Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker has tried everything to curb gun injuries and death in his city, including weapons buy-back programs and exchanges. Yesterday, he hosted the first-ever toy guy exchange. Kids lined up with their plastic water pistols and cap guns, which they handed over for books, remote control cars, Barbies and sports equipment.
Ironically, nearby gunfire interrupted the trade-ins.
A man accidentally shot and injured himself a few blocks away from the event.
Members of an anti-violence group, Stop Shootin’ Music, worked with Newark officials organize the trade-in, which Booker endorsed. Though the popular and nationally known mayor acknowledges evidence does not link toy weapons to violence later on, but he said collecting the play weapons sends a message.
From the Star-Ledger:
“I don’t think it’s going to solve the problem in a direct way … it’s a rallying cry.”
A member of Stop Shootin’ Music said this is a way to get positive toys into kids’ hands.
Of course, anything can be turned into a gun — Legos, a stick, toast. And those toy guns they’re turning in are, like, 99 cents at the corner store. But it sounds like Booker and the others involved in this project understand the limits of this. I like that the kids saw something positive come out of interacting with city officials and at some level, they might pick up that there’s concern for them and their futures.
It’s also decent PR for Booker, the group. But this event also brings attention in a less graphic — less tragic way — to the prevalence of guns and gun violence in cities.
Do you think this is a good idea or a waste of time?
Photo: ganesha via flickr