A juvenile court official in Maryland is pushing for legislation to ban the sale of toy guns, which she says puts children in danger and contributes to gun violence in the area.
Zakia Mahasa, master in Baltimore’s juvenile courts, used a recent incident involving two young boys to try to prove her point.
“The boy pulled out a pistol, pointed it at another boy, and the other boy started running. So, of course, he says his heart went in his mouth because it looked like a gun,” Mahasa told a local news station.
Federal law requires that toy guns have an orange tip to distinguish them from their genuine counterparts. According to Mahasa, the orange tip of the boy’s fake gun had been removed.
Reporters went to the local corner store in the neighborhood, which sells the toy guns, to discuss the issue of gun violence and the impact that these toys are having on the local children. The store owner was willing to talk with the media from behind the confines of his bulletproof glass counter, but he admitted that he didn’t see anything wrong with the toys.
And the toy guns are popular with the young residents. The store owner told reporters that just earlier that day two kids, about 5 or 6 years old, had come in to buy two of them. In fact, the remnants of the opened packages still lingered on the sidewalk outside of the store, a sign that, according to the reporter, “as if whoever bought them couldn’t wait to pretend they were armed.” Or perhaps the trash left outside of the corner store already shows the sheer disrespect the children, at such a young age, already have for their neighborhood.
Not everyone is convinced that these toys are – well, just toys. “Because there is so much gun violence, I abhor the situation. Water guns, any guns, I’m serious,” one resident said, apparently implying that the toys somehow contribute to the violent activity in the neighborhood.
“To me, doing what I do is not a question of if but when somebody is going to die. Some little child is going to die, or somebody is going to use that in the commission of a robbery. It looks that real,” Mahasa said.
Of course, Mahasa is right. Children and adults alike have already used toy guns in commission of crimes, and yes, sometimes the incidents end in fatalities. However, these sometimes very real looking guns aren’t just used in questionable activities either, sometimes they’re actually used to ward off criminals.
So who’s to say what the right call is? Will banning these toy guns help to cut down on crime in Baltimore and make for more peaceful neighborhoods?