St. Paul may ban brandishing realistic toy guns in public, says the St. Paul Pioneer Press. A draft law would allow people to display toy guns only if they are white or a bright color such as yellow, orange, or pink. Imitation toy Berettas would be banned, but Super Soakers would be OK. The measure’s backers say realistic toy guns can be as dangerous as actual firearms. In the heat of the moment, they say police officers often can’t tell fake guns from real ones. “I think we will really be leading the nation in how we deal with these nonlethal firearms,” said Council Member Lee Helgen.
Nonlethal weapons would be required to have a blaze orange extension sticking out at least six millimeters beyond the muzzle. Federal law requires the extensions, but kids frequently remove them. Attached laser pointers would be banned. Nationwide, there have been a number of shootings by police involving replica handguns. Police often have to make snap judgments about using deadly force, and police departments have supported similar laws elsewhere. Last year, there were at least eight fatalities across the country involving suspects brandishing toy guns or rifles at police. Sue Fust of Citizens for a Safer Minnesota said incidents frequently involve children who don’t know better: “Kids don’t understand it. They don’t think about the consequences.”