Every year, nearly 3000 children and teens die from gunfire, and nearly 14,000 are injured.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Kids and real looking toy guns

With more frequency we are reporting about incidents of kids being shot by police because of real looking pellet or BB guns or of kids carrying these guns around in public. One such incident resulted in the death of a Texas middle school student when school officials believed there was a student with a gun in the school. The gun turned out to be a pellet gun. Toy guns can look like the actual thing. They are designed that way. This article points out the obvious problems with letting kids carry real looking toy guns around.
"It's always been an issue. Their existence in and of themselves is not a problem. It's when they're utilized in an unsafe or unlawful manner," Krokoff said of the weapons, which are most often powered by forced air and fire small-diameter ammunition at velocities that can pierce the skin.
BBs are round and tend to be less accurate than pellets, which often have a shaped tip and travel faster.
"They become a dangerous weapon," the chief said, "and I don't think the public, by and large, understands how dangerous they are."
In 2010, the most recent year for which data are available, the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control reported that 13,851 people were injured by BB and pellet guns.
In New York, anyone under the age of 16 is barred from possessing air-powered weapons like pellet guns, but there is little other regulation -- and none, apparently, about how realistic they can appear.
State business law prohibits the production or sale of realistic-looking fake weapons that don't have bright colors, but that measure does not apply to possessing them, nor does it apply to pellet or BB guns, according to the Legal Community Against Violence, a California-based group that aims to prevent gun violence by advocating for tighter controls at state and local levels.
But attempts to regulate toy guns also meet with resistance. From the article:
Thomas King, president of the New York State Rifle& Pistol Association, predicted any attempt to make the weapons less realistic would be met with sharp opposition from aficionados.
"If you want to see a battle, try to see when a law is proposed that will outlaw authentic-looking pellet guns. They are not going to want to fool around with a green colored or yellow-colored pellet gun," King said.
The obvious response to this comes from law enforcement:
"I'm not trying to claim that we should outlaw pellet guns. I'm sure there are some legitimate uses for them," he said. "I just don't see the need for them in an urban environment. If you want them for target practice, that's fine. You don't need them in your waistband."
Kids should not be carrying guns of any kind around with them in public places in their waistbands. Kids learn from adults. If adults carry these "toy guns" around with them thinking there is no problem, kids will model this behavior.

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