Wishing Americans a happy Father’s Day, the White House tweeted a picture of President Obama and one of his daughters playing with toy water pistols.
The Tweet comes at a time when several schools around the country—fearful that such toys make kids more prone to violent behavior—have launched trade-in programs that encourage children to exchange their harmless toy guns for chances to win prizes, like books and bicycles.
One such trade-in took place last weekend at Strobridge Elementary in California. Principal Chris Hill, who organized the event, explained that toy guns desensitize kids toward gun violence.
“Playing with toys guns, saying ‘I’m going to shoot you,’ desensitizes them, so as they get older, it’s easier for them to use a real gun,” Hill said in a statement to Mercury News.
Earlier this year, a California activist named Jerry Rubin ramped up his efforts to dissuade parents from buying toy guns for their children.
Children who bring toy guns to school have met with severe punishments as of late. A Maryland kindergartner who took his cap gun on the bus was interrogated by administrators until he peed his pants, and then suspended for 10 days. Cap guns have bright, colorful tips to distinguish them from real guns, and make a popping noise when fired.
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