Philadelphia City Councilman Wants to Outlaw Realistic-Looking Toy Guns

Kenyatta Johnson's bill, introduced yesterday, would outlaw the sale of realistic-looking toy guns — though props and historical replicas would be exempt.

Toy Gun

Philadelphia City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson has introduced legislation to ban toy guns. His bill, which he introduced at City Council on Thursday, comes after a man holding a toy gun was killed in an Ohio Walmart and a recent rally in Point Breeze that convinced a corner store to stop selling BB guns.

Johnson’s ban on toy guns would exempt ones that are “white, bright colored or entirely transparent,” according to the Inquirer, and would also allow historical replicas and props. Atlantic City recently passed a toy gun ban with similar exemptions. Johnson is also pushing legislation that would increase the penalty for selling a BB gun, which is already illegal in Philadelphia.

“We don’t want to see another Ferguson take place in the city of Philadelphia,” Johnson said. (The shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson didn’t involve toy guns. It’s likely Johnson actually meant Ohio, where John Crawford III was shot in a Walmart while holding a toy rifle.)

Paulsboro Police Chief Chris Wachter recently told the South Jersey Times that “it’s a very serious issue across the country, the toy guns are very realistic in the weight, the way they’re designed.” Toy guns must have an orange tip at the front, but it can obviously be removed or colored over. California attempted to ban realistic-looking toy guns last year, but the bill didn’t pass.

As for actually playing with toy guns, there doesn’t seem to be too much to worry about. “Toys themselves do not promote aggressive behavior,” the Toy Industry Association says. “In fact, role play and fantasy help children work through and cope with what is happening in the world around them.” The research seems to agree with the industry: Playing with toy guns isn’t necessarily harmful. But it’s definitely safer to make sure those guns are bright orange instead of black.

[Inquirer | Inquirer | KYW 1060 | Press of AC]