Maryland educators are launching an assault on normal childhood behavior. In Talbot County, Maryland, two boys aged 6 were recently suspended for pretending their fingers were guns while playing cops and robbers during recess. This comes just after another 6-year-old at a Montgomery County school was suspended for the same thing. These suspensions were later reversed, but why are they happening in the first place? They seem to be part of a larger effort to condition our kids to reject guns and the Second Amendment.
It's tempting to call suspensions like these an overreaction to the December shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, but that's not the case. A couple months before Sandy Hook, my son, who is in elementary school in Howard County was playing "war" with friends when a recess monitor warned them to stop shooting with their fingers "because guns are violent."
"I don’t get it," my son said to me that night at dinner. "We were just playing."
In a child's imagination, a thumb and forefinger make a handy play gun. Some adults, however, see a fully cocked finger and their imaginations run wild. Maybe they imagine today's finger-pointer coming back one day as a homicidal maniac and pointing a real gun at them. Maybe they see a future NRA member -- another threat to their dream of a gun-free world. It's obvious they don’t see a cop protecting them from robbers, or a soldier from our country's enemies.
Punishing kids for finger guns has nothing to do with school safety; they know the difference between a finger and a gun as well as adults do. It has everything to do with “moral disarmament.”
What’s more, the idea of using schools as conditioning grounds is not new. Thomas Sowell discusses it at length in his 2009 book “Intellectuals and Society.” After the horrors of World War I, intellectuals of the time determined that “war” and “weapons,” not other nations, were the real enemies. They promoted both military disarmament and “disarming of the mind.”
Nobel prize-winning author Anatole France urged French school teachers to promote pacifism and internationalism, saying, "In developing the child, you will determine the future." Prominent
intellectuals from a number of countries, including many famous novelists, signed a petition banning military conscription, and students at Oxford pledged not to fight to defend their country.
Conditioning a generation to reject arms to promote peace nearly consigned Britain, France and the rest of the world to a very bleak future when World War II exposed the pacifists' folly. Yet, the world's progressives continue to champion policies that target guns, and private gun ownership, as a bigger threat to humanity than the world's tyrants.
In his 1999 article about the gun control movement, “The Armed Defense of Liberty,” Alan Keyes wrote, “Perhaps more important than the physical disarmament the government is attempting is the moral disarmament that accompanies it. If we accept the view that the American people cannot be trusted with the material objects necessary to defend their liberty, we will surely accept as well the view that the American people cannot be trusted with liberty itself.... By disarming, we will confess to our government that we no longer aspire to sovereignty, and wish our rulers to take up this burden in our stead. We will be signaling with great clarity that we wish to be comfortable slaves -- and slaves, at least, we will soon become."
How fitting that these warnings about moral and physical disarmament come from two men whose family trees are rooted in the bitter soil of state tyranny. Slavery was America's Old World inheritance, and free people bearing arms ended it in the New World. Anyone familiar with the Federalist Papers knows the claim by some progressive academics that the purpose of the Second Amendment was to preserve slavery is nonsense. “The right of the people to keep and bear arms” is constitutional insurance against threats to life and liberty, including from abusive government at all levels.
Acting out pretend battles with friends in the schoolyard is probably better for a kid's social development than playing violent video games alone in the basement. To keep play from being interrupted by pacifist proponents of gun control, they could try keeping their thumbs down. A de-cocked finger gun is indistinguishable from a magic finger wand and equally effective. They can say they're only playing “Harry Potter.” Parents of kids who have been sent to the principal’s office for finger weapon violations, please use the opportunity to inform your educators that you refuse to let them disarm your child’s mind. Today’s playground warriors may be tomorrow’s soldiers and upholders of the law.
Robert Small is a Maryland-based writer whose articles appear regularly in the American Thinker.