Playing with toy guns with my seven year old last week seemed a little “heavier” in the wake of recent tragedies.

This comic is dedicated to the victims, families, and loved ones of those that were injured or killed at The Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida on Sunday June 12 2016.  This comic is also dedicated to all victims of gun violence world wide, as well as those that have lost their lives while enrolled in military or police service.

I loved playing with toy guns as a child.  My Han Solo replica Star Wars blaster was one of my prized possessions.  I had a black vest to match that also doubled as a Rambo vest when needed. I watched cartoons like G.I.Joe and had all the action figures with all the gun accessories that came with those toys.  It was an American childhood and guns had become as iconic as apple pie, baseball, and comic books.

I loved my toys.  America loves it’s toys.

These toys are also tools.  In the hands of good conscionable citizens, well-trained armed services and security workers, and even farmers that need to protect their herds from wild predators; guns can provide much needed service and security.

Toy guns are tools to.  They provide us hours of fun.  As a parent they also provide us a chance to teach our children about the true nature of weapons.  A chance to teach about responsible gun use.  A chance to play “good guys and bad guys”.  A chance to show them how a bad guy with a gun acts and how a good guy with a gun acts.  I feel a little “Hey, don’t point that dart gun at anyone’s face; it could hurt someone” goes a long way toward building a foundation that teaches people the real world effects of a ballistic weapon.

Would tighter gun restrictions help?  Maybe.  Would more “Good Guys with Guns” help?  Maybe.  One thing I feel would make a difference is continuing educating our children well.  I could never and would never blame toy guns, video games, movies, or Gangsta Rap for the effect it’s had on society.  I believe art is a reflection of our world and not vise versa. As an artist that just my opinion. However, children need help extracting moral meaning from their play time and the art they consume.  Even if just one percent of the playtime efforts points the child toward the moral meaning, that is an effort well spent by a parent.

As an adult I’ve played with guns as toys.  I’ve shot targets.  It was fun.  I feel it was very much a lifetime foundation that was built under me that made me understand not to point that gun at someone purposely or accidently.  I knew to treat that machine with respect.  I knew if my vigilance wavered for just one second I could fire of a stray round into my foot or toward the people around me. In short, I knew not to shoot a dart into someone’s eye.  I knew to be careful.

Get out there and play.