The following is an op-ed piece by Sophie Leff, a junior at Northside College Prep. Sophie did Or Tzedek’s Activism and Community Organizing summer program in 2011 and Advanced Activism in 2012. She was a part of the leadership team who planned Or Tzedek’s first Winter Leadership Retreat in 2011. Sophie is currently the Social Action Vice President of Beth Emet Synagogue Senior Youth. In this op-ed, she writes, “There are times when I have to wonder how many young people my age will actually live to be the age where they can say they were born and raised here in Chicago.”
Guns are not toys. This, I think, we can all agree on. I would venture a guess that even those who don’t believe in stricter gun control laws accept that guns can be dangerous and should be used with care, and most importantly kept away from children.
Imagine my surprise when, the other night, I stopped in my local Mexican restaurant to pick up a burrito and was met with a 50 cent machine dispensing very realistic-looking, if less than life-size, “Guns n’ Grenades” key chains. For the low price of half a dollar, you too, can arm your son or daughter with a training weapon.
One of the reasons I was so shocked was that it seems so obvious. Giving a child a toy gun will not teach them how serious and dangerous such weapons are. It will not teach them to avoid guns for their own safety. It will not teach them to approach guns, if they ever must, with a strong sense of responsibility.