Toy guns has been an issue with me since Colin's birth. I grew up in a family of all girls - hence we never had any toy guns, or toy swords, or any toy that mimicked violent actions. James grew up in a family of all boys, so toy guns were an extension of their hands.
My natural tendency is to not allow these types of playthings in our house. I would hope my boys would understand the difference between fantasy and reality, and confusion between the two is not why I don't want toy guns in my home. I just don't personally like the idea of shooting another person for fun.
As I talk with friends who have older children (mostly boys), I realize that there is something hardwired in boys to play with guns. One friend spoke of how she didn't allow any toy weaponry in her home, and then one day her son bit his peanut butter and jam sandwich into the shape of a gun and "shot" his brother across the kitchen table. Other friends have stories about how even if there aren't guns, they will pick up tree branches, hockey sticks, recorders or pretty much anything at their fingertips and use it as a gun.
Some friends laughed at the notion of trying to keep toy guns out the of house; other friends claimed they are still holding fast to their rules and doing what they can. In the whirlwind of conversation, I find myself agreeing with both points of view and seeming to lose my own standing as I'm tossed back and forth in the debate.
Most boys have natural aggression pent up in their little bodies, and need a way to release it. And certainly all references to violence don't automatically translate into hurting another human being. That being said, as a parent I know I have the right and responsibility to guide my children the best I can.
And so my current stance (and somewhat of a compromise with James) stands as: no toy guns, but those Super Soaker Blaster waterguns might find their way into the backyard toy bin.