Baltimore City Councilman James B. Kraft has introduced new legislation that could put a city-wide ban on replica and toy guns. The Democrat believes that the proposed ban will “get the replica guns off the streets” and reduce the number of accidental shootings by city police. Kraft believes that the ban will also benefit police officers that are forced to use deadly force when city youths point the realistic looking toy weapons at police officers.
The proposed legislation comes just days after a black teenager with a fake gun was shot and killed by police in Ohio. The bill has gained support from Democratic Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. She has shown support for the bill in its current form but would like to see changes made that hold toy gun makers and sellers liable for incidents that occur in which a toy they manufactured is involved. Meaning if a child pulls a toy handgun on a police officer and the officer is forced to use deadly force the company that manufactured the weapon will be penalized.
The bill currently only calls for individuals caught carrying or brandishing toy handguns within city limits to be fined. The first fine will cost the individual $250. Additional offenses raise the fine as high as $1000.
The bill has also gained support from City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young. A spokesman speaking on behalf of Young claims that he is supporting the bill because it “gives the police another tool to make sure we protect kids.”
The Washington Post reports that 60 people have been shot for pointing toy guns at police officers since 2015. All three Democrats that have voiced support for the bill have failed to provide a satisfactory answer as to how fining children, who conceal toy guns and only make them visible when pointing them at police officers, will prevent further incidents. The bill has been criticized for being reactionary rather than proactive.
Opponents of the bill argue that, just like with real guns, criminals will continue their delinquent behavior while law abiding citizens will be negatively affected by the legislation.