Suddenly we heard an incoherent sound in this peaceful scenario, a child's voice making the sound of a gun. We turned to our right, and there was a youngster, around 7 or 8, holding a wooden replica of an Uzi, pointing it at us and "pretending" to shoot us. Behind the young boy was a vendor's stand with items we had not noticed previously. One display held a wooden machine gun, another a wooden Uzi, another a wooden assault rifle, another a wooden hand gun. There were obviously other items as we watched a young girl pick up a wooden cork gun, point it at her father and "shoot" him over and over.
Our first reaction was surprise. Having lived in the Bay Area most of our lives, and this being probably our 100th or so festival, we could not remember ever encountering a booth with toy machine guns and AK-47s for kids.
Our second reaction was to be uncomfortable. We didn't like having even a toy gun pointed at us.
As we collected and processed our thoughts, our third response was to be disturbed. Innocent children were being marketed to, real-time, with replicas of lethal weapons. They now had the opportunity to pick them up and do with them what they see, unfortunately, on TV and in video games: point it at someone, someone they love or a stranger, and pretend to injure or kill them.
Why are we marketing assault weapons, even pretend assault weapons, to our children 2 to 10 years old (the counter was very low so even toddlers could reach) in our socially responsible community and home town of Mountain View? Especially with Mountain View and our neighboring communities being embroiled with tragic incidents of guns being taken to schools and children and young people being shot and killed?
We are certainly for the rights of responsible adults to bear arms. But one would also hope that adults would make responsible and socially conscious decisions about what we market to our next generation at Art & Wine Festivals — a place parents take their families for art, entertainment and food.
That thought would also apply to the people and organizations making selections and providing oversight on what is being offered at their event.