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Frightfully Unfun: Joyless Scolds Target Halloween Costume Weaponry

Friday, October 27, 2017

Frightfully Unfun: Joyless Scolds Target Halloween Costume Weaponry

For Thanksgiving, Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety issues anti-gun talking points intended to be used to berate your family at the dinner table. At Christmas time, gun control Grinches pester children to turn-in their toy guns. As part of the crusade to ensure no holiday is spared their political commentary, this year the anti-gun scolds finally got around to meddling with Halloween.

Earlier this month, Chapel Hill, N.C. busybody parents Amanda Hanig and Jordan Gillis founded Goodies Not Guns, a campaign that encourages parents to forbid the use of toy weaponry in their children’s Halloween costumes. The group has a Facebook page and Twitter account where supporters are encouraged to share photos of weapons-free costumes.

While unlikely the couple’s intention, Goodies Not Guns is a fitting name for their project, as Hanig and Gillis do come across as uptight goody-goodies. With their earnest appeal to the nation’s parents, the pair seem like the kind of killjoys who delighted in reminding the teacher that she had forgotten to assign homework.

In a testament to Hanig and Gillis’s skill in self-promotion, the campaign has garnered attention from North Carolina television stations WRAL and WFMY, and was the subject of an ABC News article. The anti-gun effort has also received a twitter follow from the Giffords (formerly Americans for Responsible Solutions), and the blessing of the Brady Campaign; who, on Oct. 20, tweeted out, “Shout out to local gun violence prevention advocates for working to promote safety in their communities. #GoodiesNotGuns.”

Despite relishing this support from the institutional gun control lobby, Gillis assured WFMY that Goodies Not Guns “is not about guns and gun ownership.” However, his wife has been more forthright about the group’s goals.

During the same interview, Hanig told the media outlet, “Beyond Halloween one of our missions is to sort of reevaluate how guns are viewed within society.” In an interview with WRAL, Hanig made clear, “Goodies Not Guns was sort of created as a way that we as parents – and as humans – can take back a little bit of the power of what’s happening in our communities with the pervasiveness of guns.”

Goodies Not Guns’ rules are stringent. Even carrying toy arms while portraying our nation’s heroes and public servants is off limits. Gillis told WFMY, “[I]f they wanna be an army man or a police officer, and that’s someone they look up to… Great! That’s awesome! You can be a police officer without a weapon.” 

Further, the overbearing couple aren’t content to abolish merely realistic-looking toy guns. The Goodies Not Guns Twitter feed has griped about Star Wars costumes that feature bright orange and white laser blasters. Toy blades are out too, as another tweet objected to a ninja costume complete with sword.

As additional justification for the campaign, Hanig told WRAL, “maybe it’s a good idea to not have Halloween costumes that promote violence, because violence promotes violence promotes violence, and if we want a more peaceful world for our kids, we should start now.” As NRA-ILA has previously pointed out, such assertions about toy guns are unwarranted.

Addressing this issue with WebMD.com, clinical psychologist and best-selling author Michael G. Thompson, Ph.D. noted that “There's no scientific evidence suggesting that playing war games in childhood leads to real-life aggression.” In a chapter written for the Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development, Jennifer L. Hart, MEd and Michelle T. Tannock, Ph.D. of the University of Nevada Las Vegas shared a similar sentiment. The researchers stated, “If playful aggression is supported, it is highly beneficial to child development,” and that, “The act of pretending to be aggressive is not equivalent to being aggressive.” In a portion of the chapter explaining the policy implications of their research, the pair noted, “Educators who hold a foundation of understanding will be better able to communicate the importance of not only allowing playful aggression but also supporting it with the inclusion of war toys in early childhood programs.” Moreover, upon surveying the evidence on this subject, a wide range of commentators, including some who have no affinity for firearms, have come to a similar conclusion.

Hanig and Gillis’s campaign has received significant attention from the gun control community, but their project is in line with a broader effort to politicize Halloween. There was a time not too long ago when it was generally understood that All Hallows’ Eve granted Americans reasonable license to be just a little bit scandalous, offensive, or shocking. However, the most infantile portions of the radical left have increasingly turned the holiday into a battleground in the culture wars. Goodies Not Guns is just another front in this lamentable effort to remove all semblance of fun and fantasy from the holiday.

This latest attempt to hijack a holiday raises an important question: when will the anti-gun zealots finally get around to pulling Easter into the political morass? The way the all-consuming culture war is heading, it’s probably only a matter of time until PETA comes out against the gifting of chocolate rabbits as offensive and in need of prohibition.

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.