Your view: Guns don’t belong in Alexandria parades

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By Eric Meade, Alexandria (Photo/Laura Sikes)

To the editor,

Following the Newtown shooting on December 14 2012, I and many other parents across the country have spoken to our young children about guns. We told them that if they ever found themselves around a gun, they should get out of there and tell an adult. A couple of months later, my family and I were watching the 2013 President’s Day parade in Old Town when my 5-year-old daughter Charlotte turned to me with a deeply concerned face and said, “Daddy, they have guns!”

It was the Alexandria Fire Department marching by with rifles on their shoulders, since — I guess — firefighters carry guns? Realizing I was undermining everything I had told my daughter about guns during the previous two months, I told her that in this case it was OK since they were the firefighters.

Similarly, at this weekend’s St. Patrick’s Day parade, a group dressed as Star Wars characters marched by carrying weapons that closely resembled real-life assault rifles. In fact, the rifles were actually aimed at spectators as they marched by. This time, I had to convey to my 3-year-old son that while guns in general are dangerous, there’s nothing wrong with people pointing an assault rifle at you while they walk through Old Town. What?

Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we put parents in the position of having to tell their kids that guns are dangerous, except that sometimes they’re not? Could we please just set a standard of not having guns in our parades?

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21 COMMENTS

  1. Not sure if this is a serious letter….

    Surely you won’t rob your children of the pleasure of the first time seeing Star Wars…??

    Perhaps your kids can make up their own minds about guns without the fearmongering…

  2. Will the police officers be allowed to carry guns? Members of the military? I’m sure your child will understood that she shouldn’t do certain things that adults do. Or do you not drink in your house either, or stay up past her bedtime?

  3. A parade is ready just a pseudo martial display. Even high school marching bands have uniforms and flags, and in my day, we had twirling of decoy rifles. Might as well just call for a ban on parades. Then we’ll be left with people riding in old cars, and the endless stream of Alexandrians and their precious dogs and children in various states of costume.

  4. I am now stupider for having read this letter. The band master carries a baton, which can be used to strike people. Perhaps that should be banned. In fact, playing music could be considered non-inclusive to those who are deaf and cannot enjoy it. Banned. Dogs are marched along the parade route, which could be considered mean to exert such owner force on defenseless animals. Banned. The various Irish, Bolivian and other dancers often feature females in reduced clothing, which could be considered demeaning to women. Banned. The candy that is thrown to children contains sugar and could rot their teeth and contribute to obesity. Banned. The vehicles that drive in the parades pollute the environment and add greenhouse gasses to climate change. Banned. St. Patrick is a religious figure and could be seen as devisive and a city endorsement of Catholicism. Banned. Celebrating a particular heritage (i.e. Irish) on St. Patrick’s day is a blow to inclusiveness and diversity. Banned. Did I miss anything? Oh yeah… fun. Banned.

  5. Men using real guns just like those won Eric the ability to have his person opinion published in a newspaper. Hopefully he will crack a history book one day and find out that freedom isn’t free and appreciate the lives cut short to give us our freedom from tyranny.

    Villainizing a piece of metal is just silly, anyway. Teaching your children to FEAR something, instead of respecting it, is doing a disservice to the child.

  6. Eric never heard of the 2nd Amendment. Eric feels the need to use Sandy Hook as a way to demonize guns. Not the murderer, but the gun specifically. Granted the police with guns are the usual defense to mass shootings.

    I really hope Eric doesn’t shelter his children like everyone above is obviously assuming, myself included. I really hope Eric responds to the numerous folks calling him out. Please Eric, either concede or defend yourself.

  7. Eric you should just put your kids in a bubble forever. Then they will never have to see real life, just kids cartoons. It’s a parade man, a parade featuring military and police. These folks need guns and protect society and freedom. You should teach your kids that they are heroes instead of focusing on scary guns. Your kids are so young they aren’t sure how to feel about guns which is the only reason they are scared. Cars kill more people…. hope you write your next letter banning cars in the parade.

    Eric, either you are dumb or just had a bad letter posted. Please explain.

  8. Guns are inherently dangerous and children need to be made aware of the lethality of these weapons. What the writer failed to do appropriately is explain the difference between reality/fantasy and time honored traditions to his child. Star Wars characters use weapons. Honor guards carry rifles. Instead of trying to force your beliefs on society, perform a better job of teaching your children.

  9. “If a madman wants to kill innocent people he/she will find a way. Killers don’t need guns to kill people. Timothy McVeigh used fertilizer. 9-11 terrorists used box cutters and planes. The Nazis used cynanide gas.” Teaching that guns are the problem doesn’t empower or protect our children. Teaching them to be suspicious of any person or government who prefers they not know how to operate a weapon is what our founding fathers explicitly asked us to do. May we carefully explore how we can truly protect and empower our children and preserve freedom.

  10. “We told them that if they ever found themselves around a gun, they should get out of there and tell an adult.”
    Absolutely correct
    “I told her that in this case it was OK since they were the firefighters”
    1/2 correct. They are uniformend civil servants in a ceremony carrying rifles. Nothing to fear.
    “a group dressed as Star Wars characters marched by carrying weapons that closely resembled real-life assault rifles.”
    Or, as they are otherwise known, “props”.
    “This time, I had to convey to my 3-year-old son that while guns in general are dangerous, there’s nothing wrong with people pointing an assault rifle at you while they walk through Old Town.”
    Or, since these “props” are such a cause for alarm, why not just leave? Get away from these non weapons. Remove your family from the make believe danger.
    “Why do we put parents in the position of having to tell their kids that guns are dangerous, except that sometimes they’re not? ”
    Why do we have parents who cannot communicate to their children that the gun is not dangerous, it is the crminal intent of the person using a gun that is dangerous.
    Guns in the hands of Law enforcement, civil servants, and law abiding citizens pose very, very, little danger, a minscule amount of danger to anyone.
    But you live in the State of Northern Virginia (All areas south of the Rappahanock River), so the idea that an inanimate *thing* is dangerous makes perfect sense to you and must be feared.

  11. This is what happens when you have people who are unable to think for themselves. They rely on the use of propaganda from the government, political and special interest groups to make their decisions for them.

  12. Instead of demonizing guns, might it be a better strategy to explain to your children their place in American history? That we wouldn’t even have our cute little country if it weren’t for men with their muskets, and that the Revolutionary War was ultimately triggered when the British tried to seize the arms of the colonists? Or how about their more positive role in our daily life, used to defend our borders in the hands of our military, keep our streets safe in the hands of both police and law abiding citizens, and ready at a moment’s notice against a home invader in the hands of responsible citizens? Because there are no bad guns, only bad people.

  13. Guns — real guns — ARE dangerous Mr. Meade. You are right to warn your children that they need to show care and respect when in the presence of these weapons. Cars are dangerous too – we could say they are far more dangerous than guns given the much greater prevalence of injuries and death which occur as a direct result of their use in our day-to-day lives. But we train our children how to act in a safe manner around cars – use seat belts; do not walk behind cars that are backing up; do not drive in a dangerous manner; do not play on the freeway. These are just a few of the ways we habituate our children to these incredibly dangerous but useful machines. I suspect your children are not confused about cars.

    It is important that you take the same approach to teaching your children about firearms. This means you should take time to explain to them the proper precautions and operation of a firearm, even take them to the range so they can learn to use the device properly for themselves. Only with this level of understanding will they be able to truly appreciate the value of our liberties and the real value of the items on parade.