According to the great British comedian Eddie Izzard, California has always been the “wild and crazy state.” But in a good way. And now a San Francisco Bay area elementary school is charting new waters by offering the first ever toy gun “buyback” program.
Charles Hill, the principle of Strobridge Elementary School in Hayward, feels kids that play with guns may not take real guns seriously. He went on to say, “Playing with toy 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.”
The idea for the buyback came from a photographer, Horace Gibson, who takes the school’s student photos. Hill also called upon the nationwide cases where police have mistaken a toy gun for a real one, as manufacturers aim for realism.
The school planned a whole day of activities around the buyback called Strobridge Elementary Safety Day. Hayward police were on hand to demonstrate bicycle and gun safety while the Alameda County Fire Department sent a truck and crew to talk about fire safety. The event also offered fingerprinting and photographing of children, where they loaded the information on to a CD for the parents in case their child goes missing.
Every child who attended was given a ticket to exchange for a book. And if they turned in a toy gun, they also received a raffle ticket that could win them one of four bicycles.
When I first heard about this event, I thought it was a little silly. But after giving it some thought and getting as much information as I could about the event, I stand up and applaud Hill and Strobridge Elementary. I hope other schools can take the hint and hold their own Safety Day events.
However, not everyone stood behind the buyback. Yih-Chau Chang, a spokesman for the gun-rights group Responsible Citizens of California said that “playing cops and robbers or cowboys and Indians” was “a normal part of growing up.”
“While the intentions are obviously good on the part of the school administration, this doesn’t really educate children about guns or gun safety,” he said. “Guns are used in crimes, but they are more often used in defensive ways which prevent violent crime from occurring in the first place.”
Chang also questioned whether toys can look like real weapons saying, “Toy manufacturers are forced to paint guns in bright colors, usually orange or yellow, that make it virtually impossible for an officer to mistake it for a real gun.”
But what about the upsurge of colored real guns? Friday night – the night before the buyback event – a 3-year-old boy in South Carolina was killed after he picked up a pink gun he thought was a toy and it discharged. And have you seen the Hello Kitty AK-47? (Picture provided) It looks like a toy and the Hello Kitty just screams for little girls to pick it up. Globalgrind has even compiled a list of 12 guns that look like toys, including one that has bullets painted to match.
Everyone who has read my very first post on All Things Dem about gun control and the Second Amendment knows how I feel on this issue. But I am still astounded by the stupidity of people – especially the ones with frou-frous colored guns who leave said guns loaded and lying around. Not only are you too stupid to own a gun but you are way too stupid to be breeding. And as another great British comedian Jimmy Carr says, “Let’s face it, the gene pool needs a little chlorine. You know who you are!”