The Santa Rosa Police Department gave a brief introduction to SWAT team firearms, and after some local kids handled the unloaded weapons, a few politicians and activists decided the event went too far.
The kids in question were allowed to touch the weapons with SWAT team supervision at a local police event meant to create dialogue with the surrounding community and to teach basic gun safety to the public.
But community organizer Attila Nagy told Fox News he was concerned the kids might be more inclined to use guns in the future as a result of the basic familiarization effort. Nagy was responsible for the photos you see, which councilwoman Marsha Vas Dupre told her local paper “alarmed and devastated” her.
The Santa Rosa police, for their part, stand behind the event and refuse to give in to some of the hysteria surrounding the gun education effort. Santa Rosa Police Capt. Gary Negri told FoxNews.com that:
"The weapons are rendered safe and are unloaded. We ensure the safety of those weapons...education and gun safety is a component of what we do… we teach kids the difference between a real gun and a Toys R' Us gun.”
Nagy has said after the event that there was no safety training involved, and that young children were allowed to handle the firearms without any instruction given (though SWAT supervision was apparently watching them at all times). Nagy's primary complaint seemed to be more how the event was handled than the principle of teaching gun safety.
But Capt. Negri stuck to his guns, so to speak, and still believes the event served a purpose, saying that:
"Gun safety is a part of the discussions we have with the kids. These kids, what do they learn about guns from video games, movies and TV? A lot of the questions we get from kids are way off base... so it's helpful to have some realistic dialogue."
It appears a majority of the folks involved in the the Santa Clara outreach event believe in firearms safety and police outreach, but some questions have remained:
Would you let a young child handle an unloaded weapon even with trained supervision watching?
And at what age should a youngster first be taught proper firearms safety?
Over to you, Blaze readers...