Legislation sponsored by Speaker Emeritus Sheila Oliver and Assembly Democrats Gordon M. Johnson and Mila Jasey to prohibit the sale of toy guns that resemble real firearms was advanced Thursday by an Assembly committee.
“Unfortunately, when a law enforcement officer is called to a scene and has to make a split-second decision, it can be difficult to differentiate between a real weapon and an imitation,” said Oliver (D-Essex/Passaic). “If the officer is wrong in assuming that a toy is a real weapon, it can result in tragedy for a child at play. If the officer hesitates, believing that a real weapon is a toy, it can result in tragedy for the officer. By putting restrictions on the sale of replica weapons, we can get to the root of this disturbing problem.”
The bill (A-1119) would prohibit the sale of toy guns that are substantially similar in appearance, size and shape to genuine firearms and objects or devices that are reasonably capable of being mistaken for firearms.
In order for a toy gun or imitation firearm to be legal for sale under the bill, it must:
- Be a color other than black, blue, silver or aluminum;
- Be marked with a non-removable orange stripe along the length of each side of the barrel; and
- Except in the case of water guns, have a barrel at least one inch in diameter that is closed at a distance of at least one-half inch from the front end of the barrel with the same material from which it is made.
A violation of the bill’s provisions would carry a penalty of up to $500 for the first offense and up to $1,000 for each subsequent offense.
“When the lives of New Jersey residents are at stake, safety always has to be the top priority,” said Johnson (D-Bergen), a former Bergen County sheriff. “The lives lost sadly haven’t convinced retailers to stop selling look-alikes in their stores, but hopefully the notion of having to pay a fine that far exceeds what these imitation guns are even worth will be a deterrent.”
“As a mother and a grandmother, I shudder to think that a child can be playing one moment and dead the next simply because an officer was unable to determine whether a gun was real or a toy,” said Jasey (D-Essex/Morris). “Looking at the spate of recent shooting deaths of young people who have died tragically, it’s imperative to take steps to make it immediately obvious that a toy gun is a toy.”
The measure exempts theatrical firearms approved by the State Police for use as props in movie and film productions.
The bill was advanced by the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee.