Really? California School Holds Toy Gun Buyback Exchange!

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The absurd just got even more absurd. An elementary school in Hayward, California is holding a toy gun exchange Saturday, offering students a book and a chance to win a bicycle if they turn in their toy weapons.

From Strobridge Elementary Principal Charles Hill maintains that children who play with toy guns may not take real guns seriously.

“Playing with toys guns, saying ‘I’m going to shoot you,’ desensitizes them, so as they get older, it’s easier for them to use a real gun,” Hill said. (This “logic,” of course, flies in the face of the fact that all of us used-to-be kids who played “Army” and “Cowboys and Indians” growing up did not turn into desensitized gun-worshiping killers.)

At Saturday’s event, called Strobridge Elementary Safety Day, a Hayward police officer will demonstrate bicycle and gun safety, and the Alameda County Fire Department is sending a rig and crew to talk about fire safety. (Sounds okay – so far.)

Fingerprinting and photographing of children will be offered, with the information put on CDs for parents to if needed, in a missing child case. All youngsters attending will be given a ticket to exchange for a book, Hill said. (No problem with it yet.)

Every child who brings a toy gun will get a raffle ticket to win one of four bicycles, Hill said. (Houston, we have a problem. This is not only idiotic; it sends the wrong message to kids.)

Hill said he got the idea for the toy gun exchange from a photographer, Horace Gibson, who takes students’ school pictures and who expressed concern about the spate of shootings of young people by police in Oakland. (So, he naturally assumed that Nerf gun wielding 8-year-olds should be stripped of their weapons.)

Hill said police are rightfully fearful of being shot when they encounter so many armed suspects, and there have been cases nationwide where police mistook a toy gun for a real one (brandished by grade schoolers, I assume?).

A gun rights advocate said that while the intent of the school administration may be good, he doubts that playing with toy guns desensitizes children to real weapons.

 “Having a group of children playing cops and robbers or cowboys and Indians is a normal part of growing up,” said Yih-Chau Chang, spokesman for Responsible Citizens of California, a group whose goal is to educate the public about the facts behind gun rights.

I’m with Chang on this one, although I’m not quite as sure as he is about the school’s objective. While the intentions of the administration may be well and good, a program that implies “guns are bad and dangerous and good people should not possess them” – vs. a program that teaches gun safety and self defense sends an entirely different message to young impressionable kids.

The school is fully aware of this, of course, which is precisely why it is trying to indoctrinate teach children that owning guns is a bad thing and turning them over to the government is a good thing – even for law-abiding citizens; law-abiding citizens who may very well wish they had a gun someday with which to protect themselves and their families.

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