- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 25, 2000

Save that old Roy Rogers "Little Buckaroo" six-shooter you played with as a child it might be worth some money … to the Metropolitan Police Department. Not content to waste $350,000 (the money came from asset forfeiture and federal assistance) on buying mostly worthless firearms from people who are almost certainly not the ones doing the killing in the city (what criminal turns in his weapon?), D.C. Police Chief Charles Ramsey now wants to extend the buyback program to toy guns and even video games with violent content. "We're now going to take this to the next step the next one we do is with kids. Let's see if we can send the same message to our young people as we do adults," he enthused.

The idea here, ostensibly, is to steer impressionable youngsters away from toys that might lead them to violent acts and a life of crime. While there is undoubtedly too much violence in much of what passes for the entertainment industry these days, it is also true that American kids have grown up playing "cowboys and injuns," "cops and robbers," and the like for decades and yet acts of extreme juvenile violence such as have become all too frequent today where almost unheard of before the 1980s. Somehow, cutting a check to a child (or his parent) in return for that toy six-shooter or Nintendo game is not likely to make an iota of difference in the course of that particular child's life. If a child has had loving, involved parents and been raised in a safe environment, the odds of that child becoming violent whether he played with toy guns or not are slim to nonexistent. Meanwhile, the unfortunate child who grows up amid chaos, with absent or disinterested (and perhaps even criminal or irresponsible) parents, is not apt to be deterred from anything as a result of a one-time buyback of a toy.

While the chief is at least not going to blow $100 per toy gun or video game (he wants corporate sponsors to step in and offer free fast-food treats and such), the plan is silly. Chief Ramsey should quit worrying about children's toys and quit wasting money on buyback programs that serve mainly to "dispose" of half-broken or ancient firearms that have as much to do with crime rates as a flying pig in July.

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