Annapolis council set to vote on toy gun ban

Proposal focuses on items that look like real firearms

November 10, 2003|By Jason Song | Jason Song,SUN STAFF

The Annapolis city council is scheduled to decide tonight whether to ban the sale and possession of real-looking toy guns in the city.

The proposed ordinance, introduced by Democratic Alderwoman Cynthia Abney Carter, would bar any toy "which substantially duplicates or can reasonably be perceived to be an actual firearm." Offenders could be fined up to $1,000 or jailed for up to 90 days.

Carter, who represents Ward 6, said she planned to add an amendment to exclude toys that are transparent, brightly colored or otherwise don't resemble firearms.

Carter introduced the bill after a 7-year-old Annapolis boy was arrested on allegations that he pointed a toy gun at a video store clerk in April. The boy was charged with attempted armed robbery.

On Oct. 30, a congressional office building was shut down for several hours while police searched for someone they thought had brought a real gun into the building. Police later discovered that person was a congressional staffer who was carrying a toy gun she planned on taking to a Halloween party.

"People lost a lot of time and money that day, and it could have been avoided," Carter said. "It only hits home when people start panicking."

Carter also said she was concerned that police might shoot a child who was carrying a real-looking toy gun. "I know some people aren't taking it seriously, but we're talking about saving people's lives," she said.

Some city council members said they support the bill. "I generally like it," said Alderwoman Classie Gilles Hoyle, a Democrat who represents Ward 3.

But many of the residents who addressed the bill during public comment periods were against it, and some city council members say they are staunchly opposed. Alderman David H. Cordle Sr., a Republican from Ward 5, called the bill "fluff" that would interfere with parental rights.

Cordle also believes the bill is unenforceable. "It's just symbolic and doesn't get to the real problem," he said.

Alderman Josh Cohen, a Democrat from Ward 8, said he would not support the bill. "The proposal is the wrong solution to the problem," he said.

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