- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 18, 2003

ANNAPOLIS — Residents had mixed reactions yesterday to a city lawmaker’s push for a statute that would ban children from playing outdoors with most toy guns and fine parents of the pistol-packing tots.

Some parents said keeping realistic-looking toy guns away from children could curb violent behavior and stop police from making a fatal mistake.

“My children will say to me that ‘It’s fake, it’s not real,’” said Dina Olmo, who has two sons. “But they represent the real thing and violence.”

Yet others said they and their friends grew up playing cops and robbers and military games, and that fake weapons did not lead them to violent lifestyles. They also said the legislation would be unfair to parents.

“That’s ridiculous,” said Kevin Morgan, 40, of Bowie. “Are they going to go after the person who bought her kid a cowboy holster?”

Mr. Morgan said his sons, who are 18, 17, 12, played with toy guns when they were younger, just as he did, “day and night.”

He also said such rigidity makes it clear why kids today prefer entertaining themselves with video games instead of playing outside.

Alderwoman Cynthia A. Carter, Democrat, has said the law would ban all toy guns except for clear or brightly colored ones. She plans to introduce the legislation next month.

Her effort, for which she expects full support from the seven other aldermen, is in response to a 7-year-old boy who took a silver-colored toy revolver into a Hollywood Video last month and told employees he would hold up the store. The gun barrel lacked an orange tip, which would have tipped off employees that it was fake.

Scott Green, 32, said guns can be mistaken as real, and that the United States is an armed and violent culture, but he doesn’t think legislators should enact laws on child’s play.

He instead thinks toy manufacturers should make guns that are more easily identifiable as fake. When Mr. Green was a child, he said, toys looked more realistic.

“I think the manufacturers are going to learn they can’t keep doing it,” he said. “When I was growing up, I loved to play with guns. I was a typical little boy. I think society has changed — with more violence.”

Lynn Golb, 70, said yesterday police officers are busy enough enforcing the law and they should not have to worry about children playing guns with their friends. He also said police have no problem recognizing fake guns most of the time, but he acknowledged that some dangerous neighborhoods may be of concern.

Annapolis Police Department officials have said that if Mrs. Carter’s law were enacted, officers would not be pulled off the streets to look for children playing games with toy guns.

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