Activists urge ban on realistic toy guns, to prevent America-style tragedies

RIA Novosti / Konstantin Chalabov
A Public Chamber member is asking Russian lawmakers to ban the sales of toys that look like real firearms, saying that such move would prevent abuse by criminals and police mistakes that result in tragedies.

Vladimir Slepak of the Public Chamber committee for social politics addressed the Upper House chair, Valentina Matviyenko, and requested a change in the laws that regulate the production and sale of toys. In particular, the activist suggests imposing a ban on all realistic copies of firearms and other weapons, similar to restrictions that have already been adopted by some US states, Brazil, Venezuela and a number of other nations.

In his letter, quoted by the Izvestia daily, Slepak referred to statistic reports saying that up to 10 percent of robberies all over the world are committed with use of replica guns. Russian police also report such incidents and criminals often leave the toy weapons at the scene of their crimes.

The activist also noted that existing Russian laws allow policemen to use lethal force against people who threaten citizens with firearms and use objects resembling firearms. This could eventually lead to incidents when law enforcers kill teenagers who appear in public with toy guns, similar to incidents that occasionally happen in the United States.

READ MORE: Police shot dead boy, 13, holding toy rifle

Examples include a tragedy in Cleveland, Ohio, in 2014 when policemen shot and killed a 12-year old boy playing with an airsoft gun, and a 2013 incident in Sonoma County, California, where police killed a 13-year old boy in similar circumstances.

However, the head of the Association of Children’s Products Industry, Antonina Tsitsulina, said in comments to Izvestia that currently replica guns are not certified as toys, but as souvenirs or collectors’ items.The lobbyist also shared her personal opinion that the ban on toy weapons was useless.