My stepfather had a collection of guns, in which he took great pride. Every time I brought a new boyfriend home, he would invite the fellow into his “shop.” Here he stored his collection, cleaned them, admired them, loaded his own shells and studied his NRA and American Rifleman magazines. I never pursued an interest in ballistics, but growing up in Oklahoma, I assumed it was normal for men to have this affinity with guns, to hunt rabbits in the fields or go once a year to a fancy game lodge somewhere in Wyoming or one of the Dakotas to hunt elk or deer.

As a student in college in the 60’s, I gradually changed my point of view. I became a vegetarian, protested against the war in Viet Nam, and finally, as a senior, decided I was a pacifist. I kept this belief in pacifism to myself, finding it difficult to admit it in conversation with others. The questions were impossible to answer, (“If your loved ones would be killed unless you …). To mention it was to label myself as radical and eccentric, and it instantly raised barriers to conversation or connection. So I didn’t.

When my boys were born, however, I quietly set out to raise them as pacifists. I never bought them a gun, nor any toy that would encourage them to “play” at killing, not even a water pistol. I banned violent TV programming, and finally TV entirely, and monitored their movie viewing until they were sixteen.

Since I never forbade them to make or find or even receive gifts I didn’t care for, they didn’t feel deprived. They soon discovered that a gun could be made out of anything – even a stick or a pile of Legos. Then they pointed them at one another, making the classic “Khuh, Khuh,” sound, from the age of three. When I said, “What is that, honey?” they would look at the stick or Lego-form quizzically and admit that they didn’t know exactly what it was, but it sure was fun.

I sent them to Quaker schools, and although I still didn’t mention my pacifism, I was pleased to see that they were studying “peaceful resolution of conflict.” I quietly refused to buy video game systems, but they saved their allowance to rent them and practiced until they could enter contests to win their own.

Today, all my boys are video game experts and action movie fans. Two have created video games as recruitment tools for the military. They know all about guns, but they are neither violent nor dangerous.

And me? I am a Pacifist with a capital P. I will tell anyone who asks, and lots of people who don’t. I seem to have grown into my beliefs while raising my children. Now they are growing into their own.


  • I’m not sure I like useless spam comments. Disgusting, people. Come up with something creative.
    I’ve been trying to setup a blog just like yours, can you tell me how you managed it?
    No more hate, no more love. Just be, and everything will make sense. (not)
    I just read another article about this topic, and yours seems to be a lot more to the point. However, their article appears on #1 spot, and your is on the bottom. Why?
    I’m not sure I agree with you on some key points. Do you allow guest blog posts? I’d love to write on this topic.

    Hardware (n): The part of the computer that can be kicked.

  • kambrogi says:

    Thanks for your comments, Mara. I am not sure what spam comments you are referring to. Perhaps comments on other posts on my website?

    You wrote, “their article appears on #1 spot, and your is on the bottom …” I can’t remember how I chose the order of my memoir pieces, but it may have been chronological. This one is in the middle — or perhaps you were referring to something else? These pieces were written over time, and posted all at once when I set up my site. The actual blog part of my website can be found by hitting the “Journal” tab above. Alas, it languishes.

    I set up my website after a lot of research. I read books, polled friends who had blogs, studied blogs and other sites I liked, sketched it out and tried practice sites, and finally got some help from my sons to pull it all together. It is still a work in progress. As they say in West Africa, “Softly, softly, catch monkey.” You might want to start with Google’s Blogger. Free and easy.

    There are no guest posts on my blog, however you can write quite a bit in a comment (this being a case in point). Feel free to do so. Thoughtful discussion is always welcome. Kathi

  • This is a interesting article by the way. I am going to go ahead and bookmark this article for my sister to check out later on tomorrow. Keep up the fine work.

  • Diane Scinto says:

    Well, kathi, I have finally located your blog and love it. My grandsons know that this Nana won’t buy them toy guns. So, when they visit, they go to my drawer with computer paper, go into their grandfather’s office, take the scotch tape off of his desk, and create the most sophisticated weapons in town….” Sigh!”

  • Gia says:

    Having guns in the home is only inviting trouble. I think the key to eliminating gun violence is to rid of guns altogether. Nurturing kids is most important, get them studying with a great study table and learning good habits, not violence.

  • kambrogi says:

    I agree with you, Gia. Statistics show that gun violence only ends when people give up their guns. During my childhood, a lot of people where I lived were hunters, and that kind of connection with nature was considered natural, even symbiotic. Those days are largely over and that world is fast fading away. The arguments for the private ownership of guns — any kind of guns — get thinner and thinner.

  • brian ofsie says:

    Hi there! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any trouble with hackers?
    My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing many months of hard work due to no back
    up. Do you have any solutions to stop hackers?

  • kambrogi says:

    Hi, Brian. No, I have never had trouble with hackers. You should contact wordpress and see what they say about how to protect against that. It sounds dire … and now I’ll worry about it, too!

  • tiger says:

    Dear Kathleen,

    Since a very young age my step-father always had an arsenal of firearms and built his own shotgun shells,as a child it was kinda cool but i always wonder what the deep phsycological reason as to why plus he dresses in military camouflage makes his own holsters does martial arts and drinks.i agree 101% that those in authority like Armed response Units or countrys were firearms have to be carried and of course military and certain forms of High ranking security ONLY should carry weapons.Your story is similair to mine except i grew up in England were there are NO firearms on plice except for Airport security.I would very much like to chat with you if possible….godbless

  • kambrogi says:

    Thanks for your message. I feel that the gun culture has both a dark and a less-dark side. I think that carrying arms is for some an opportunity to be violent and abusive, to act out a video-game fantasy, or to imagine oneself as bigger and more powerful than one otherwise might be. Perhaps this was part of the appeal for your stepfather. There is another profile, though. There are those who love to be outdoors, to hunt for food, and who enjoy the sport of target practice. Just as there are probably two kinds of people who become police officers — those who wish to protect the citizenry, and those who want to push people around. Alas, I think the “good guys with guns” are increasingly in the minority in our nation, and even some of those end up killing people by accident. Today, I believe that guns wielded by bad or stupid people are too dangerous to the rest of us for the nation’s laws to support their hobby. England shows us that people may be just as attracted to guns wherever they live, but that the difficulty in owning them means a lot fewer people die by gunfire per capita than in our nation.

  • My parents raised me without any guns or in an atmosphere where guns were normal. But as a sport I started loving guns so it raising your kids to be pacifists is not a sure way that they will be anti-gun when they grow up.


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