When is it a good idea to ban toy guns?

In the wake of Atlantic City’s decision to ban realistic-looking toy guns, I was asked the question of whether I could ever get on board with such a radical legislative initiative.

After giving it some thought, I decided that I’d support a ban on toy guns under the following conditions:

1. If all gun-control organizations ceased to exist, meaning that there was no ongoing and active campaign to demonize firearms and roll back the Second Amendment as we know it today.

2. Any child interested in learning how to shoot was allowed to participate in a gun safety education program where the child would be taught the basics from a certified instructor and spend time shooting a variety of firearms at a quality range.

3. In addition to a special gun safety education program for youths, every high school in America offered shooting sports and hunting-related curriculum to ensure that all teens interested in firearms could hone their skills.

4. The government created a program to subsidize gun ownership. At age 18, every law-abiding citizen would be given a monetary incentive to purchase one handgun, one shotgun and one rifle. Of course, what good is a gun without ammo? That subsidy would extend to the purchase of 1,000 rounds of ammo for each firearm purchased.

5. Finally, the Supreme Court ruled unequivocally that the right to keep and bear arms extends beyond the home to any place that an individual has the lawful right to be. As such, all may-issue concealed carry laws that require the approval of a chief law enforcement officer would be declared unconstitutional.

I think under those aforementioned circumstances I could get behind a ban on toy firearms because children, teens and young adults would have supervised and universal access to the real thing. In my mind, that would make realistic-looking toy guns obsolete because why play around with a fake gun when one can go out and shoot the real thing?

But then again, even under those circumstances one would have to ask what is there to be gained by banning toy firearms? Would it make society safer? Would it make criminals any less inclined to commit crimes?

The answer, probably not. After all, crime is a people problem, not one spurred by the existence of an inanimate object. So, perhaps one could argue that under no circumstances does it make sense to ban toy firearms.  I suppose that’s where I ultimately end up after this rather self-evident thought exercise.

All that said, what are your thoughts? Under what hypothetical circumstances would you support a ban on toy guns?


About the author: S.H. Blannelberry is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.

{ 10 comments… add one }
  • dragonmalice September 29, 2014, 6:12 pm

    During my airsoft days, I actually paid visits to local police departments to get a feel for their position. Orange markings on a muzzle will not stop them from responding to a gun pointed at them – otherwise, every criminal would paint their real guns orange. Making these guns not look remotely real would take a major redesign, part of which would defeat a lot of their value.

    We made sure to keep our games on private local property or paintball fields where there couldn’t be issues, trained our participants in the dangers of brandishing a look alike, and used the sport as a way to train proper gun handling as well. We made sure everyone transported the guns following the laws of our state for real arms. The days I remember of being able to run around the neighborhood with real looking toy guns are over, sadly, but the guns aren’t to blame. Parents need to open their eyes and start teaching their kids some common sense. I see a lot of positives to the use of “toy” guns that would probably make the top of anyone’s ban list. Getting off the couch and spending the weekend running around was pretty healthy, too.

    As to how it’s a 2A issue, training value aside, it’s the same old song and dance: divide and conquer. This isn’t the destination to them, it’s just a step along the way. Stigmatize everything about guns, especially their appearance – they want people to cringe at the sight of anything remotely gun-like, and it’s working. If you don’t hold the line where you draw it, you’ll just have to keep backing up.

  • Walt White September 29, 2014, 11:53 am

    I banned toy guns for my older kids. All the guns in our house were real and they knew it. I never had any problems. If they were curious I would hold the gun and let them touch it. Later they learned to shoot at ages that ranged from six to thirteen depending on their response to a spoken command to “stop”.

    My younger kids did have toy guns and it didn’t seem to do them any harm. But the rules for safe handling applied the same as for real firearms.

  • Matthew Mays September 29, 2014, 10:54 am

    My first point is yes maybe toy or BBC guns should be marked would it be safer?yes but kids are not taught anything not gun safety,not respect or responsibility,he’ll most of the kids now are not even taught common sense.and why because no one should spank their kids,and the schools are not aloud to do anything really .I mean really detention does just as much good with most kids as jail does with most adults,I was given my first real gun at 8 had it in my possession full time from 10 on along with a number of other guns ranging from a 22(my first)to an ak 47 and why should anyone have an ak or ar?because it’s our right as law abiding citizens just like it’s a parent’s right and responsibility to discipline and teach their child I’m not talking about beating them bloody I’m talking about a whooping when I was a kid I got belts hands wooden and plastic cooking spoons and news flash I lived. In conclusion I do think companies should make toy guns look like toys but parent’s should have the sense to keep them in line not pointing them at people who are not playing and definitely not cops.because black electric tape will cover up orange and kids will still be getting hurt and who’s fault. Is it then.

  • Zeke September 29, 2014, 10:12 am

    I’d leave the government subsidies of gun ownership out of the conditions.

    Freedom means less government. 2nd Amendment says “shall not be infringed”, never “shall be subsidized”

  • John Harris September 29, 2014, 9:16 am

    If toy guns are banned, like my parents tried to make as a rule in our house (due to a close family friend’s daughter being fatally shot through a fence while the neighbor boy was showing Daddy’s gun to his buddy). We used sticks instead. We had battled with the Green Army Guys. We still found a way to get a substitute for a gun, so we could play Cops & Robbers (tag, with something that’s supposed to look like a gun and vocalized gun noises).

    It only grew to make guns elusive and probably more dangerous. I bought my first rifle less than a week after my 18th birthday and probably did a lot of unsafe things due to ignorance. Nobody got hurt, fortunately. I heard bullets fly past after ricocheting off water. I got splattered with mud when a “buddy” shot the ground close to my foot. He wasn’t allowed to have toy guns either.

    In short, we are lucky to have survived our adolescence. With ANYBODY teaching us how we were supposed to treat guns, we wouldn’t have been so dangerously ignorant.

    Epilogue: The group of delinquents (just turned 18) had all enlisted and shipped out over the following Summer. Our training cadres taught us proper handling and use. Now, we all have our own guns and our children have Air-Soft guns. They also have safety rules and clear instructions to drop them immediately if an adult tells them to do so. Aside from the light bulbs on the back of my garage, (I was a party to that), there hasn’t been anything damaged.

  • MarkPA September 29, 2014, 8:30 am

    I’m baffled by the opposition to decorating toy guns. First, it’s not a 2A issue at all, IMO. There is only one tiny aspect of a possible 2A issue: Do we claim a constitutional right to decorate real guns to make them appear to be toys? I can’t take such a claim seriously. I see no reason to oppose making it a felony to possess a real gun decorated with a specified marking reserved for toy guns.
    Do we deny that cops have killed children bearing toy guns who were NOT attempting to deceive others into believing their toys were real? Not a lot; but 1 or 2 is two too many. What is at stake here? Anything about the 2A? Or, is it a regulation of parents’ responsibility to take seriously their children’s safety?
    We PotG ought to be taking the lead here. WE ought to discuss a marking standard that we would regard as best-practice. E.g., an orange band on the muzzle for toys and a yellow band for BB and pellet guns. (Lots of details to consider, this is merely illustrative of a starting point. We need a discussion among PotG – Moms need not apply – to iron out the details such as pink-colored real guns.) Once gun users have a standard we are satisfied with we ought to advocate our State legislators adopt a uniform law for toys. Once 1/4 of the States have such a law then toy manufacturers would conform for new production. Parents would buy orange/yellow tape and mark their children’s toys from old production. A small fine – $25 or so – would nudge along the lazy parents. Mostly, neighboring parents would tape non-compliant children’s guns.
    We ought to take this marking of toy guns as an opportunity to counter the accusations of the Moms that we PotG don’t care about children. It is precisely because there is no legitimate 2A issue involved here that we ought to be seising the initiative here.

  • Mac Hayes September 29, 2014, 4:15 am

    First off, not completely related to the question: every child should be given the opportunity to fire four or five shots with a large-caliber pistol by the age of eight or nine (younger if they show any interest in shooting). The pistol should preferably be 45 ACP, but definitely nothing smaller than a 9mm. The idea is to let them experience the recoil of a real gun while they are still small enough to understand that it takes muscle to control a pistol. Unless they are 6 feet tall and built like Arnold Schwarzenegger, by age nine this should prevent most accidental shootings by children of average or better intelligence. Call me radical if you want, but I think anyone aiming a realistic looking gun at the police probably should be eliminated from the gene pool. No legislation needs to be passed, just early education in being responsible and not flippant or careless in handling guns. Looking at it from the LEO side of the equation, officers must be trained to NOT shoot at someone holding a gun unless the gun is being handled in a truly threatening manner. “Truly threatening manner” should need no legal definition, other than not taking just any casual bystander’s word as gospel for the manner in which the gun is being handled.

  • James Kimmons September 24, 2014, 8:12 pm

    I can get behind it IF:

    1. Police have “mistakenly” shot more than one person holding a cell phone they thought was a weapon … ban cell phones.
    2. Police recently shot a woman in her front yard holding a cordless drill because it looked like a gun … ban cordless drills.
    3. Since bananas turn black when overripe, they could easily mistake someone holding an overripe banana as a threat … so away with bananas.

    I can go on, but it wouldn’t do any good.

    • Bob Fitzpatrick September 29, 2014, 10:25 pm

      My buddy Charles Salter, Cpl Charlie Co. 1/9 USMC Lost his life in a firefight near the DMZ on 4/5/67. Charlie’s parents were completely opposed to guns and would not let him have a cap pistol. He volunteered to join the Marines out of high school and lasted about four months in combat. Sometimes life doesn’t make sense. When you get down to it everybody on earth dies some die a coward from old age others die a hero before they are old enough to vote. Life ain’t fair.

      • D Hicks September 30, 2014, 9:04 am

        I got my first Mattel Toy M 16 that had battle sounds come out of the butt stock and machine gun sounds when you pulled the trigger around 1968, a present from my Korean War combat Vet dad, later I was given a real one.I bought my kids all kind of toy guns.No one was ever hurt by a TOY Toys are of kids. Because of toy guns and later real guns and hunting my son made it home after TWO Afgan combat tours,Staff Sargent USMC.

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