Local columnist Petula Dvorak has had an epiphany or sorts having to do with children playing with guns - not the real ones, mind you, but the toy ones, even imaginary ones that figure significantly in kids' games of cowboys/Indians, cops/robbers, and soldiers.
Ms. D. has learned that such games may be important to the psychological development of kids, especially boys; that "competitions" in which everybody is a winner so no one's feeling get hurt are damaging to everyone; and most important, that there isn't any correlation between playing with guns as a child, and becoming a berserk murdered as an adult.
That's a fine lesson for Ms. D., -- one that all of us over 40 or so, who weren't brought up in quite so feminized a society, could have provided her. And though she apparently still resists letting her offspring learn to use an air rifle, I do hope that a lot of her readers, and the legions of mistakenly overprotective parents in the world today, may learn the lesson that games involving toy guns don't turn every kid who plays them into real-life killers.
I suspect, in fact, that it's the opposite: Parents who don't allow their kids to play such games unwittingly warp their little psyches, possibly increasing the chances that they'll turn out to be the next mass killer. It would be interesting to do a study on that.