Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Crime Of Toy Guns

Tennessee State Representative, John Deberry, has proposed legislation aimed at curbing realistic looking toy gun sales and use by declaring the use of them “in a threatening manner” to be a “misdemeanor.”

DeBerry, a Democrat, has introduced the legislation seeking to join 21 other states that have enacted such legislation against toy guns since 1990. DeBerry’s bill, if passed, would make it a misdemeanor “to intentionally display or expose an imitation firearm in a public place in a threatening manner,” with exceptions granted for “justifiable self defense, lawful hunting, and displays such as a museum collection.”

While this writer acknowledges he isn’t a legal scholar or the most intelligent person in history, could someone explain just how one manages “justifiable self defense and lawful hunting” with a toy gun?

Federal Law currently mandates that toy guns be equipped with an orange tip, distinguishing them from real guns. Toy gun grabbers fear criminals could easily remove or paint over the tips. They fear also that real guns could be disguised with such a tip.

Deberry said,

It only takes 30 seconds for a kid to either take a marker or some paint, or shoe polish, and that orange tip is gone.”

Invoking the usual fear tactic, he added,
It’s important that a child cannot walk into one of these little convenience stores, plop down a dollar and walk out with something that can get him shot on the spot without question.”

Apparently the Representative doesn’t shop much if he feels a realistic looking toy can be purchased for a dollar!

Seriously, how many small children buy toys to walk out and brandish them at police? Aren’t our Police constantly under fire for shooting too quickly as well today?

An article from 2003 appearing in The Christian Science Monitor contains a photo of a New York City Police Officer supporting toy gun bans and holding a very obvious toy water pistol that couldn’t possibly be mistaken for a real gun.

The article then describes the saga of twin 14 year-old girls who robbed a bank holding a “toy air-pellet gun.” Anyone with even a cursory knowledge of guns knows that pellet guns and BB guns are not toys, but real weapons designed for limited use against small varmints or for training purposes. Toys they are not!

A 1987 New York Times article informs us of a proposed Los Angeles, California ordinance that defines realistic toy guns as “any device or object manufactured of plastic, wood, metal or any other material that can reasonably be perceived as an actual firearm.”

Exempted are “non-firing collectors’ copies of weapons,” such as the photo of the Civil War Revolver shown above. That particular replica looks and feels more realistic than any toy I ever had, but it was exempted while plastic toys were not, in Los Angeles.

Florida state Senator Gary Siplin, a Democrat whose felony conviction on a 2006 grand-theft charge was overturned last year, has a bill that prohibits carrying a paintball gun in a vehicle. He fears youngsters who may brandish paint guns from cars might use toy guns to commit armed robbery.

Siplin says,
Sometime these people try to go into a store and try to rob it with a toy gun, and if the police come they may shoot thinking it’s a real gun.”

And the problem with that is?

NRA spokesman Ashley Varner expresses her opposition to toy gun bans as “silly” due to the ineffectiveness of them to “deal with issues of crime.” She said,
It won’t eradicate the human element of the crime. It doesn't target getting criminals off the street.”

No Ms. Varner, it does not. But a criminal stupid enough to brandish a toy gun and go up against Police armed with real bullets and guns is very likely to be “gotten off the streets.”

We are also told of a case where a 20 year-old waved a plastic Uzi at an off duty Police Officer and was arrested for “aggravated assault,” as he should have been. Jurors acquitted the young man because they “felt the officer should have been able to tell it was only a toy.”

Is that the fault of the toy manufacturer, or did the District Attorney place an inadequate assistant up against a really slick Defense Attorney and fail to properly prosecute the case?

Would issuing the young man a monetary fine have deterred him and others more than a properly prosecuted case resulting in prison time?

Any crime involving the use of a gun, be it real or a toy, merits strong prosecution and in this writers opinion, a lengthier prison sentence. It is long past time to address the real problem, the criminal!


u∃∃l!∃ said...

I see the self defense use (in causing an attacker to think that one is armed).
But the "lawful hunting" had me laughing before I even go to the part of the past when you challenged it.

Toy guns can be purchased for $1 at the local dollar store.
Plastic and the labor to assemble it into cheap toys, has not kept up with inflation at all.

LewWaters said...

Eileen, I have never seen anything in the Dollar Store that could even remotely be mistaken for a real gun.

The most realistic plastic replica I ever saw was of an M-16 at a Paint Gun store for nearly $50 and it too was an obvious replica.

I did once see an M-16 replica in a Pawn Shop, made of wood and painted black, that was very realistic looking, but the cost of getting it exceeded $150.00 and it was for display only.

I can see clerks and such confusing plastic with real, if they are very unfamiliar with guns. But as in the case of the idiot who waved at plastic Uzi at the off-duty Cop, is it the fault of the manufacturer or an inept Prosecuter that he was acquited?

Anonymous said...

Here is a fairly realistic looking toy handgun for $1.50, as if that is the issue at all, anyway:

A permanent marker makes quick work of that orange tip, and then from a distance, when it is being waved around, it could easily look like a real gun. There are a number of instances of children who were shot and killed by trained professionals because they were brandishing a toy gun (Time Magazine, April 20, 1987, p 33; Sacramento Bee, July 31, 1987, p 1). Children are just playing. They assume adults will know the gun is a toy.

I am not arguing that realistic toy guns should be banned. As a matter of fact, I don't. I am only pointing out what are facts. If you want to have an actual discussion about the issue, that's great, but a knee jerk reaction to the dumb liberal agenda (i.e. try to prevent children from being shot accidentally) makes you as bad as them. Think before you write.

LewWaters said...

Perhaps you need to think before you comment.

The quoted article clearly says “It’s important that a child cannot walk into one of these little convenience stores, plop down a dollar and walk out with something that can get him shot on the spot without question.”

Airsoft guns are not toy guns and are not sold to under 18 year olds, hardly a child.

As for knee jerk, I'd say your comment I more so than my year-old post in that you too fail to address the real problem, misuse of real guns by real criminals, not children.

I don't see desiring criminals that use guns being sent away much longer as knee jerk.

Perhaps you should return and actually read the post with both eyes open.