Hempstead, New York, children participated in a toy gun buyback program this Christmas because local officials believe that it's important to even take "dangerous" toy guns out of the hands of children.
What are the details?
Officials encouraged children who received toy guns for Christmas to bring the toys into a local park to swap them out for other, clearly less dangerous toys.
Hempstead Village Trustee LaMont Jackson told WABC-TV that Hempstead officials don't want children "playing with guns."
"The purpose is to offer safe alternatives to toy guns," Jackson explained. "We don't want the kids playing with guns. Guns are dangerous."
Hempstead Village Mayor Don Ryan echoed Jackson's sentiments to the station.
"Saying no to guns is important," Ryan stressed. "Even toy guns."
Hempstead Village Police Department Lt. Derek Warner told the station that parents could be putting their kids' lives at risk by gifting them toy guns for the holidays.
Warner added that police officers can often mistake toy weapons for real ones.
"Toy guns can be a dangerous item to give your children," Warner explained.
Sean Acosta, a former New York Police Department officer who purchased the toys, reportedly told children earlier in December that he wants "to make sure when you grow up, nothing happens to you."
The buyback program began in 2015, according to a report in the Washington Times, and was designed to keep toy guns off the streets — specifically because of shootings related to children in the Hempstead area.