Toy Gun Control

The right to bear fake arms is getting shot down around the world


| June 7, 2007


Chinese authorities recently raided a Shanghai Wal-Mart for selling illegal arms: 46 toy guns deemed 'too real' by the local bureau of quality and technical supervision, according to a Reuters report. The toy guns were in violation of Chinese regulations that stipulate that half of a fake firearm must be a bright color. 'The toy guns sold in Wal-Mart are too real, and such toys can be harmful to children by easily inducing them to violence,' an unnamed official told state media.

Fake guns seem to be causing trouble on a global scale. The Evening Standard reports that a few weeks ago two London teenagers were met by armed police officers, a K-9 unit, and helicopters when their fake gun was mistaken for the real thing while the two were on their way home from a 'Cowboys and Indians' party.

In the United States, it's not uncommon to hear of such scenarios turning violent, with police officers shooting kids after mistaking toy guns for the real thing. Parents, police, and local officials across the country are seeking ways to avoid such tragedies and also to tamp down on the use of the fake guns in real criminal activity. According to the Dallas Morning News, in May the Dallas city council unanimously passed laws banning people from brandishing toy guns in public places. (The law is not as stiff as some would have liked, as it excuses BB, paintball, and pellet guns, among others.) Home News Tribune reports that Freehold Township in central New Jersey has taken its ban a step further, passing an ordinance in April that banned the sale of realistic toy guns to minors.

And in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, police chief Sam Gatchell is taking an even stronger stance on the issue. According to the Lancaster New Era, Gatchell has called for an end to the production of all realistic toy guns because of their growing use in robberies. 'You can't give me one good reason why they have to look so real,' Gatchell said on the heels of a three-and-a-half hour standoff in which the captor's gun turned out to be a spray-painted fake.

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