The Corner

Congressional Answer to Yesterday’s Circus

A “Dear Colleague” letter that’s just gone out on the Hill:

October 31, 2003

Ban Realistic Looking Toy Guns

Cosponsor H.R. 211

Dear Colleague:

The recent toy gun incident that closed the offices on Capitol Hill for two hours was another reminder that the problems of toy guns are real. The fact that a toy gun could close down one of the most heavily guarded buildings in the country shows how much trouble one toy gun can cause. While this misunderstanding was resolved without anyone losing his or her life, toy guns can and have resulted in fatal shootings.

When toy guns look real, in the eyes of law enforcement, they are real. Police officers have to make split second decisions and often do not have the opportunity to distinguish a real gun from a toy. In fact, past studies show that every year hundreds of crimes are committed using toy guns. It seems that the only thing toy guns accomplish is to make it easier to commit a crime or wet kids appetite for a real gun when they get older. They serve no purpose in society and should be banned.

That is why I have introduced H.R. 211 which would ban toys which in size, shape, or overall appearance resemble real handguns.

In 1988, Congress tried to ban toy handguns by requiring that all toy handguns be marked with bright orange at the muzzle or made of a transparent or bright color to distinguish from real weapons. However, an evaluation by the National Institute of Justice determined that the marking system failed to enable police officers to identify the weapon as a toy.

I have sponsored toy gun trade-in days at local schools and churches to offer an educational toy in exchange for toy guns. Hundreds of toy guns have been turned in through this program and it has helped make parents aware of the real problems that toy guns pose. But more needs to be done.

If you would like to cosponsor this important bill or need any additional information, please contact Andrew Delia, of my staff at xx-xxxx.


Edolphus “Ed” Towns

Member of Congress


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