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Welcome to New York, where fake guns are…frowned upon

Welcome to New York, where fake guns are…frowned upon

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, 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.

Via Bloomberg:

“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.


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Back in the 1960s, we boys played with realistic-looking toy guns (the Mattel M-16 was a full-sized look-alike, for instance) and nobody freaked out, nobody called the cops, and nobody got shot. Today’s rabid hysteria over firearms (and toys that resemble them) is the result of decades of propaganda generated by anti-gun forces and parroted by the MSM. These are the folks responsible for getting children with toy guns killed.

    Immolate in reply to DaveGinOly. | December 18, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    But that was a time when cops didn’t go into SWAT mode ever time they saw a civilian with a weapon. It’s amazing how precious people’s lives have become to themselves–to the point that it seems reasonable to preemptively ventilate anyone with even a potential to cause harm.

    inspectorudy in reply to DaveGinOly. | December 18, 2014 at 4:02 pm

    Dave, I agree with you but the cops have to take some of the blame for their over reaction when they see any type of object in someones hand. If the toy makers made them bright pink or orange cops would still kill some at night because the color would not be visible. I am not anti cop or a hands up don’t shoot believer but cops have gotten trigger happy since I was a boy. I knew several cops when I was growing up and most had NEVER pulled their guns out while on duty. And the ones that did almost never pulled the trigger. Things have changed on both sides.

      Ragspierre in reply to inspectorudy. | December 18, 2014 at 5:31 pm

      You need to watch some old movies.

      The cops used to open up on you if you ran from them. That was the culture, and it didn’t matter if the street was crowded with innocent by-standers or you were no threat to the cops. It was just how it was.

      And, yeah, there are any number of LEOs today that never un-holster a firearm in their entire career. It depends HUGELY on what it is they do, where they do it, and pure luck.

        MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to Ragspierre. | December 18, 2014 at 5:56 pm

        Or even some cop/detective shows: Dragnet ( not so much ), Adam-12, the FBI, Stereets of San Fransisco Hawaii 5-0, Mannix, where it was pretty much the same.

        They even opened up on fleeing criminals.
        Plus the traditional “warning shot in the air” then they shot at the perps.

          Dirty Harry’s idea of a warning shot was to put a 44 slug into a perp’s leg across a football field.

          “Do you feel lucky? Well, do you, punk?”
          (one of the best movie lines)

    MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to DaveGinOly. | December 18, 2014 at 5:46 pm

    Yeah I had one which I used to carry while biking, strafing everything.
    They were not that realistic.

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to DaveGinOly. | December 19, 2014 at 1:53 am

    The kid got shot because he refused to follow the cop’s order to put his hands up. Instead, he reached into his pants and grabbed the gun, which really isn’t a toy per se because it does pellets. It certainly wasn’t a cap gun or a pop gun.

    If Tamir had put his hands up as ordered, he’d be alive. All he had to do was “hands up” and call out that it was a pellet gun.

    It’s a sad case, and momma’s got Crump and the gang on the job, and has had since about day two after Tamir’s death.

    Tamir looks like a cute boy and probably didn’t mean any harm. It’s a real sad case. But if anyone should be hung out to dry it’s mom for not teaching Tamir to follow police orders and for not monitoring his activities and belongings. The boy was at the age where they start getting into stuff, getting brave.

      Have you ever even looked at an Airsoft gun? It is not a “pellet gun” which shoots metal pellets. It shoots plastic spheres with about the same mass and impact as a rubber band.

buckeyeminuteman | December 18, 2014 at 2:19 pm

I can think of 2 different toy guns I had as a kid that I had put black electrical tape over the orange tip. They both looked real after that. Boys will be boys, and criminals will be criminals (and no I am not lumping them both into the same category).

    I can think of 2 different toy guns I had as a kid that I had put black electrical tape over the orange tip.

    Just curious, what did your parents say/do when they found out?

      buckeyeminuteman in reply to rinardman. | December 19, 2014 at 1:36 pm

      My dad took me out trick-or-treating. I was 8 and going as a Desert Storm soldier, I even had the old chocolate chip desert camo! The orange tip just didn’t feel right. However, in the context of Halloween I’m sure that nobody assumed I was carrying around a real gun and up to no good.

    The real problem is when the BGs start putting bright orange tips on their *real* guns. Whatever moment of hesitation that generates in LEOs could make the difference between life and death.

    There’s a whole bunch of common sense context that has disappeared here – 12 year old in a park, it’s likely a toy. Thugs in an alley surrounding a woman, pointing threateningly at her with something bright orange, it’s likely real.

      inspectorudy in reply to jhkrischel. | December 18, 2014 at 4:07 pm

      You, my friend used the word that many cops seem to have forgotten and that is CONTEXT. Like you said when you see a kid in a city park playing and acting silly with what looks like a real gun it probably isn’t. That doesn’t mean to not be careful but for God’s sake don’t shoot first! To me it seems like a lot of cops picked the wrong career and are a little too jumpy for police work.

        You, my friend, seem like you are completely ignorant of the ‘context’ that caused this shooting to happen.

        First of all, the police were CALLED by people that apparently the kid had threatened with his gun.

        When the police arrived on scene, they told him to put his hands up. He grabbed for the gun instead.

        I challenge you to present a single plausible situation where police have told you to freeze or put your hands up and you reaching for a weapon will NOT get you shot. THAT is your context.

          The 9-1-1 dispatcher was also told by the caller that the gun was probably fake. That part did not get relayed to the responding officer.

          If it had, Tamir Rice may still be alive.

          I don’t think officers should be required to take unnecessary chances with their lives, but they should also be provided all the relevant information available at the time. “Probably a fake gun” is decidedly relevant.

          That’s a part of the context that was missing from that scenario.

          JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Olinser. | December 19, 2014 at 2:17 am

          Archer, an officer on scene has to make the judgment call. The words of John Q. Citizen watching the scene from a distance has less information than that officer, Further, and I believe it was the first caller, said it was about a 20 yr. old guy waving a gun around. If the officer hadn’t assumed worse-case scenario based on his observation at arrival, and that gun had been real, it’s quite possible he could be dead now.

          The 2-seconds on scene before the officer hired is a canard, as kong as Tamir reached for the gun. 2 seconds, 10 seconds, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter how quickly Tamir reached for his gun. The cop, rightfully IMO, took the right measures, sad as the outcome was.

          This one’s on mom.

          amwick in reply to Olinser. | December 19, 2014 at 7:51 am

          What would happen if a dispatcher told a LEO that a gun was probably a fake, and then an actual shooting happened? My own opinion is that they cannot make that determination over the phone. Why pass it along?

    TrooperJohnSmith in reply to buckeyeminuteman. | December 18, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    You must be really young.

    When I was a kid, the only thing with “orange tips” were Dreamsicle Bars and my sister’s baton.

All cops must treat every gun as real. It is far too easy to simply paint the tip of a real gun orange and gain a hesitation advantage over a cop.

    jhkrischel in reply to Anchovy. | December 18, 2014 at 3:28 pm

    Agreed, but the context of how a gun is being handled, presented, and who is doing the handling has to factor in.

    Not sure what the use of force guidelines are for any particular department, but they should damn well consider contextual clues beyond “it looks like a real gun in their hand”. When dealing with kids playing in the park, it wouldn’t be too unreasonable to ask cops to hesitate just a little more than when dealing with thugs in back alleys.

    Put another way, simply holding a gun should never be sufficient cause for a LEO to employ deadly force, regardless of how realistic it is.

I had a 22 at the age of 11. No one thought anything about it when I walked down the street with it. I could have carried it to elementary school and the only reaction would have been to set it aside. My friends had 22’s as well.

One thing is certain, in that time period a police officer would not have fired until fired upon, when confronted by a kid with a gun, toy or not. At least where I lived…

    Ragspierre in reply to Barry. | December 18, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    Where you grew up, when you grew up, did you have 12 and 14 year-old hit men working for gangs and drug cartels?

    We’ve had them for a couple of decades now, if not longer.

      “Where you grew up, when you grew up, did you… ”

      Greensboro, nc – fifties/sixties – no we didn’t.

      Which is why mentioned “that time period” and “where I lived”, but that doesn’t provide much info 🙂

      I was not intending to cast aspersions on the need for the current rules/regulations, just lamenting the *loss of innocence*.

      I have no good answers for a society full of 12-14 year old hit men other than to apprehend, then jail or kill those that employ such youngsters.

    Ok, apparently I’m from the boonies. I was in High School in the early 90s in Upstate New York, and we routinely had several of our more rural students come to school with their shotguns in Turkey and Deer season which were kept in the Agriculture, Technology and Small Engine Mechanics Lab (under lock and key), because they had gone hunting before school and they were going to go hunting after school.

    Depending on how much it had snowed that week or the prior night, sometimes they showed up to school on snowmobiles and they would be parked outside in the parking spaces on the street.

    Everybody knew about it and no one even batted an eye. It usually caused more consternation when somebody brought a knife to the school.

    I bet it’s not the case anymore, and I think that’s a terrible loss of maturity in the students who were capable of doing it, and of the community in recognizing those who SHOULD and SHOULDN’T be doing it.

      High school in the 90’s and upstate NY, I would not have believed that in the next million years 🙂

      I always carried a pocket knife in school, so did most of my friends. That was normal. I was a HS senior in 1971. Different time.

        Well, I’m from farm country. My graduating class was 137 students. A High School that small has a bit more flexibility than some of these “mega-districts.” Of those 137, at least 15 stuck around to help, and eventually run, their family farms, and about 35 of the students joined the military, enlisted or ROTC, upon graduation.

Ragspierre at 3:45 has a good point – we DO have young kids involved in violent crime these days. AND more and more cops being killed on the job. Everyone, not just kids, need to know that when a cop says “hands up” it is as much for your protection as for theirs.