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Changing Gun Culture: Toy Gun Buyback Programs Hit the Streets
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Changing Gun Culture: Toy Gun Buyback Programs Hit the Streets

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Children in New York who received what local officials believe to be “dangerous” toy guns for Christmas were encouraged to swap them out in the 3rd annual toy gun buyback program this year. “What’s that for?” you ask. “The purpose is to offer safe alternatives to toy guns. We don’t want the kids playing with guns. Guns are dangerous,” Hempstead Village Trustee LaMont Jackson would respond.

“Saying no to guns is important,” Hempstead Village Mayor Don Ryan said, echoing Jackson’s sentiments. “Even toy guns.”

Village of Hempstead children are invited to turn in their firearms – including water pistols, replica firearms and other imitation weapons – in exchange for sporting goods, educational items and other toys at the Long Island Toy Gun Exchange Program announced earlier this month.

The new toys are being donated by Sean Acosta of Oyster Bay, a former New York City Police Department officer who now helps people grieve their taxes.

“It has to start at a young age,” Acosta says. “If we can get them to say, ‘It’s not cool to carry these toy guns,’ then maybe when they get older, they won’t ever carry a real gun.” Earlier in December he reportedly told children that he wants “to make sure when you grow up, nothing happens to you.”

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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. In 2016, about 100 children traded toy guns for footballs, dolls and games.

Lieutenant Derek Warner with the Hempstead Village Police Department said that parents could be putting their kids’ lives at risk by gifting them toy guns for the holidays.

“Toy guns can be a dangerous item to give your children and it’s something that the police have encountered on the street. The situations can be horrifically negative if there’s a mistaken identification of a weapon.”

Political commentator, talk radio host, and spokesperson for the National Rifle Association, Dana Loesch blasted the move on Twitter.

Twitter users also blasted the program aimed at indoctrinating the young.

If you live in the Village of Hempstead you can exchange a toy gun by calling LaMont Johnson at 516-647-7862.

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Author: USA Really