By: Teresa Mull

Prince George, the adorable four-year-old son of Prince William and Kate Middleton, amused himself recently at a charity polo match by playing with a toy gun. The internet subsequently had a meltdown:

“This isn’t okay anymore… My American side here, biased maybe b/c of everyday #gunviolence in USA, but my British side agrees. No child in this day and age should look at any gun as a fun toy. This looks far too real. (And I LOVE Prince George, don’t get me wrong!),” Twitter user Daisy Torme wrote.

One user issued “shame” on Kensington Palace for George’s toy choice. But the most laughably ignorant reaction came from one user who wrote, “Completely tone deaf of Kate… to give Prince George a toy gun. Doesn’t she read the papers in her own country with all the gun deaths? If the Duchess of Sussex had done this, she would be excoriated in the media! Lucky George isn’t black or police would have shot him.”

Gun violence is indeed on the rise in England, but it’s not for the country’s lack of measures to “prevent” gun violence. As GPM reported in April, “The U.K. has some of the most severe laws and restrictions of firearms in Europe…[Yet] violent crime rates are rising in the U.K., including firearms offences. Despite firearms being very difficult to acquire in the U.K, criminals can and do obtain them. Gun-crime saw a twenty percent increase in 2017.”

“Sad to see George playing with a gun when the whole country has a gun/knife crime situation,” wrote another. “Maybe in training for killing wild life in later years. Thought he was a sensitive child. Better if he was seen playing with a toy car or football. Sadly the royals will never change.”

Again, knife violence in the U.K. is on the rise, and gun control, surprise! has not stemmed the violent tide:

“During February and March, the murder rate in London exceeded that of New York City,” GPM reported earlier this year. “And because the U.K. has such tight restrictions on firearm ownership, most of the 50 homicides the city has recorded year-to-date have been stabbings…Firearm ownership laws in the UK are some of the toughest in the world. The government tries to make it as difficult as possible for citizens to obtain gun licenses. If a nation bans firearms or makes the process so rigorous that it’s impossible for citizens to obtain a license, substitutes will be found.”

Not everyone reacting to the photos were horrified by the innocence of a child playing with a toy gun. “Cars (driven by people) kill people too. Should kids stop playing with toy cars also? Should Hot Wheels go out of business?” one user commented. Another user pointed out it’s likely George will eventually serve in the military, and training with a gun now is good practice.

It’s worth noting, of course, that kids need to be taught the fundamental principles of gun safety before they’re allowed anywhere near a firearm. George, even as a four-year-old with an obviously fake gun, should not have been allowed to violate the first rule of gun safety: “Keep the gun’s muzzle pointed in a safe direction at all times; never aim it at anything you do not intend to destroy.”

Children – especially boys – love to make believe they’re Cowboys and Indians, war heroes, cops and robbers, and so forth – characters who would not be what they are without firearms. Making guns taboo, however, as the Brits have done, instills irrational fear into an entire society. And such a mindset, unfortunately, has begun spilling over to the U.S., despite our comparatively unrestricted gun laws. (Remember the seven-year-old boy who was suspended from school for chewing his Pop Tart into the shape of a gun?)

Of course, the very presence of guns – especially toy ones – does not turn innocent children into adult mass shooters, any more than the presence of kitchen knives makes them more likely to grow up and become mass stabbers. The reality is that there are an estimated 300 million guns in American homes, yet, as The Washington Post reported in 2015, “…Fewer Americans are dying as a result of gun violence — a shift that began about two decades ago.”

A profound respect for firearms and their capabilities, combined with an active imagination, can make for a happy, healthy, and fun childhood. Perhaps if more British children were raised with an appreciation for guns, their country would not be so absurdly outraged by a boy being a boy.

Not to mention safer, too.

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Teresa Mull is editor of Gunpowder Magazine. Contact her at

Photo Credit: Shutterstock