by Erin Kotecki Vest: Cross-posted from Queen of Spain blog.

My son and his friend are running around my house ‘shooting’ each other with Nerf guns right now. They are diving on the floor, collecting bullets, telling the other “YOU ARE DEAD DUDE” and generally being nine-year olds.

I want to make them stop. I want to freak out and take away their toy guns and stop their game and tell them they are DONE.


There will be no more fake gun fights in this house. I no longer want to raise a son that glorifies the gun culture. And as a parent I take full responsibility for allowing him to go down that rabbit hole. The toy guns. The endless video games with nothing but war play. Things we find totally normal.



I realize in his mind it’s make-believe. In his mind he KNOWS the difference. But today I just can not take the fake vs. real when a friend’s nephew was in that kindergarten class in Connecticut. When so many parents tonight grieve. When the unthinkable CONTINUES to happen again and again in our country.

It begins at home as the culture of guns and violence is forever put in front of their young faces. Even responsibly they are desensitized to the bloodshed. And yes, kids have been doing this forever. If not Nerf guns they would be making guns from sticks or out of their hands. But would they be doing it as much? Would it be as vivid? As real? As daily? As routine?

I just don’t know. I just know I can only control what happens in my own home. I can not control what happens in my child’s school not matter how involved I may be. Or if they are at a friend’s house no matter how well I think I know the parents.

I have to teach my children just how dangerous this world can be, without stealing their childhood…their innocence. Without taking away the very thing youth should be about: discovery and joy and laughter and play.

I watched the President cry. I felt the pain in my friend’s words from across the miles. And I agreed with the Governor when he said evil came to their community.

The problem being…I see no end to the tears, or the pain, or the evil until we, as a nation, face this culture we have created and now celebrate. A culture of hate and violence. A culture of “I’ve got mine, who cares about yours.”

A culture of not being your brother’s keeper. All anyone wants to do is make sure they’ve got their weapon, their safety, and to hell with anyone else.

This is the last lesson I want to teach my children. Ever. Yet this is the lesson so many are teaching theirs’.

As others fight to make further cuts to services we need…like mental health services. And education-the ONE thing that could save us all.

So as I debate all the toy guns scattered about my home, and the violent video games we play…I ask you to think about where this conversation begins as a community. Where it starts as a nation. Where we really dig in and make some changes so no parent, no family, no children ever have to go through this again.

Because I don’t think any of us can take this anymore. Our hearts can only break so many times before healing becomes impossible.