Banning toy guns — and <br>solving the world’s problems<br>

Finally! Politicians have discovered how to solve all the world’s problems.

It’s so simple and obvious, you won’t believe it.

But first, breaking news in the war against crime.

Politicians in New York City and Annapolis, Md. have figured out a new way to thwart criminal activity. In both cities, legislation has been filed to ban toy guns.

Go back and read that again. That was toy guns, as in plastic six-shooters, paintball guns, Star Trek phasers, and cap guns. It even includes those high-powered Super Soaker water guns—the much-feared “semi-auto” weapons of the toy gun industry.

According to politicians, toy guns cause many problems. They are used by criminals to commit robberies. They are sometimes mistaken for real guns by police, who react with deadly force. Worst of all, they “glamorize” guns to impressionable tots.

As Alderman Cynthia A. Carter, who filed the Annapolis bill, explained, “Guns are not a toy, no matter how you look at it.”

(Quick trip to Planet Earth. Technically speaking, Ms. Carter, a toy gun is a toy, no matter how you look at it. We now return to Planet Politics.)

In New York, the bill would make it a crime to sell, possess, use, or give away any toy gun that could be perceived as an actual firearm. In Annapolis, parents would be fined if their children are caught with toy guns. (Perhaps police could even cuff them with toy handcuffs.)

Amazingly, the anti-toy gun movement doesn’t stop there.

Carrollton, Texas outlawed the possession of toy guns by minors in 2002. U.S. Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY) introduced a federal bill to impose a nationwide ban on realistic-looking toy guns in 2001. And in Sherman Oaks, Calif., the Replacing Violence With Art program collected 20,000 toy guns as part of a toy-gun “give-back” program.

At the risk of being labeled a stooge for the National Toy Rifle Association, I’ll point out the problem with all this: It’s silly.

Yes, there are cases where criminals use toy guns to commit crimes. However, banning real guns in New York City didn’t eliminate crime. What makes politicians think that banning toy guns will work any better?

And, yes, there have been tragic cases where police have shot teenagers because they mistook a toy gun (or a BB gun) for a real weapon.

But, if some recent—and absolutely true—news stories are any indication, banning toy guns won’t stop accidental police shootings.

Consider: Miami police shot a homeless man because they thought his Walkman was a gun. Chicago police shot a woman because they mistook her cell phone for a weapon. Brooklyn police shot a man when he reached for a can of beer. (Perhaps it was brewed by Smith & Wesson?) A U.S. marshal shot a New York teenager because he thought a Three Musketeers candy bar was a gun. And in New York, immigrant Amadou Diallo was famously shot 41 times by police when he tried to take out his wallet. (Yes, they thought it was a gun).

Of course, we could ban Walkmans, cell phones, candy bars, beer and wallets. But that would upset cell phone users, who need an excuse to shout in restaurants. And Ted Kennedy would get plenty upset about that candy bar and beer ban.

This leads us to solving all the world’s problems. If the toy gun ban works, imagine the possibilities!

We could prevent traffic accidents by banning Matchbox cars and Tonka Trucks. We could eliminate sexual harassment by banning those unnecessarily voluptuous Barbie dolls. We could prevent economic exploitation by banning Monopoly games. We could eradicate urban sprawl by banning Legos and Lincoln Logs.

And finally, as the legislative grand finale, we could do away with war by banning toy soldiers.

Then we will live in a world of peace, joy, and harmony.

But, alas, our work still wouldn’t be done. We still need to get rid of silly laws—which we could do by banning toy politicians.

Naw. No toy company manufactures politician dolls. Given politicians’ killjoy nature, are you surprised?

(Bill Winter is the editor of the Libertarian Party’s official newspaper, the Libertarian Party News.)

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