We all know gun control advocates, however they portray themselves these days, really just want to ban guns. In places where they've been fairly successful at that, like New York and New Jersey, some gun grabbers are hoping to implement the next phase of their evil scheme: banning the mere idea of a gun.
We've seen this sinister impulse manifest itself in many ways, most of them directed at harmless school children. Thus, students as young as four or five are punished for their toys, for their attire, for their drawings, for their writing, for their gestures, even for how they chew their food, if in the fevered mind of a gun-hating adult the behavior is considered suggestive of firearms. Yet perhaps the most un-American expression of this oppressive trend is the desire some gun control advocates have to ban books that inspire a child's natural imagination and creativity.
If critical thinking and the legitimacy of school discipline have been collateral casualties of public education's War on Gun Culture, healthy childhood fascination with engineering, design, and construction could also be threatened by the gun-ban agenda. We've seen this before, notably with the hyperventilating over then 17-year-old Jack Streat's impressive tome, LEGO Heavy Weapons, a guide to building functional toy guns out of LEGOs. Now another book is coming under fire, Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction 2: Build a Secret Agent Arsenal (MWMD 2). Focused on inspiring kids to build and improvise, it offers step-by-step plans for fabricating fictional mock-ups of 30 different "tools of the spy trade," including a rubber band derringer, a cotton swab .38, and (for the big bore enthusiasts) a .44 marker magnum.
According to an article on the New Jersey Journal website, the trouble apparently started when Michael Alcamo came across MWMD 2 during a visit to the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, N.J. A resident of Manhattan and avowed gun control advocate, he reacted as might be expected: by freaking out and running to the media. Ironically, given its own reliance on the First Amendment, the Journal accommodated Alcamo with the accusatory headline: "Liberty Science Center defends book teaching kids how to make fake guns." The article quotes Alcamo as insisting that the guns in the books – which are made out of things like clothes pin, rubber bands, Tic-Tac containers, and Scotch tape dispensers – are "realistic-looking" and "a way to guarantee tragedy."
To its credit, the Liberty Science Center appeared at first to live up to its name by taking a more a freedom-oriented, rational approach. Museum spokesperson Mary Meluso told the Journal that the book is "innocuous" and "totally consistent" with the mission of science centers across the globe. Meluso continued, "If a parent doesn't want her child to build a periscope from a toothpaste box or a tongue-depressor catapult that launches mini-marshmallows or a so-called Candy Glock from a balloon, a playing card, and a plastic soda bottle, he doesn't have to buy the book."
MWMD 2 is the second of five Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction books by award-winning toy designer John Austin. Gizmodo.com lauded the book as "the Holy Grail: a beautifully illustrated guide for making all manner of miniature munitions, from slingshots and catapults to mines and bazookas, with supplies that can be found in any household, office, or classroom." The book also enjoys a robust following on Amazon.com, where after dozens of reviews it is rated 4.7 out of 5 stars. Readers praise it for its use of common, inexpensive materials; its promotion of creativity; its emphasis on safety; and the fun and satisfaction it provides to kids, while also providing educational value. A fourth grade teacher from Baton Rouge, La., even noted in her review that she had used it for class science and social studies projects.
The effect of Alcamo's jihad against MWMD 2 is not clear. The link that formally led to it on Liberty Science Center's online gift shop is now inactive. We'd hate to think that a book-banning radical succeeded in intimidating what should be a bastion of progress and rationality. In any event, we can thank Alcamo's crusade for bringing this fun and educational series of books to the attention of a broader audience. His example also serves as a cautionary reminder that politically-motivated control freaks are just as willing to go after your First Amendment rights as your Second Amendment rights.