Strobridge Elementary Principal Charles Hill has implemented what he considers a key public safety effort: a toy gun buy back program. A child who turns in “their guns” will be given a book and a raffle ticket to win one of four bicycles. I fail to see why such programs are worthy of such effort. Not only will it have no likely impact on the natural tendency of children to play such games, I fail to see the the value of such programs.
For full disclosure, I have previously written columns on the campaign against toy guns (here and here). I fail to see the alarm over such play and, as noted in the prior columns, the obsession of some parents is often based on inaccurate accounts of academic research.
We have made an effort to force manufacturers to clearly mark toy guns to distinguish them from real guns. Tragedies certainly occur where police mistake a toy gun. However, they remain relatively rare given the number of toys and children in this country. We also have mistaken shootings with other objects.
Hill clearly subscribes to the view that playing with toy guns produces violent, criminally inclined children — ignoring the hundreds of millions of adults in his country who were raised on such games and never hurt a soul. Yet, “Playing with toy 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.” That is quite a stretch for any academic in cause and effect.
What do you think?