Annapolis expands anti-violence efforts to youths through toy-gun buyback event

Exchange items include cash, games and books

May 12, 2000|By Amy Oakes | Amy Oakes,SUN STAFF

The Annapolis gun-buyback program is to expand its sweep this evening -- to children. In an event combined with anti-violence activities, youngsters have been invited to turn in their toy weaponry for cash, educational games, and books and clothing.

"This isn't coming from any legislation," said Alderman Cynthia A. Carter, the Ward 6 Democrat who proposed the toy-gun buyback several weeks ago and said she has garnered community support. "This is just people who want to do something about guns and kids."

The buyback is scheduled for 6: 30 p.m. at the Stanton Center, 92 W. Washington St. Participants will be able to exchange cap, pellet and other toy guns. Food and educational programs will be featured.

Several area businesses and organizations, including United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400, have donated money, games, books, clothes and hot dogs.

The event will also feature at a reduced fee the "Motivational Game Show," a youth-oriented anti-violence program that Anthony Drew and Anthony Murrill have presented in the Washington area for the past five years and are bringing to Annapolis for the first time.

"The kids are the ones who are going to make a difference," Drew said. "We can only teach them what's right and what's wrong."

The show, scheduled for 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., will include music and group discussion.

"We're going down to Annapolis to make a difference," Drew said.

Carter spent much of yesterday gathering last-minute donations for the buyback. She also has donated money to the effort.

"Kids need to realize a gun, even if it's a toy one, sends the wrong message," Carter said. "There's nothing good about them."

Christine Davenport, president of Delta Sigma Theta of North Anne Arundel County, said she supports Carter's idea. The sorority has donated money and time to the buyback.

"A lot of us are mothers, so we're especially worried about children and guns," Davenport said. "Toy guns are the starting point."

Davenport said she would like to see the toy-gun buyback in north Anne Arundel County.

"Guns have no educational value whatsoever," she said.

Toy-gun buybacks have been conducted elsewhere in the nation.

At a community center in Buffalo, N.Y., hundreds of children show up annually for a buyback.

Carter said she thought of the toy-gun buyback after seeing the success of the first Annapolis gun buyback.

The Annapolis Police Department, with funding from the city's Housing Authority, conducted two gun buybacks last month, which yielded 324 weapons.

The guns were exchanged for $50 and $100, no questions asked.

Carter said she will offer $1 to $2 for the toy guns.

"We need to do something for the children," she said.

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