For the third year in a row, the village of Hempstead, Long Island encouraged boys and girls to exchange their toy guns for a different toy at Christmas as a way of "saying no to guns ... even toy guns."
“Saying no to guns is important — even toy guns,” Hempstead Village Mayor Don Ryan told local TV station WABC at the Dec. 13 event.
Village Trustee LaMont Johnson said, “The purpose is to offer a safe alternative to toy guns. We don’t want the kids playing with guns. Guns are dangerous.”
The toy gun exchange program was started by former New York City police officer Sean Acosta. “It has to start at a young age,” said Acosta. “If we can get them to say, ‘It’s not cool to carry these toy guns,’ then maybe when they get older, they won’t ever carry a real gun.”
At this year's exchange, 50 kids were invited to participate -- to bring in a toy gun and exchange it for an alternative toy.
For kids who didn't have toy guns to exchange, the event's organizers provided them with water pistols and nerf blasters to turn in.