Never let a tragedy go to waste.
The New York machine is responding to the tragic death of 12 year old Tamir Rice by reigniting its own war on realistic looking toy guns.
Tamir Rice was killed in Cleveland last month after police officers mistook his pellet gun for a deadly weapon. According to New York law, it is illegal to sell a toy gun missing a tell-tale orange stripe, marking it as a fake as opposed to a hot gun. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is firing cease and desist letters to Amazon.com, Wal-Mart, and Kmart, retailers that have all allegedly sold toy guns lacking the stripe, arguing that those sales took place in violation of New York laws intended to keep both civilians and officers safe.
“When toy guns are mistaken for real guns, there can be tragic consequences,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said today in a statement. “Retailers cannot put children and law enforcement at risk by selling toy guns that are virtually indistinguishable from the real thing.”
Schneiderman said his office found that toy guns banned in the state have been widely available online and accessible to New Yorkers. Some were advertised as “realistic looking” and “full size,” including imitation assault rifles, shotguns and pistols, he said.
Since 1997, four people have been killed in New York when law enforcement mistook toy guns for real ones, he said.
In a recent article in New York Times Magazine, Jay Kang makes a great point (albeit floating in a sea of progressive order victimology) about these types of laws, and putting the burden on manufacturers and retailers to “keep us safe.”
The problem? Kids will be kids. Boys will be boys. If the draw of realistic weaponry overpowers the draw toward “safety first,” you can kiss those orange warning stripes goodbye:
Pain and menace were the point. If you give a child a stick, he will turn it into a sword or a club. If you give him anything L-shaped, he will pretend it is a gun. If you give toy guns to two children, they will split themselves up into heroes and villains — cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians, SEALs and terrorists. The blaze orange plug, no matter how small, ruins the illusion. As long as children play in this way, any gun-shaped thing of any color will be painted, scraped and melted — or whatever else is necessary — to make it look as real as possible.
Last month, in response to the shootings [of Tamir Rice and John Crawford, another victim of mistaken weapon identity,] Alicia Reece, an Ohio state legislator, announced that she would be introducing legislation to expand existing laws mandating bright markings on replica guns to include BB, pellet and airsoft weapons. But Reece’s legislation, if passed, would not prevent children from painting over any brightly colored markings, and it certainly would not force the police to take more time to assess a potentially dangerous situation.
So, whose responsibility is it to make sure toy guns aren’t mistaken for real guns? The correct answer is, “everybody’s responsibility.” Parents, teach your children that guns are to be taken seriously—and to not point them at people who aren’t involved in the game—and that all play stops when a uniformed officer starts asking questions.
Retailers like Wal-Mart and Amazon are working to turn a profit, and even if they do change their business scheme to eliminate the sales of illegal toy guns in New York, it’s going to take a lot more than a stern warning from the Attorney General to keep kids from doing everything they can to make their playtime as realistic as possible.DONATE
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.