A St. Louis, Mo., pastor has announced his plans to hold a toy gun buyback event at his church in the upcoming months in order to encourage youth to play with more “wholesome” toys.
Rodney Francis, pastor of Washington Tabernacle Baptist Church in St. Louis, told The Christian Post that the buyback will encourage parents to trade in their children’s toy knives, guns, swords, and all other toys “designed to hurt” for more “wholesome toys.”
Francis told CP that the idea came about when his congregation participated in a forum on gun violence on Friday, Feb. 22, during which they learned that 108 people had been shot to death in St. Louis in 2012.
Out of these 108 shootings, 42 of the victims had been under the age of 25.
“One of the things that kept coming out of the conversation with public safety officials is that there is a ‘culture of violence’ that we have to begin to address,” Francis said of the public forum on gun violence.
Francis went on to tell CP that his congregation saw a toy gun buyback event as an opportunity to begin the conversation regarding this “culture of violence.”
“We need to address the culture of violence starting with our parents, toddlers, and children,” Francis said, adding “it’s easier to bend a twig than an oak.”
The pastor went on to indicate that the buyback event will also give parents the opportunity to trade in their children’s misogynistic music and violent video games, but the focus still remains on toy guns.
“The fact that guns are so accessible in our community is one of the reasons that so many of our kids are dying early,” Francis said.
Francis added that although he and his congregation do not want to get involved in a political debate regarding Second Amendment rights, he does support legislation which calls for a greater accountability of gun possession, as well as legislation that would slow the proliferation of “black market” guns into the community.
The congregation’s plans for a toy gun buyback event have gained such a large amount of media coverage that Francis says they are hoping to bring the event to a national level, and the committee for the event is currently trying to determine the most strategic time to hold the event.
Francis told DELUX that the buyback event will probably take place closer to the start of summer 2013.
We gotta give Pastor Rodney Francis an A+ for creativity and effort. The pastor of the Washington Tabernacle Baptist church in St. Louis is planning on tackling the gun problem by nipping it in the bud. His church is planning a “buyback” of kids’ toy guns. Francis says parents are encouraged to trade in their kids’ toy weapons — swords, guns, you name it — for a more “wholesome” toy. Why? To help fight the culture of violence, Francis explains — a culture that he says kids are getting exposed to at a younger and younger age. Francis declares that there are no violent toys or games at his house, and he and his wife feel they should do “everything we can to not allow our kids to get exposed to this too early.”
Delux Magazine actually caught up with Pastor Rodney Francis on Saturday and discussed this buy back program. We have committed to assisting in this toy buy back– “…our community needs a change. We have to start somewhere by doing something.” -Keith Griffin II Publisher of Delux Magazine