Gun buyback programs are nothing but photo opportunities for local police departments. They’re PR campaigns for local governments to show everyone that they’re doing their part to curb gun violence. Any one buyback might yield a couple thousand firearms, but in reality, they do nothing to curb gun violence. It just looks good and feels good to the people involved. How many of the guns turned in were defunct and worth next to nothing? How many were used to commit a crime? How many were stolen?
In the eyes of one pastor in St. Louis, Missouri, one can never do too much to help curb gun violence. Rodney Francis is the pastor at Washington Tabernacle Baptist Church. He’s planning a toy gun buyback for kids. Francis said that they’ve got to teach them young so that they don’t get a distorted view of guns when they get older:
“My wife and I feel that we need to do everything we can to not allow our kids to get exposed to this too early. They’re going to get exposed to it but we can protect them early on so they don’t get a distorted view of what those can do to the human body. We want to engage the culture of violence and one of the strategies that we thought we might be able to use is to educate parents about the danger of allowing kids to continue this access to toy guns and playing with toy guns.”
The pastor and his wife don’t allow violent video games, violent movies or toy guns in their house. That’s fine. What I don’t know is if they have real guns for real self-defense and real protection of their family. Instead of getting kids to turn in their toy guns in order to get those “assault” Nerf guns off the streets, how about teaching the kids at a young age about how to use real guns? Teach them about gun safety. Yes, show them how dangerous a gun can be, but also how important one can be if one’s life is in danger.
Teaching kids at a young age is important. But what will it teach them if they’re being told to turn in their toys? It will teach them that guns are in and of themselves bad. And anything that looks like a gun, a toy, a drawing or even a hand shaped like one are all evil. But that kind of mentality will not help protect anyone from a violent criminal.
Besides, trying to disarm the law-abiding child population in this St. Louis church may only lead to a black market of toy guns. And I’m sure this pastor won’t want these toy guns ending up in the wrong hands.