By Danny Tyree

According to and other sources, Stobridge Elementary School in Hayward, California may be shooting itself in the foot, publicity-wise.

As part of a safety day, the school sponsored a touchy-feely toy gun buyback program, rewarding students with books and bike raffle tickets if they would surrender their evil make-believe weapons.

Principal Charles Hill assures the public that the collected guns will be destroyed and thrown away, but I suspect they will really be used in some well-intentioned scheme. He’ll sell them to gangs at a nearby magnet school and try to track them. Call it Operation Fast and Furious But Still Single File.

Hill warns that letting kids be kids and permitting them to utter phrases such as “I’m going to shoot you” desensitizes children to someday pulling the trigger on an actual firearm. Of course the flip side is that restricting the students to 13 years of wandering through the playground and gym shower singing the Barney the Purple Dinosaur theme song desensitizes their classmates to the notion of wielding an assault rifle.

Hill’s followers wring their hands and worry what sort of lessons we’re teaching by allowing children to play cops and robbers and similar timeless games. Of course the gun buybacks foster a sense of entitlement and train children to go through life demanding, “Give me a book and a bike or I’m going to jam My Little Pony down your windpipe.”

The school misses some genuine teachable moments about gun safety while going for an “out of sight, out of mind” approach. (“Today we will learn about silica by sticking our heads in the sand…”)

No, guns are not toys, but then neither are automobiles. Perhaps next the school will sponsor a toy car buyback program. And by the time the students get to high school, their Driver’s Ed curriculum will consist of being told, “Hand over your Prius and you can have this book: Dr. Seuss’s ‘Oh, The Places You’ll Go—On Foot, You Potential Hit-And-Run Maniac’.”

Hill is rightly concerned about tragic events involving toy guns mistaken for real guns. But bear in mind: “Guns don’t kill people wielding realistic-looking toy guns. People with guns kill IDIOTS wielding realistic-looking toy guns.” Start educating the students.

I wonder if Hill realizes the can of worms he’s opening by promoting his “progressive” ideas. Did the bike manufacturers make good union wages? Do any of the books contain accusatory characters pointing fingers (with an implied “BANG”)? If students start turning a profit on the exchanges, will evil capitalism lead to an uneven distribution of wealth? If the buyback program makes the NRA seethe, will that add to greenhouse gases? What will happen to the self-esteem of disadvantaged students who don’t have a toy gun to exchange? Will they be lopping off fingers or (worse) clear-cutting forests to produce sticks to trade?

Most of us recognize a toy gun buyback as just a feel-good measure that is less than a drop in the ocean towards combating society’s real ills. But supporters of the Stobridge plan insist, “If all our efforts can protect JUST ONE CHILD from a vague, hypothetical brush with violence…that’s one person whom we can indoctrinate, manipulate and regulate for the rest of his or her life!”

Danny welcomes reader e-mail responses at and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades”. Danny’s’ weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate.

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