The childcare industry in NSW is discouraging childcare centres from allowing children to play with toy guns and swords and such, and you'll understand the reasoning if you've noticed that the overwhelming majority of small girls who play with dolls become mothers.
I'm a case in point. I spent hours every week between the ages of two and 12 playing with weapons that killed untold cats and dogs, every family member, anybody who walked past our house, every bird that came within sight and thousands of flying foxes that blanketed the late afternoon sky in northern NSW on their way to their feeding grounds. Oh, and the chooks.
When I wasn't shooting the place up or wielding a sword that I'd made by tying a handguard stick to a piece of wood, I'd be playing with Matchbox trucks in the dirt under the house.
Little tip trucks and tow trucks and even delivery vans, and I don't know why I didn't grow up to be a truckie.
I even had a cowboy suit, which made me feel like a goose because when I had it on I was the only cowboy in the village. Cowboy suits work only when there are other boys in cowboy suits shooting back, and I can't remember whether my sister had a cowgirl suit because a girl in a cowgirl suit would have looked very silly.
There was no embarrassment, though, in having a six shooter in a holster slung low on each hip, in spending hours practising the stance and the draw, and when I could get a packet of caps for the guns the world was on alert.
Dogs, cats and chooks would flee at mere mention of my name. I can still smell the puff of smoke that accompanied the bang when the gun's hammer hit one of those little blisters of what I assume was gunpowder.
With the exception of police and military, and perhaps farmers in isolated areas, I can't see why anyone should be allowed to have a firearm. And I firmly believe that the licensing of Australians to shoot animals for fun is an absurdity
But having to announce "you're dead!" to every shooting victim did become tiresome, especially when they invariably called back "no you missed", and so I graduated to spears made from a long-stemmed weed that we hurled from the thin end woomera style rather than midway javelin style.
Next was the bow and arrow, the bow made from a springy willow tree branch, and sometimes we'd use a nail or a piece of tin at the lethal end and a chook feather at the other, although we agreed to leave the nail out when shooting each other.
Shanghais came next, and we favoured those that fired horseshoe-shaped wire rather than stones because we imagined the wire projectiles were more deadly. Not that I ever managed to kill anything, although a friend who killed a silvereye bird became so upset he gave his shanghai away.
We made the shanghai and the ammo ourselves, of course.
Marble guns came late in my country childhood, when we realised that by hammering closed one end of a length of water pipe, dropping down the barrel a cracker with a lit wick and a marble quickly thereafter we had a proper gun. Makes me shudder now.
Water pistols were always in the mix, and I've always been disappointed that the mega blasters that have been around for years now weren't available when I was a lad. And spud guns, which would use compressed air to fire a pellet torn from a potato, and I may have bought them a little too late for my sons, who didn't seem impressed, so I'll have to get one earlier for my grandson. I'll need one too, of course.
Oh, and slug guns, and while not having one was almost as serious a childhood deprivation as not having a horse I did manage to shoot myself in a finger with a 10-year-old mate's Gecado 22.
The childcare industry, and maybe even you, will be amazed that I did not grow up to be a killer.
Apart from shooting a wallaby on a weekend trip with mates in my early 20s, and swearing off shooting anything ever again, and a brief stint many years ago with a slug gun to shoot Indian mynahs, which I allowed as an exception to the previous oath, I have zilch interest in guns.
With the exception of police and military, and perhaps farmers in isolated areas, I can't see why anyone should be allowed to have a firearm. And I firmly believe that the licensing of Australians to shoot animals for fun is an absurdity, given that people who find pleasure in killing animals are the very last people we should allow to have a gun.
Perhaps these so-called sports shooters had a childhood deprived of cowboys and Indians, cops and robbers, goodies and baddies. An hour or two with a cap gun in a chook pen might cure them.
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