California School Trades Books for Toy Guns
Guns, guns, guns. Everyone seems a bit obsessed with firearms at the moment. Okay, in the aftermath of certain events in the not-so-distant past, it’s probably understandable — and hardly surprising. During Strobridge Elementary “Safety Day”, in Hayward, California, last weekend, one of the events was a toy gun for books exchange — turn in a toy weapon, get a book and a chance to win a bicycle. The trade was the brainchild of the Principal, Charles Hill, who
…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.
Apparently Hill got the idea from Horace Gibson, a photographer who takes students' school pictures, after Gibson “expressed concern about the spate of shootings of young people by police in Oakland.” Hill thinks toy guns are far too realistic sometimes, too.
"Some of the guns I've confiscated, if they're stuck down in a waistband, the average person would think it's a real gun," Hill said. "I could easily see one of our sixth-graders wanting to fake out someone at a 7-Eleven by walking in there" with a toy gun. "They would think it's funny, but it could turn into tragedy… If we want older kids to not think guns are cool, we need to start early," he said.
The day also included a demonstration of bicycle and gun safety by a local police officer and a talk by the Alameda County Fire Department about fire safety as well as child photographing and fingerprinting for use in a “missing child case”.
It sounds like a good idea and yes, we probably need to do more to ensure kids don’t think every gun is a toy — too many recent headlines include small children killing friends or family with a gun they didn’t necessarily know was the real thing. Will it make a difference? With a problem that is more obviously a societal issue than an issue of access to guns, anything that improves the way firearms are viewed in our society is a good thing in my opinion.
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