(WTNH)–There’s been a push by Connecticut lawmakers to protect children from guns. The toy gun debate is often a hot topic for parents. Many of them look so real that kids will mistake a deadly weapon for a toy.
Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal warns parents to think twice before purchasing their child a toy or replica gun this holiday season.
“When police confront someone carrying one of these imitation or look alike firearms they have to assume its real,” Blumenthal said.
Toy guns are federally regulated–they must include a bright colored plug inserted in the barrel. The problem is that these plugs can easily be painted over.
“When we approach someone carrying one of these guns in perfect daylight, it’s hard to tell if it’s a fake gun, let alone at night,” said Deputy Chief Brian Foley of Hartford police.
Blumenthal is introducing a bill that would force manufacturers to make toy guns more easily recognizable by making the markings permanent. It includes paint ball and other imitation style firearms. In a statement, the Toy Association said it doesn’t believe the legislation will have a major impact on the toy industry.
“Under federal law, all toy guns are required to be brightly colored, or to have either a blaze orange plug in the end of the barrel or a blaze orange band at the end of the muzzle. These marking requirements – which are more than adequate for distinguishing toy guns from real weapons,” said spokesman Al Kaufman.
Three years ago this week, 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot and killed by police in Cleveland when police said he reached for his imitation toy gun.
Just last week in Hartford, police said a 17-year-old stole a car, and when the car’s owner tracked him down, he pulled a replica firearm. The car’s owner, who was legally carrying a firearm, shot the teen in the face. The teenager is expected to survive.
The president of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League says his organization hasn’t taken a specific stance on permanently marking toy guns, but told News 8 in a statement:
“Legislators should have no business telling parents what toys they should or shouldn’t buy for their kids. It’s simply not the place for lawmakers to meddle. It’s appalling to even start the holiday season out like this.”
Senator Blumenthal says at least 86 people carrying toy or imitation style guns were killed by police nationwide in the last two years.