New York Not Playing Around with Toy Gun Law
The argument is that guns do not kill but the people holding
them sometimes do. When it comes to toy guns, the people holding them aren’t
going to be doing any killing but that doesn’t mean they won’t get shot
in a case of mistaken weapon identity.
Concern over innocent people – mostly kids but also some adults –
getting shot by mistake while holding toy guns has been a big issue in
New York since 1994 when a 13-year-old boy, Nicholas Heyward, living in
the Gowanus Houses public housing projects in
Brooklyn was shot when a police officer mistook the toy gun he was playing
with as the real thing. An orange cap that showed the gun was a toy was
broken off while Nicholas played cops and robbers with friends in the building.
New York has developed one of the toughest laws in the nation to eliminate
the sale of authentic looking toy guns in the state. But even with the publicity
around the issue and enforcement by state, many stores have continued to
sell toy guns that could pass under the right conditions as real firearms.
Recently, the state investigated retail stores and more than 100 locations
were found to be in violation of the ban on realistic looking
toy guns. Attorney General Andrew Cuomo sent a letter to the retailers telling
them to remove the toys in question or face legal action. Big
Lots, Dollar General, Dollar Tree and Gander Mountain were among the retailers
identified as having received the cease-and-desist letter from Mr. Cuomo’s
According to an Associated Press report, a number of prominent
retail chains including CVS, Kmart, The Sports Authority, Walgreens and Wal-Mart
Stores have been fined in the past for violating New York’s law. The biggest
fine handed down to date came against Party City, which paid a penalty of $500,000
“Realistic toy guns are a tragedy waiting to happen,” Mr.
Cuomo said in a press release. “Every day, these imitation weapons put
the lives of both law enforcement and civilians at risk. This is a public
safety matter, plain and simple, and we will not permit these companies
to profit by making our streets more dangerous.”
Federal law also prohibits the sale of imitation firearms
unless they have a bright orange plug in the barrel of the toy gun. New
York’s law goes beyond the federal restrictions.
Are you in agreement with laws that prohibit the sale of toy guns that
resemble the real thing? Is a bright orange plug in a toy gun’s barrel
enough or are more changes needed to avoid the type of confusion that
could lead to tragedy?
- NY tells stores to halt sales of some toy guns – The Associated
- Officer Shoots Boy Holding A Toy Gun – The
New York Times
- Attorney General Cuomo Orders Over 100 Companies to Immediately
Stop Selling Illegal Toy Guns That Look Like Real Deadly Weapons in New
York State – Office of the Attorney General/State
of New York