BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) –  A community groups has a strong message for parents this Christmas. They want to help keep toy guns out of children’s hands…to prevent them from getting their hands on a real one.

“This is a cap gun and it sounds real,” said Leonard Lane.

As Leonard Lane shows a toy gun that’s filled with candy, he says it doesn’t need to be given to a child.

“Whatever you put in a child’s hands that’s what he feels comfortable with and you put a toy gun in his hands at an early age and when he gets older he’s going to want the real thing,” said Leonard Lane, president of Buffalo F.A.T.H.E.R.S organization

That’s why Lane is encouraging parents to give up their child’s toy guns this Christmas and exchange it for a different toy, as part of the annual Toy Gun Exchange at the Delavan Grider community center.

Lane says it’s an effort to help stop gun violence by teaching children at an early age that guns are nothing to play with.

“I understand how a mother may feel wanting to get something her child would like, but what we don’t want to do is make a child feel comfortable with a toy gun,” said Lane.

“Little kids like to play cops and robbers but you know in the environment we live in, there’s so much violence in this world that there’s so many other options for kids to have fun,” said Capt. Steve Nichols with Buffalo police.

Capt. Steve Nichols says some toy guns look real and many times young children have used those toy guns to commit crimes.

“Even with toy guns they reach an age where they start taking off the orange tip and they start pretending that they’re real guns and try and use them in robberies or other things and really all that’s going to do is get them hurt,” said Capt. Nichols.

That’s why the message to parents this holiday is clear put –even the toy guns — down.

“Put something better in their hands, something that can better the child. They need to get something a book, a football, something that can better them make them a more productive citizen in society,” said Darryl Scott, Outreach supervisor with Buffalo S.N.U.G.

Buffalo F.A.T.H.E.R.S is also hosting a ‘Toys for Joy’ drive December 16th at the Delavan Grider center, where they provide toys for less fortunate families. Families just have to sign up to be able to receive the toys.