- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 13, 2003

Annapolis lawmakers tonight will question the right of residents to bear toy guns.

Alderwoman Cynthia A. Carter proposed a ban after a 7-year-old boy with a toy revolver attempted to rob a Hollywood Video store in April.

The episode and Mrs. Carter’s reaction have sparked a national debate, including invitations for her to speak on radio talk shows around the country.

“Everyone calls [the guns] toys,” she said. “I call them look-alikes. They are not toys.”

Tonight, Mrs. Carter, a Democrat, will present her legislation to the seven other members of the City Council.

“I am confident that I can count on at least four City Council members to support this,” Mrs. Carter said yesterday.

Under Annapolis law, five votes are required to pass legislation.

If passed, the law would ban all toy guns except those that are clear and made of brightly colored plastic.

Offenders could receive a maximum $1,000 fine or 90 days in jail, or both. The law would give prosecutors more leverage against defendants who use toy guns to hold up banks or other establishments, Mrs. Carter said.

No vote is expected until residents can discuss the issue at a public hearing tentatively scheduled for late September.

Louise Hammond, an Annapolis alderwoman and Democrat, said she will have to wait to hear arguments before making a decision. “I will have questions about enforcement, which will be difficult to do,” she said.

Annapolis Mayor Ellen O. Moyer, a Democrat, has declined to comment on the legislation until after it is presented.

Annapolis police told The Washington Times in June that if such a law is enacted, the department would not pull officers off their beats to catch children playing with water pistols and cap guns on neighborhood streets.

Sheila M. Tolliver, another Annapolis alderwoman and Democrat, said it is likely that the legislation will pass, but she is interested in what residents will say at the hearing.

“My immediate impression is that it is for parents to take action, not the legislature,” she said.

She also said parents need to be told about the danger of realistic-looking firearms, she said.

Mrs. Carter said her conviction that too many children are in danger of police mistaking them for dangerous people was strengthened by a Fourth of July incident in which police responded to reports of gunfire, only to find a juvenile playing with a toy gun and the noise was from illegal firecrackers.

“I am just glad the officer used discretion,” she said.

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