Laws banning the sale of toy guns – like one poised to pass in Dallas – are futile and do not prevent accidental police shootings, says a criminologist who studied the issue for the federal government, reports the Dallas Morning News. A person’s behavior matters more to police than whether someone brandishes a fake weapon, says David Carter, a Michigan State University professor who directed the study in the 1980s. In the dark, said officers, many things could look like a gun – a wallet, a beer bottle, a cellphone. “They would see something; the size and the color made no difference whatsoever,” Carter said. “The officer is looking at the behavior of the individual. “Simple solutions are usually just that, simple. And they just don’t work.”
Dallas’s proposed law may restrict the sale of realistic-looking toy guns and outlaw children from playing with them in public. It may also require that toy guns be brightly colored or clear plastic. The ordinance will be discussed today by the city’s Public Safety Committee. It is expected to be approved by the City Council in August. Similar ordinances have been passed in three Texas cities in recent years, as well as in Baltimore; Hartford, Ct., and Akron, Ohio. “I didn’t realize we had these realistic-looking toy guns on our streets,” said Dallas City Council member Mitchell Rasansky. “They’re dangerous, and they’re a disaster just waiting to happen.” Members of the Dallas community group Weed & Seed say the toys have been sold by ice cream truck vendors, at popular bazaars, and in general merchandise dollar stores.