N.J. senator proposes toy gun ban
(New Jersey- WABC, July 11, 2007) (WABC) -- A New Jersey senator wants to make it illegal to sell or give to anyone under age 18 toy guns that look so realistic they can be mistaken for a real firearm.
"The margin between a child's stupid mistake and a tragic ending is far too thin," said Sen. Nicholas Scutari.
Scutari, D-Union, introduced the proposal in late June and plans to push it when the Legislature reconvenes late this year. He said the bill stems from an incident in a Union Township where four students were suspended after bringing a cap gun to school.
"We need to stress to our children that guns are not toys, but deadly weapons which should always be regarded with extreme caution and handled with respect," Scutari said. "Restricting access to imitation firearms will help to drive that point home."
Gun rights advocates plan to fight the bill.
"It misses the mark because it demonizes toys instead of criminal behavior," said Scott Bach, president of the New Jersey Association of Rifle and Pistol Clubs, which is the National Rifle Association's New Jersey organization.
If the measure is enacted, New Jersey would join several states that have restricted access to realistic toy guns to minors.
New York, for instance, got Wal-Mart in 2003 to stop selling toy guns that fail to have a non-removable orange stripe along the barrel. The retailer also agreed to stop selling toy guns in realistic colors such as black, blue and silver and paid $200,000 in civil penalties.
Scutari's bill would make it illegal to sell or give to anyone under 18 and imitation firearm, which is defined as anything "reasonably capable of being mistaken for a firearm."
The bill is based on a 1987 New Jersey law that bars the sale of hunting, fishing, combat and survival knives with blades of more than five inches to anyone under 18.
Violators would face a fine of up to $1,000 and up to six months in prison.
Scutari said the bill would help police and school officials figure out whether a firearm is either fake or real, but Bach said it would intrude upon retailers and parents.
"This bill seeks to intimidate retailers of even toy water pistols rather than to address the bad acts of criminals who use imitation guns in furtherance of crime," Bach said. "A parent who gives a child a toy firearm as a gift would be guilty under this legislation."
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