I’ve been watching my two younger children play a “murder mystery” video game in which a random person from a pool of online players is deemed a murderer, one is selected to be the sheriff, and the rest of the participants are labeled “innocent.” In the game, the innocent characters run around a maze of hallways and secret passageways while the chosen murderer tries to take out the other players with a knife. If the designated sheriff (who has a revolver) can stop the murderer before all the innocent players are eliminated, the game ends with a victory. Or, if the sheriff is taken out by the murderer, another character can then retrieve the one-and-only gun in the game and stop the knife-wielding cartoon avatar. If the latter is the case, the game announces that “a hero has saved the day!”
It’s definitely an odd game of hide and seek. There’s no blood and no injuries. It just looks like a Lego character falling apart if a player dies. And gameplay starts over with everyone respawning and new roles randomly chosen. But it’s also very interesting that only a “hero” with a gun can save the day.
I can’t say that I am a huge fan of this online activity, but then again, I don’t leave parenting up to the television or the Xbox. My husband and I teach our children about kindness and respect … and also about danger and violence. We also spend a lot of time teaching our kids about gun safety and responsible gun ownership and use.
Of course, some companies believe they need to step in and try to parent our kids too. Or, in actuality, they apparently feel that they need to make changes to games, toys and technology to make their anti-gun statements. For instance, in 2016, you may remember that Apple’s smartphone operating system replaced its pistol emoji with a lime green toy squirt gun in order to, as New Yorkers Against Gun Violence stated, express “a symbolic gesture to limit gun accessibility.” (So … they basically replaced one cartoon gun with another cartoon gun, while leaving active and intact the emoji swords, knives, bombs, axes, dynamite, etc.)
Fast forward a few years to 2020, and now Warner Bros. Entertainment has announced a new Looney Tunes animated series that will not have any firearms. And they claim to be doing this “in response to U.S. gun violence.” So, in the newly produced cartoons, well-known characters like Elmer Fudd and Yosemite Sam will have their shotguns and pistols replaced with scythes and grass hooks. It seems that setting traps, blowing up characters with sticks of dynamite, tossing anvils on people’s heads and using other ACME items meant for destruction will still be featured in the series because “cartoony violence,” as the executive producer called it, is OK. Just no more guns … because those are dangerous.
I can honestly (and thankfully) say that I never learned about firearms safety or gun handling from any cartoons. And I am making sure that my kids don’t get their education (or misinformation) from them either. In my opinion, it would be so much more effective if we could just ban ignorance. And even though these anti-gun “statements” using emojis and cartoon characters can’t be taken too seriously, they definitely shine a light on a cancel culture that seems to be more focused on attacking and shaming instead of educating and understanding.
About Beth Alcazar
Author of Women’s Handgun & Self-Defense Fundamentals and associate editor of Concealed Carry Magazine, Beth Alcazar has enjoyed nearly two decades of teaching and working in the firearms industry. She holds degrees in language arts, education and communication management and uses her experience and enthusiasm to share safe and responsible firearms ownership and usage with others. Beth is certified through the NRA as a Training Counselor, Chief Range Safety Officer and Certified Instructor for multiple disciplines. She is also a Certified Instructor through SIG Sauer Academy, ALICE Institute, DRAW School, TWAW and I.C.E. Training and is a USCCA Certified Instructor and Senior Training Counselor.