Baltimore City Council gave a replica gun ban the final stamp of approval last week.
Councilman James Kraft sponsored the legislation in September “to protect the city’s youth” five months after police officers shot 14-year-old Dedric Colvin in the shoulder and leg on a street in East Baltimore. Colvin was carrying a BB gun officers said resembled a semiautomatic pistol.
“It’s something that we should do for the safety of our children,” City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young told the Baltimore Sun last month. “We’re getting stores robbed with replicas. We’ve got people running around with these things and they almost look real. … I don’t think we should be allowing replica guns in the city of Baltimore, especially with the murder rate we have.”
Similar incidents have unfolded across the country over the last three years, spawning bans in cities like Boston, New York and Chicago. In September, police officers in Columbus, Ohio, shot and killed 13-year-old Tyree King after the teen pulled a BB gun from his waistband during questioning over a reported armed robbery in the area.
The City Council bill punishes possession of replicas — including BB guns, air rifles and pellet guns — with a $250 fine for first offenses and a $1,000 fine for all subsequent offenses. Repeat offenders who are caught more than twice with the replicas face a misdemeanor charge and a maximum 30-day jail sentence.
Opponents of the bill argue it’s a waste of money and would criminalize residents for the possession of “otherwise perfectly legal toys.”
City council approved the bill during a Dec. 5 meeting. The city council’s website shows the mayor signed it the same day. It takes effect 30 days after enactment, according to the bill’s language.