Yesterday while returning from errands I crossed a nice mum with two kids, all wearing surgical masks, and I moved aside to give them some room. Just walking past, my eyes caught a glimpse of kid hands holding toys, and one of those toys was a tiny, nickel plated revolver. Something clicked in my mind but it instantly declassified it as a toy. I gave it a disapproving back thought, with flashing images of so many real guns, war orphans in Turkey wearing camo and toy rifles, and my own childhood weapon toys. My day went on and it was a busy one.

I woke up this morning and I have had weird dreams including one where I met a bunch of kids, and they were armed, and they were shooting air gun pellets at me, and I began to scholar them on the dangers of aiming even toy weapons at people, when their mums came and drew real guns to chase me away. The dream went on, in dreams’ weird way, but this was the only episode I could remember of it when I woke up.

In my childhood I was taught to play with virtually any kind of toy weapons, guns, pistols, rifles, muskets, swords, daggers, spears, bow and arrows, but no slings, those were for street kids to damage properties. Not only at the time I didn’t give any special thought to it but I remember my parents strongly disapproving televised debates about the appropriateness of toy weapons.

Unexpectedly, after playing with weapons and descending from a long lineage of military ancestors, I grew up a (kinda) pacifist and seldom I thought back at my war gaming past, which would have put a Greatest Generation veteran’s experience to shame. For the usual combination of unconscious choices and whims of a trickster destiny I ended up witnessing use of real weapons (though no swords, bows and arrows: I had grown up into an uncivilized age with inelegant weapons) and the effects of them, and shrapnel, and bombs on human bodies.

I still understand the fascination of weapons which I developed into a technical interest into war hardware, but with the healthy respect of whom knows the difference between real life arms and gun-porn. I respect professional (and, even more, conscripted) soldiers and I pity those grown up men cosplaying imaginary warriors wearing tactical outfits, belts of ammunition and more spare magazines than a walking newsstand.

I don’t know why that flashing image of an innocent kid holding his tiny toy handgun hit me to the point of dreaming it and feeling the need to tell the story. I didn’t give it a second thought, and there are perhaps many good reasons for a mum to buy one to her kid (I guess). Just I woke up and I couldn’t forget that weird dream. Weapons should be a last resort threat to enforce justice and security but they seem instead to be a contagious shortcut to solve insecurity and arguments, like an aggressive teddy bear for grown up adults.

Maybe my dream was a subconscious reflection of this perception, or my childhood battles gave me a precocious PTSD.

Photojournalist and writer, previously based in Turkey, Ankara lover, formerly from Sorrento, Italy.

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