Political Bickering About "Replica Guns"

Updated 1998/04/30

Between 1987 and 1990, there was a rash of well-publicized shootings across the US in which police shot and sometimes killed children who were playing with toy guns. Yes indeedy, this is still in progress. I'm gonna finish this. Honest and for true. Comments welcome. References very welcome.

Interesting news. About 6 months ago, I received the following email from someone claiming to be the county prosecutor in Teton County, Idaho. I did some phoning around and verified the sender. I also managed to weasel some information out of the sherriffs who were investigating the case. Seemed like a perfectly normal case here, in which some kids were playing with these guns and got shot by a cop. I wasn't able to find out whether or not the kids brandished the guns at the cops (the usual case) but the case should be sufficiently stale by now that I can find out. The sherriffs were still investigating when I talked to them, so they weren't able to say too much.

I've removed the email addresses from the mail so that you guys don't harrass her for being a blazing moron.

Date: Tue, 07 Oct 1997 12:39:05 -0600
From: "Nancy G. Schwartz"
Organization: Teton County Prosecutor
X-Mailer: Mozilla 2.02E-KIT  (Win95; U)
MIME-Version: 1.0
To: sinster@darkwater.com
Subject: Fatalities due to toy guns
X-URL: http://www.darkwater.com/sinster/essays/airsoft.html
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit

I am the County Prosecutor for Teton County, Idaho.  I am currently 
involved in a case in which the parties involved do not understand the 
seriousness of children and toy guns.  Could you possibly send me any 
information you have gathered on this subject?  I would really 
appreciate it. My e-mail address is xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

I'm going to be very interested to see which side of the case she took. From her email she seems to believe that children shouldn't be allowed to play with toy guns in preference to teaching them not to brandish at a cop.

The law is California Penal Code 417.2, and reads:

417.2.  (a) Commencing January 1, 1989, any person who purchases,
sells, manufactures, ships, transports, distributes, or receives, by
mail order or in any other manner, an imitation firearm in violation
of this section shall be liable for a civil fine in an action brought
by the city attorney of the city or the district attorney of the
county of not more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000) for each
   (b) The manufacture, purchase, sale, shipping, transport,
distribution, or receipt, by mail or in any other manner, of
imitation firearms is permitted if the device is manufactured,
purchased, sold, shipped, transported, distributed, or received for
any of the following purposes:
   (1) Solely for export in interstate or foreign commerce.
   (2) Solely for lawful use in theatrical productions, including
motion picture, television, and stage productions.
   (3) For use in a certified or regulated athletic event or
   (4) For use in military or civil defense activities.
   (5) For public displays authorized by public or private schools.
   (c) As used in this section, "imitation firearm" means a replica
of a firearm that is so substantially similar in physical properties
to an existing firearm as to lead a reasonable person to conclude
that the replica is a firearm.
   (d) As used in this section, "imitation firearm" does not include
any of the following:
   (1) A nonfiring collector's replica of an antique firearm that was
designed prior to 1898, is historically significant, and is offered
for sale in conjunction with a wall plaque or presentation case.
   (2) A nonfiring collector's replica of a firearm that was designed
after 1898, is historically significant, was issued as a
commemorative by a nonprofit organization, and is offered for sale in
conjunction with a wall plaque or presentation case.
   (3) A device, as defined in subdivision (g) of Section 12001.
   (4) A firearm that contains, or has affixed to it, a marking
approved by the Secretary of Commerce, as provided in Section 5001 of
Title 15 of the United States Code.
   (5) An instrument that expels a metallic projectile, such as a BB
or pellet, through the force of air pressure, CO2 pressure, or spring
action, or a spot marker gun.

Jon Paul Nollmann sinster@ballistictech.net