I was driving by the remnants of Summit Place mall just the other day, and it reminded me of a birthday I had when I was probably 7 or 8. My aunt took me there to buy whatever I wanted from Toys-R-Us, and naturally I picked out a relatively realistic looking bolt action rifle (since my mom never would have allowed that sort of thing). I loved that gun, because it was the most real-looking gun of all kids I'd play shooting games with. But that was it. It was a toy, and a fun toy, but it ended at pretend. I know your brother pretty well, and it doesn't seem to me that any of those GI Joes gave him any predilection toward violence, either.
That trip down memory lane was pretty important, however, because I was driving with my wife, and full disclosure, she's set to give birth to our son within a few days. I revere my childhood experience of playing guns, and I sincerely believe that it helped to make me more curious about the world. I don't for a second think that toys like that are harmful, and yet I seem to be at odds with society on this one. I'm not criticizing, but genuinely curious as to why parents such as yourself (who played with toy soldiers as a child) think that it's a good thing that your kids don't? Is there any reason to think that playing war leads to violence, and that you and I (and all my cousins and childhood friends I played with who also grew up well adjusted) are exceptions?
My instinct is that we've gone way overboard in regulating toy guns. I literally have no data on this, and I don't know the experience of raising kids yet. My only evidence here is growing up. Very interested for your thoughts on this (and of course any other parents out there, especially those of sons).