- The Washington Times - Monday, June 10, 2013

Children at a California elementary school were able to turn in their toy guns for books and raffle tickets on Saturday.

School Principal Charles Hill, who came up with “Strobridge Elementary Safety Day,” said toy guns teach kids to not take real guns seriously, San Jose Mercury News reported.

“Playing with toys guns, saying ‘I’m going to shoot you,’ desensitizes them, so as they get older, it’s easier for them to use a real gun,” Mr. Hill said.

At the event, a Hayward police officer demonstrated bicycle and gun safety. Fingerprinting and photographing of children was also offered, with the information put on CDs for parents to use in a missing child case, Mercury News reported. All children who turned in a toy gun received a book and a chance to win one of four bicycles.

But some gun advocates question the effectiveness of such a program.

“Having a group of children playing cops and robbers or cowboys and Indians is a normal part of growing up,” Yih-Chau Chang, the spokesman for Responsible Citizens of California, told Mercury News. “While the intentions are obviously good on the part of the school administration, this doesn’t really educate children about guns or gun safety. Guns are used in crimes, but they are more often used in defensive ways which prevent violent crime from occurring in the first place.”

• Jessica Chasmar can be reached at jchasmar@washingtontimes.com.

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