If Toys Are Criminal, Only Criminals Will Have Toys: Michigan Moves To Make Possession A Crime . . . Of Toy Guns

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.

I have written about the desire of children, particularly boys, to play with toy weapons (here and here).

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.

Source: CBS

21 thoughts on “If Toys Are Criminal, Only Criminals Will Have Toys: Michigan Moves To Make Possession A Crime . . . Of Toy Guns”

  1. What are they going to do when criminals decide to dip the tips of the real guns in orange paint?

  2. TOY guns? The intent of the constitution and all the ammendments was to secure the individual liberties of all the people from the arbitrary and tyrannical interference from the government into our individual pusuits of happiness .This is a most intrusive type of overregulation and micromanagement. Where are they drawing the line today? Nerf guns? Super Soakers? A Lego rifle? A bent stick? Are they going to require my 7-year-old to get a concealed pointer-finger carrying permit? He’s always packing his.(he could probably get one, his record is clean)

    P.S. ” – and his colleague Burgermeister Meisterburger.” cracked me up more than anything I’ve read in a long time. Thanks for that.

  3. I don’t understand this – isn’t the crime in the act and not the tool? It doesn’t matter if the gun is unloaded, is just a realistic toy, or even just a finger in a coat jacket since the only thing that matters is that it’s presented as a weapon during the commission of a crime.

    The only way this makes sense to me is if they want a stacking charge instead of just an aggravating circumstance, and you would only want that if you’re trying to force people to accept plea bargains instead of fighting 47 different felonies (commission of a crime while using a fake gun, commission of a crime while showing a scary tattoo, commission of a crime while wearing ‘gang colors’ (which include, but are not limited to, red, blue, green, yellow, orange, purple, black and white), etc.

  4. Julie,

    The republicans have control of the house, senate another governors office… I am unaware that Michigans prisons are privatized.

  5. Please dont tell me that democrates are trying to get rid of our guns! Its the Republicans! Come on. He claims he worried about southeast mi. Hes from Up North. We dont have the room in our jails. Maybe he knows the people who own the prisons. Since there all privitized!

  6. And just now in Virginia another bill, on hold because of controversy, would loosen the regulations on acquiring a gun.

    Just shows the FF were wise dividing up the jurisdictionsinto states, so as to not allow idiotic laws to rule over the whole nation.

    How can that be said? Well examination of the Constitution, and its first hundred years or so, shows that any other powers to be exercised by the federal government required AMENDMENTS to be added.

  7. I was just startled (as a long-time annual passholder at Disneyland) to hear the familiar voice of Paul Frees (narrator of most of the Disney rides) coming out of a law blog.

  8. If the Second Amendment to the Constitution says that we have the right to arm bears … then why are humanoids put on a lessor footing than bears?

  9. “He points to a recent case where a gang member was killed by an officer after pointing a toy gun at a police officer.”

    I fail to see the problem here. If you’re stupid enough to bring a toy to a gun fight then you deserve what you get. Kind of a version of the Darwin awards.

    This whole thing is absurd. There’s just no end to the mindless meddling of the legislatures out there.

  10. Let me get this straight– we cannot ban real guns or even
    enact reasonable gun control but we can come together to ban toy guns. It is truely distressing what legislatures across this
    country are doing with their time.

  11. Raff,

    I for one can tell you the law enforcement agency’s have all of the laws on the books that they need….. This is the most prosecution friendly state that has ever existed that does not also have the death penalty…..

    I recall a person being strapped to a gurney, drunk mind you… Did not want a blood draw…even with a valid warrant….. They convicted the defendant of resisting and obstructing a police officer….for failure to allow the nurse to get the sample…. Tell me that’s not over kill….the nurse was the details facto leo…..

  12. This seems like it would yield to a simpler solution. If you just make the penalties for using a toy gun the same as for a real one the problem is solved. After all the victim can’t be expected to make the distinction while under duress.

    UNLESS – if a criminal used a toy because it would get him a lighter sentence that advantage would be gone so passing that law would make it more likely a criminal would have a real gun. That would make robberies more dangerous than they are now.

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