Hempstead on Long Island has reportedly been encouraging local youth to exchange their toy guns for alternate new toys as a way of "saying no to guns."

By Chris Harris
Pefkos/Shutterstock

For a third straight year, a community on New York’s Long Island has reportedly been encouraging local youth to exchange their toy guns for alternate new toys as a way of “saying no to guns.”

Officials in Hempstead support the efforts of Sean Acosta, a former New York City police officer behind the Long Island Toy Gun Exchange.

Acosta launched the program in an effort to safeguard local kids. He said that many toy guns, including water pistols and plastic replica guns, can be mistaken for real weapons on the street and that oftentimes police cannot tell the difference on first glance.

“Saying no to guns is important — even toy guns,” Hempstead Village Mayor Don Ryan told local TV station WABC.

Kids who visit the village’s offices can turn in their toy guns for educational toys and sporting goods.

“The purpose is to offer a safe alternative to toy guns,” said Hempstead Village Trustee LaMont Johnson, according to WABC. “We don’t want the kids playing with guns. Guns are dangerous.”

At a recent launch event in the village, more than 50 kids were invited to exchange their toy guns. Some were provided with toys guns at the gathering that they could trade in for another toy.

Lt. Derek Warner of the Hempstead Village Police Department said parents should reconsider giving their kids toy guns, which he said “can be a dangerous item.”

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