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Why Are We Importing Toy Guns?   
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Twice last week while waiting in traffic, I sighted the sale of toy guns that had a perfect replica of real rifles.The whole thing caught me unawares and instantly, I jumped in my driving seat when this young man virtually thrust one of the toy guns in my face, suggesting to me that it was an ideal Christmas gift for my child.

It was day time and so I felt I was safe, despite my anxiety. However, on reflection, if this had happened in traffic at night time or if I had my windows rolled down, I am sure, subconsciously, I would have screamed.

The whole thing reminded me of years ago in traffic at the junction of the Awudome Cemetery Road and heading for the Obetsebi-Lamptey Circle; a decent-looking young man pushed a black plastic bag in my passenger window threatening to throw the stuff on me if I did not give him money.

He quickly opened it and to my horror, there was an awful smell and a disgusting sight of “fresh” faeces.
As I panicked, struggling to reach for my purse which I had placed on the floor, drivers behind me were honking impatiently, obviously unaware of my distress.

It probably seemed to them that I had stopped to buy, unmindful of the vehicles behind me. I managed to reach for whatever was in my purse and quickly threw it down for him and sped off. That awful experience taught me useful lessons never to roll down my windows when in traffic and be sure to lock up from inside and never buy from wayside sellers.

So, last week, because my windows were securely up and my doors safely locked, I felt safe when the young man approached me with his unsolicited wares. I instantly began to do some recollection as to whether toy guns were allowed into the country or not. I was sure in my mind that the importation of toy guns and fireworks were both banned not too long ago.

Assuming there was no ban in place, the question must be asked as to whether we should allow such frivolities as importing toy guns into this country. What benefits are toy guns to children, and would people with ill intentions not take advantage of their resemblance to a real gun to perpetuate their diabolical agenda? To my mind, this particular importation is a waste of foreign resources.

I am yet to see a nursery or kindergarten school or a Montessori where toy guns feature in their collection of learning aids with the tricks of “cops and robbers” on their curriculum.

There is too much violence in our world today. In some of our neighbouring countries where years ago, in their turmoil children were taken forcibly and trained as soldiers to fight and maim their own in the name of war, the world was horrified. To continue to introduce our children to play with things such as toy guns is beyond comprehension. Why do we not invest in giving the young ones something that would develop their creativity rather than something that teaches destruction, misery and pain?

If one thinks about the destructive nature of guns or firearms and the way societies are being torn apart with guns, it is a worry to see that no attention is being focused on curbing the existence of such toys that corrupt the unfettered minds of our children. Thankfully for us in this country, we have not witnessed any of the atrocious behaviours of gunmen storming schools and killing pupils and teachers while traumatising other children.

In some of the school-shooting incidents elsewhere, the gunmen were actually in their youth. How did they learn how to hold a gun and shoot? Of course they live in societies where acquiring firearms is perhaps as easy as acquiring computer games. Giving them toy guns, maybe, is a way of teaching them and preparing them for the kind of society they are going to be faced with. That is how it starts.

We have had cases of armed men attacking their victims with toy guns because of their likeness to actual guns. I believe it was the rampant attacks of such nature at a point in time that necessitated the ban on the importation of toy guns into our country.

Certainly for us and with the benefit of hindsight, we do not need to encourage imports such as toy guns. We need to critically assess the social, moral or economic impact of some of such things we bring into this country, particularly where children are involved. But that apart, one question that perhaps we need to ask in taking some of these decisions is, “Do we have enough foreign exchange to bring in drugs and other medical equipment for our regional and district hospitals?

Therefore, if the ban on the importation of fireworks and toy guns is still in force, then the humble appeal is for someone to be vigilant, especially when importers are flooding the market with Christmas gifts.

If on the other hand, and in the name of free trade, there has been a silent lift of the ban, then one would plead with the authorities concerned to take another look at bringing in toy guns. They are not and can never serve the good of our children in their formative years.
Source: Vicky Wireko / [email protected]

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