From the 1940s to the 1980s, toymakers competed to market the most realistic looking, sounding and feeling weapons, says the Washington Post. Now, the list of incidents in which police have shot kids who turned out to be wielding toys is soberingly long, most recently the killing of Tamir Rice, 12, in Cleveland. The Post says toy guns are in critical condition, fading fast. Few can be found in the aisles of local Toys R Us stores.
Toy guns still sell by the millions, although the Daisy companies sales “aren't what they once were” in urban and suburban America, says Joe Murfin of Arkansas-based Daisy Outdoor Products. In rural areas, he says, “there's still good growth.” Toy and BB gun sales are “a red-state phenomenon now,” says Gary Cross, a Penn State University historian who sees a simultaneous decline in hunting culture and in “these old concepts of masculinity.”