“Two young people with toy guns were mistakenly shot dead by police this year – one just 12 years old,” nj.com reminds us. “In both cases, cops thought a fake gun was real. Watch the videos of these incidents to see how easily this happens. A 22-year-old took a fake air rifle off the shelf in Walmart, while yakking on his cell phone. He pointed it at no one. Yet thanks to a false 911 call, police rushed in. He had just enough time to cry out, ‘It’s not real!’ before they shot him dead. In the other incident, also caught on video . . .
a cruiser drove up to a child playing with a fake handgun in a park. Within seconds, police had shot him, too.
It is not insignificant that both victims were black. But we can’t eradicate racial bias in a split-second decision, or expect the cops to give someone holding what looks like a real gun the benefit of the doubt.
A better solution? Make it completely obvious which guns are real.
I know what you’re thinking: cops have shot people reaching for cell phones, their license and registration, wallets and God knows what else. How can you make it “completely” obvious that a gun – or anything in someone’s hand – is a toy? nj.com’s editorial Why Must Toy Guns Look So Real? has the answer!
U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer of California is right: the legally-required orange tips aren’t enough to identify fake guns, and are easily shaved off. Instead, federal law should mandate that all toy guns, including B.B. and pellet guns, be painted a fluorescent color, or carry noticeable florescent strips.
Make them neon green, yellow or orange — and let toys be toys.
The obvious problem with this: bad guys will buy/paint their guns in neon green, yellow or orange. Maybe even NERF them up a bit. Equally, wouldn’t we need a law stopping firearms manufacturers from painting guns in neon green, yellow or orange?
More to the point, does anyone at nj.com have two brain cells to rub together when it comes to thinking about guns?