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Being adamantly opposed to using any kind of "weapons" as toys, and this includes water guns, I give my kids plastic squirt bottles, either clean spray bottles of water or even cleaned out plastic ketchup or syrup bottles to squirt each other with.
When my son was growing up I didn't allow guns at my house either, I grew up learning how to shoot a BB gun and my father had guns. But we lived rural and the BB guns were for scaring away wildlife etc. But I tell the kids I work with at school when they make gun sounds, guns are for 2 reasons.
To hunt your food to feed your family.
To protect your country, the public etc. from bad guys (meaning you have to be a cop/military).
When I hear gun noises or guns made out of things, I ask the kids "is it hunting season? What are we having for dinner that you are going to shoot?" they think it's funny but they also get it, guns are not for playing.
I have squirt bottles that I play "squirt tag" and sprinklers with the kids. I know there were a lot of kids my age (40) that played with guns (but like I said, we were rural, it was 2nd nature to have them around), but that was also when it was safe to play outside till dark, by yourself, with no parents; there weren't drive by turf war shootings. The internet wasn't there to open up a Pandora's box of things that a "demented" brain might think about (but now because of the internet can put pictures, videos or new ideas to those sick things).
Guns are now more prevalent, easy to come by and the toy ones get kids/adults shot because they look so real! Tell a kid, if you want to play with guns, in the few short years that you are a kid, you play with trucks/dolls, then when you are an adult, join the military, hunt a deer for the freezer, etc.
Guns weren't made for play, they were made to protect and hunt.
My daughter-in-law told me about this one. My family is adamantly against guns and we didn't even feel comfortable letting the kids have squirt guns! So she decided to buy those cheap squirt bottles like you find at the drugstore and Walmart and let her kids use those for squirting water. They love it and it doesn't compromise our values!
Here's another idea that's really fun for kids (of all ages, LOL). Insert a string through the top of the squirt bottle. Tie a knot at each end so it won't come out. Thread the string down into the bottle. Then when you SQUEEZE, the string comes flying out, but only as far as the knot at the end. This is an especially fun "prank" if you have a yellow mustard bottle, red ketchup bottle, white or green dish liquid bottle, put the same colored string in there. Kids (of all ages) can pretend they're squirting people with ketchup, mustard or soap.