Michigan legislators are moving to make possession of toy guns a crime. The legislation by members is based on the growing practice of criminals cutting off the orange tips and using the toy guns in crime. This way, presumably, they will go and get real guns for their crimes?
The legislation was proposed by State Senator Republican Rick Jones — and his colleague Burgermeister Meisterburger. Jones says “People are taking imitation firearms that look real, cutting off the orange end and then threatening people.” He points to a recent case where a gang member was killed by an officer after pointing a toy gun at a police officer.
There are various well-based laws that require toy guns to have distinctive markings — and those laws can be strengthened. While I am less concerned about a gang member pointing a toy gun at a police officer (since he was presumably trying to threaten the officer with the fake gun), there are shootings of children that were caused by their pointing real-looking toy guns at officers. Those shootings have declined in the wake of the new laws.
While I am sympathetic with the concerns, I do not believe that this is a wise response. The state is creating a law that could make criminals out of children and families in possessing a common toy. Toy guns are sold throughout the country and children will bring them to Michigan. That will create an arbitrary basis for enforcement and an artificial barrier for toys at the Michigan border.
The prior effort at such a law proved hugely unsuccessful . . .
Supporters of the proposed legislation have also cited a recent case where a police officer was forced to shoot a gang member who was aiming a toy gun without its required markings. Jones believes this proposal will be vital in preventing incidents such as this from occurring in the future.
“This is an important package to control this problem,” Jones said.
If the legislation is passed, people who possess these toy guns and use it to commit a felony, would be punishable for up to 18 months behind bars and be subject to fines.