New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced on Monday that the sales of toy guns that look like the real thing will no longer be allowed in the state; and while retailers such as Amazon, Walmart, and Sears among others are to clean out their shelves of the product, they will be paying over $300,000 in civil penalties.
The toy gun retailers, most especially Walmart who will be paying the bulk of the fine for selling the product through its website following an earlier ban, will thus face the music for selling over 6,400 illegal toy guns between 2012 and 2014. Apart from the state imposed fine which the retailers agreed to, a tighter restriction is also being placed on the shipping of toy guns bought online.
“We’ve had 63 people shot in New York because law enforcement officers thought the toy gun was a real gun,” Schneiderman said during an appearance on the “Today” show. “That’s not acceptable.”
To indicate what an approved toy gun should look like, Schneiderman displayed a plastic rifle which has its buttstock painted yellow and its barrel in orange colour.
“No one is going to hand over their wallet because they’re being held up by this,” he said, holding up the plaything. “No police officer is ever going to mistake this for a real gun and shoot someone in a tragic incident.”
New York City already requires that toy guns sold be brightly coloured with orange tips at the end of the barrel, but this regulation is now being applied state-wide.
This development became necessary when two unarmed black folks were killed by police who said they mistook their toy guns for real guns. Twenty-two-year-old John Crawford was killed a year ago when he was shot by the police at a Wal-Mart near Dayton in Ohio. It turned out Crawford was holding a pellet gun. And last November, 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot and killed in Cleveland while playing with a pellet gun close to a local park.
“We are pleased that we were able to resolve the attorney general’s concerns regarding toy gun sales in a mutually satisfactory way,” said Howard Riefs, a spokesman for Sears, in an emailed statement. “We remain committed to meeting the needs of our many customers and members in New York.”
Walmart is being mandated to pay the bulk of the penalty because it signed an agreement with the state in 2003 over the ban of illegal toy guns; but investigations later revealed the major store sold 149 of the items to customers in New York through its website.
“Once the New York attorney general expressed concern with certain items sold at Walmart.com we blocked the shipment of those items into the state,” said Randy Hargrove, a Walmart spokesman, adding that the website’s shipping policies for the state have been revised to meet New York City standards. “We are pleased we were able to resolve this matter, along with several other retailers.”
Amazon failed to respond to an email requesting for comment.