Council tables vote on toy guns

Carter lacks support to pass ordinance

`Let it look like ... a toy'

$1,000 fine, 90 days in jail possible penalties if OK'd

Annapolis

November 11, 2003|By Jason Song | Jason Song,SUN STAFF

The Annapolis city council agreed last night to postpone voting on a controversial ordinance that would have outlawed realistic-looking toy guns in the city.

Alderwoman Cynthia A. Carter, sponsor of the ordinance, tabled it because she did not have sufficient support for passage. Carter, a Democrat who represents Ward 6, said she would continue to work on the bill and hoped to bring it to a vote soon.

"If it's a toy, let it look like and appear to be a toy," she said. "It's simply out of sync with our reason to give children something that's dangerous."

Before the meeting, many council members said they would not approve the legislation because they believed it was unnecessary and would have infringed on a parent's right to choose toys for their children. But all eight council members present agreed to the postponement.

"This is not an issue that is going to go away," said Mayor Ellen O. Moyer, one of the council's nine members.

Alderman David H. Cordle Sr., the bill's most vocal critic, did not attend last night's meeting.

Carter's ordinance would have outlawed realistic-looking toy guns, and imposed penalties of up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. Carter introduced the bill after a 7-year-old Annapolis boy was arrested in April on allegations that he aimed a toy gun at a video store clerk.

On Oct. 30, a congressional office building was closed for several hours while police searched for a person they believed had brought a real gun into the building. Police later discovered a congressional aide had brought a toy gun into the building.

Carter noted several examples where officers in other parts of the country killed children holding toy guns and worried that such a tragedy could happen in Annapolis. She said that the bill would not affect transparent, brightly colored or other unrealistic-looking toys.

Alderwoman Classie Gillis Hoyle agreed with Carter and said she was concerned that the issue had been trivialized. During public testimony, many residents said they were against the bill. "It's perceived as being a laughing matter," Hoyle said.

Carter did not say when she planned to bring the bill back to the council.

In other matters, several residents spoke out about a proposed resolution, also written by Carter, expressing support for Deborah Williams, the embattled principal of Annapolis High School. Several parents and students have said that Williams is too strict and confrontational and demanded her removal.

Several parents complained to the council last night that Williams is too abrasive, but the principal also had one defender -- Maria Sasso, executive director of ALMAA Inc., an advocacy group for Latinos in Anne Arundel County -- who was appreciative of Williams' efforts to improve the school.

The council is scheduled to vote on the resolution next month.

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