Reading Time: < 1 minute

A shop owner in New York City has learned the hard way that the city’s ban on real-looking toy guns is not a game.

The city’s Consumer Affairs division has fined the shop in Brooklyn $30,000 based on a $5,000-per-toy fine, as reported Tuesday in the New York Post here.

The huge fine, which sparked some protest as an excessive burden on small business, underscores the public divide over regulating replica guns to prevent accidental shootings.

New York’s ban is designed to protect kids from getting shot by police, supporters of the law say, as well as to reduce the likelihood of fake guns being used to commit robberies and other real crimes.

After police killed a teen with a BB gun in Texas on Jan. 4, the Center for Public Integrity reported on the history of kids being shot or nearly shot by police, and how proposed replica regulations have ignited opposition from gun interests in California and other states.

As the Post reported, the manager of a store called 99¢ Target argued that reasonable people wouldn’t confuse the toy shooters he was selling with real firearms. The guns had an orange tip, as required by federal law, but were not brightly colored, which is the city’s requirement.

The owner was offered a settlement of a lower negotiated fine of $5,400, but he said he couldn’t afford it. He declined to pay it and insisted on a hearing, which he lost. A city Consumer Affairs spokeswoman defended the fine: “Realistic-looking imitation guns are illegal and dangerous, and just last week, a 15-year-old in Texas was killed while holding one of these guns.”

Help support this work

Public Integrity doesn’t have paywalls and doesn’t accept advertising so that our investigative reporting can have the widest possible impact on addressing inequality in the U.S. Our work is possible thanks to support from people like you. 

Susan Ferriss joined CPI in 2011 and directs its immigration project. As a Cox Newspapers Latin America...