Strobridge Elementary School in Hayward, Calif., held a toy-gun exchange program over the weekend, according to a report from CBS-5 San Francisco.
Inspired by gun buy-back programs that focus on getting weapons off the streets, Principal Charles Hill felt a similar program for toys made a lot of sense.
"Playing with toys guns, saying 'I'm going to shoot you,' desensitizes them," said Hill, "so, as they get older, it's easier for them to use a real gun."
Students who participated were given books in exchange for their toy guns. They were also enrolled in a raffle to win a bike, the event's grand prize.
CBS-5 spoke with parents who had brought their children to trade in their guns. One mother said she was always against toy guns, but she noted that her son felt left out when he saw the other kids playing with theirs.
Some of the guns shown in the CBS-5 report were clearly fake, but others that were exchanged might easily have passed for real weapons.
Police Officer Braydon Wilson, who was at the toy-gun exchange to talk to students about safety, told CBS-5 that sometimes kids will paint their toy guns to look like real ones. Other times, owners of real guns will paint the tip of the gun barrel orange to make it appear like a toy, according to Wilson.
The Daily Review spoke with Yih-Chau Chang, spokesperson for Responsible Citizens of California, a group that educates people about gun rights.
"Having a group of children playing cops and robbers or cowboys and Indians is a normal part of growing up," Chang said to the Daily Review.
"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 continued. "Guns are used in crimes, but they are more often used in defensive ways, which prevent violent crime from occurring in the first place."
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