on your chin." We did a great job in Vietnam didn't we. Plus, 160,000,000 Americans are armed just to keep the military and our government in line. Also, not all the military and police are going to go along.


Fri, Jan 11, 2013 : 12:26 a.m.

G. Orwell, you really should not believe everything you read on the internet.Your inference that this was a staged event is repulsive and extremely irrational. Secondly, citizens with guns won't stop a professional army. The suggestion that they would is absurd. AR-15s are nothing against trained killers with tanks, jets, artillery, helicopters, and satellites that can see the hair on your chin.

G. Orwell

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 9:24 p.m.

The curious thing about Sandy Hook is that there are several memorials and fund raising websites, and even RIP Facebook pages for the victims that were created days and even a month before Sandy Hook happened. Just Google it.

G. Orwell

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 9:19 p.m.

What happens if the government goes bad (tyrannical) that controls the army? The Second Amendment is there to prevent this. Otherwise we could have Hitler, Mao or Stalin.


Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 8:34 p.m.

I think you did great. I had a hard time talking about it with my 15-year-old! I also remember trying to explain 9/11 to him as a kindergartener.


Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 8:33 p.m.

Wait, boys bring guns to school in Ann Arbor for show and tell?? Not at our school. Regardless of what just happened, the two things you should have told her were that she was awesome for seeing the injustice of sexual bias and that despite the injustice, two wrongs don't make a right. I did enjoy your discussion however and didn't mean to dismiss it's importance. It's just not what I would have done.

Jenn McKee

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 9:25 p.m.

To clarify, this didn't happen in an Ann Arbor school; and while I thought about seizing upon the sexual bias issue, the immediacy of Newtown - as I mention, it had only been a week since it happened - was pretty much blotting out all else in my mind in that moment.


Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 8:30 p.m.

You didn't have to lie to the kid. Tell her the truth that the kids that died went to heaven. Also, that the guy that was the shooter was crazy and didn't know what he was doing. Tell her that guns of any type are not allowed at school, that's the rules. What's so tough and "hand wringing" about the truth?

Ed Kimball

Fri, Jan 11, 2013 : 7:53 p.m.

She did tell her the truth. What did she tell her that was untrue? She told her the truth about what different people believe. Maybe, just maybe, not everyone believes what you do. (Maybe, just maybe, there's a slim chance that what you believe isn't even true, but why go there?) "He was sick, in a way, and must have been in a lot of pain." I don't see anything untrue there. "Tell her that guns of any type are not allowed at school, that's the rules." Even if that were true, it's easy to imagine a four-year-old asking "But why is that the rule?" Now we're back where we started.


Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 9:36 p.m.

Also, maybe she doesn't believe in the whole Heaven thing. I don't, so I'd be lying to a kid if I said that.

Jake C

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 9:10 p.m.

It's hard to tell if you're trolling or not, but I'll bite... "Tell her the truth that the kids that died went to heaven." Even the Jewish and Atheist kids? That's not what most mainstream Christian denominations teach, unfortunately. Also, there's a good chance this shooter (and many others) wasn't crazy and knew exactly what he was doing. Also, guns are currently allowed to be openly carried in Michigan schools by concealed permit holders & law enforcement, unless specifically prohibited (as far as I'm aware). So pretty much everything you said is wrong...


Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 7:47 p.m.

nice letter, gotta be sooo hard having that talk. regardless of ones views on guns, this would also be a good teaching moment about firearms. i.e. dont touch them, go tell an adult when you see one, etc. etc.


Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 7:26 p.m.

Very nice. thank you.