Mayor Cory Booker wants even the youngest residents of his city to lay down their arms–their toy arms, that is. So today, kids lined up and traded up.
Eric Maxwell, 7, handed over his water gun for a shiny remote control car.
Troy Walker, 10, swapped a plastic pistol for a hockey stick and puck.
In a city riddled with gun violence, Newark officials and the anti-violence group Stop Shootin’ Music hosted the city’s first toy gun exchange today.
Booker said the nearby gunfire was from a man accidentally shooting and injuring himself, and that the fact it took place near a children’s toy gun exchange illustrated just how important such initiatives had become to curbing the cycle of violence.
“If you give kids guns, guess what they’re going to do? They’re going to shoot it,” said Peter Langman, a psychologist in Allentown, Pa., and author of “Why Kids Kill: Inside the Mind of School Shooters.”
“However, linking that to behavior when they’re 15 or 25 is very difficult,” he said.
Booker acknowledged there is no evidence linking childhood gun play to violent behavior later. “I don’t think it’s going to solve the problem in a direct way . . . it’s a rallying cry.”