Call it the toy gun buyback program.
It's already under way in the City of Buffalo. A program initiated by the FATHERS grass-roots community and anti-violence organization has swapped basketballs and footballs, books and board games for the toy guns of the city's youth.
Leonard Lane, president of FATHERS, says taking toy guns away from children is the first step to minimizing the exposure young boys and girls have to "a culture of guns."
"It's part of our 'guns are not toys campaign,' " Lane said.
"One of the things we've found out is that kids are becoming more and more comfortable with guns," he said. "If we take toy guns off the street we feel we can have a positive effect on taking real guns off the street."
Lane said more than 100 toy guns already have been turned in to the FATHERS group by concerned parents. The guns turned in range from water pistols to soft-pellet guns that look real, Lane said.
The organization plans to team up with city business leaders to host an event next month that will allow kids to turn in their toy guns for an alternative toy. The event is scheduled to be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 10 in the Delavan-Grider Community Center at 877 E. Delavan Ave.
"Our kids are being exposed to guns younger and younger," Lane said. "We hope to take a proactive approach to this. This is about not letting them get comfortable [with guns] and ending the violence that has plagued our community for years."