A Buffalo, New York, community has launched a gun exchange program for children to turn in their toy guns.
Why is this happening?
WIVB-TV in a report published Friday revealed that the annual exchange was conceived to reduce gun violence by deterring children from playing with toy guns at a young age.
"What we don’t want to do is make a child feel comfortable with a toy gun," Leonard Lane, president of Buffalo's F.A.T.H.E.R.S. organization, told WIVB about the program, which exchanges toy guns for other toys.
Lane says that toy guns in the possession of children present a serious concern for the future of the children as well as that of the community.
According to Lane, "Whatever you put in a child’s hands that’s what he feels comfortable with, and you put a toy gun in his hands at an early age and when he gets older he’s going to want the real thing."
This is precisely why he and the rest of the Buffalo organization are encouraging children to give up toy guns and exchange them for different, more educational and productive toys.
Lane and others within the F.A.T.H.E.R.S. group believe that exchanging toy guns for other toys will help curb gun violence within the community.
Buffalo Police Captain Steve Nichols, who was also interviewed by WIVB, said, "Little kids like to play cops and robbers but you know in the environment we live in, there’s so much violence in this world that there’s so many other options for kids to have fun."
Nichols noted that some toy guns are very realistic in design, and children will sometimes use those toy guns to commit crimes.
"Even with toy guns they reach an age where they start taking off the orange tip and they start pretending that they’re real guns and try and use them in robberies or other things and really all that’s going to do is get them hurt," Nichols said.