Arlington, VA – Though it may horrify, it should not surprise that some kids ask for guns on Christmas. The Merrifield Garden Center Santa Claus has decided, in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, to flat-out deny any request for guns, real or otherwise, he hears from the hundreds of children he sees each day.
The 82-year-old Merrifield Santa is one of the more famous mall Santas in the US. He has served as Merrifield’s Santa Claus for over 30 years, and according to the AnnandalePatch, hosts press conferences and accepts toy donations that go to the Catholic Diocese of Arlington in addition to his duties of perusing child wish-lists and taking pictures.
The Catholic Herald reports that the Merrifield Santa is also different from many mall Santas because he includes a Christian-friendly message in his personification of St. Nick.
But this year, Merrifield’s Santa is drawing a very visible line in the sand on a political issue that has been boiling over in recent weeks. When he hears requests for water guns, Nerf guns, or even real guns, he is flat-out denying the request, reports The Washington Post.
“You might get a gun from your father or your mother or grandfather, but you won’t get one from me,” he tells kids. “Guns were put on this earth to take the life of a bird, an animal or a person. Guns were designed to make people cry, to make people die. Now, take a candy and a holy card.”
Though the Merrifield Santa’s perspective isn’t popular with some parents, it’s hard to fault a man who regularly interacts with hundreds of charming and innocent children year after year: Children like the 20 cut down and killed in Newtown, Connecticut last week.
That connection is too apparent in the mind of this Santa.
“Those first-graders,” he says, recalling the Sandy Hook shooting, “you just look at them, and you think: ‘How? How could anybody, how could anybody shoot them?’ ”
What do you think? Should more mall Santas follow this one’s example and turn down requests for guns?