There are a few parental issues that each family has to decide for themselves. One of these is the issue of shooting and playing guns. Do you ban it altogether? Let them shoot whatever and whoever they want? Buy them guns? Not buy them guns?
In our house, we have gone with a compromise. We don't actively buy them weaponry, but we realize that the reality is they are going to pretend to shoot bad guys with whatever they find anyway (case in point later in this story), so we laid down this ground rule: no shooting real people. You can pretend to shoot only imaginary bad guys. No pointing anything pretending to be a gun at any real live person, only pretend bad guys.
Tonight we went out to dinner, and in the midst of my turkey sandwich, I heard Anna go: "Yeah, Daddy, I shot you!" I looked down to see that her potato chip was in the shape of a gun. (See, they do it anyway!) I said, "Anna, were you pointing that at Daddy?"
"Yes," she said, nodding her head vigorously. (I'll give Anna this, she almost always tells the truth about her escapades.)
"Anna," I said sternly, "We don't shoot real people. We only shoot pretend bad guys. Daddy isn't pretend, and he isn't a bad guy." (Sean was nodding along and echoing the sentiment.)
"But Daddy!" Anna exclaimed, "I'm PRETENDING you're a BAD GUY!"
In terms of semantics, let's face it - she had us there.
And we have now amended the rule to invisible pretend bad guys.