When I was growing up, my dad had a .22 revolver of no particular brand. The last time I visited him, the little thing was still around... somewhat rustier, but still holding on to the title of The Gun of The House, with little chance of being dethroned.  If you know guns (I didn’t then... I do now) you realize that a .22 revolver with a 2″ barrel is as close as a firearm will ever get to being a toy.  There are smaller guns, but few are less impressive.

Of course, a firearm is never a toy. And therein lies it’s beauty for a boy (or for a girl). In a sense, a gun is not unlike a dog. See, a gun and a dog are both irrevocably real. Unlike the make-believe emotions and attentions garnered by a doll, both a dog and a gun command real respect, real responsibility, real love. You take care of them like a man, or things die.

Anyway, As a kid I did not have a firearm. The love and respect which I could have bestowed on a firearm were instead lavished upon a succession of slingshots, a Daisy Air Pistol, and finally, a Daisy Air Rifle.

And of course, I lived in awe of Dad’s .22. I knew where it dwelled (supposedly well hidden from us childefolk) and I would often take sidetrips (if I was alone at home) to look at it, and depending on how brave I felt, to hold it.

Alone at home with a loose gun, you say!? I can hear the horror echoing through the blogwalls. But that is my point.  Or one of my points.  Horror of guns in the vicinity of children is badly misplaced horror.  I ask the horrified reader merely to grant me this: I was (and remain) a sane boy. Strange though it may seem... that matters crucially.  It would never occur to a healthy sane boy to play shoot-your-sister, let alone aim the weapon at himself!

Of course, the danger was there, and it was real, and I should not play it down.  But equally real are second story windows and electric sockets, always readily available, and my curiosity about these other real dangers never once led me to venture into Deathland.  This must mean -- I gather -- that my parents somehow succeeded in inculcating in me an understanding of danger.

A father must strive (with all his might) to point out the world’s dangers to his child.  Believe me, the distant prospect of my son suffering a serious injury terrifies me more deeply than even the most vivid image of my own demise. But my job as Dad is not to shelter him from physical danger, any more than it is my job to shelter him from a broken heart by preventing him from meeting girls. 

Instead, I will teach my son what I know about danger (and what I know about girls).

I have considerably more to say on this matter... but not tonight.

In the meantime, here are a couple of reputable purveyors of firearms for young people (how dare I!). 

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