Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Regulate ?deadly? toy guns

Idaho could well lead the way on a national issue that has been all but ignored during volatile debates on gun rights. Toy guns that look real.

Although statistics are difficult to find, now and then the news includes the story of a person, sometimes a child, being shot by police who believed the victim was carrying a real firearm, but which sadly turned out to be a plastic toy.

A call for an outright ban on real-looking toy guns, or rigid controls that require clearer distinctions, has been proposed by Shoshone-Bannock tribe spokesman Dave Archuleta, who cites recent episodes in Bannock County where police have responded to calls involving children with realistic firearms.

In past generations, toy guns were obviously small cap pistols. But as America's gun culture grew in the past several decades, toy makers found a bonanza among children by manufacturing plastic replicas that resemble popular military firearms with well-known brand names. With shootings of police on the increase, officers understandably regard anyone with what appears to be a weapon as a threat.

If Idaho lawmakers don't have the stomach for a total ban on toy gun replicas of real weapons, then they could insist on toy guns made in bright colors to distinguish them from gunmetal colors.

Or, if legislators consider this a national issue, Idaho lawmakers could adopt a resolution to create momentum for congressional action to ban or require altered colors on toy guns.

And please: This is no place for the National Rifle Association to whine the right to bear arms is threatened.

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