- The Washington Times - Monday, November 10, 2003

ANNAPOLIS — Children in Annapolis may continue to play with their toy guns — at least for a while.

Alderman Cynthia Carter, a Democrat, chose last night to postpone voting on legislation to ban toy guns from the city rather than allow the City Council to strike it down.

Mrs. Carter said she will rewrite the legislation and attempt to gain support from law enforcement before introducing it again.

“I didn’t think this would be as hard as it is, and that safety would not be the main issue,” Mrs. Carter said at last night’s meeting. She said most were more concerned with whether the government should take a position on the issue than they were about public safety.

Mrs. Carter cited several incidents in which children had been injured or killed because their toy guns were mistaken for real guns.

“We should not wait around for something to happen,” she said. “I’m sorry that I didn’t have the support of this council, or the support of the community at large.”

Mrs. Carter introduced the legislation in June, but after a public hearing last month, she did not think enough of her colleagues were convinced the law was a good thing.

Alderman Louise Hammond and Alderman Joshua Cohen, both Democrats, were outspoken opponents of the bill.

The legislation would prohibit any person from possessing, selling or transporting a toy gun, other than brightly colored or clear plastic guns, within Annapolis city limits.

Mrs. Carter said toy guns that look like real ones become deadly when police mistake them for the real thing.

Anyone caught with a toy gun would be fined a maximum of $1,000 or could spend 90 days in jail or both.

“I don’t think it can be enforced,” Mrs. Hammond said before last night’s meeting when the bill was scheduled to be voted on. “I don’t think this is the right way to go.”

Mrs. Hammond said she has already made recommendations to Mrs. Carter about what to do with toy guns. “This needs to be dealt with on the federal level,” she said.

The legislation would have needed support from a simple majority to become law.

Last month, seven members of the community voiced their objections to the legislation at a public hearing. One lobbyist spoke in favor of the ban.

“We need a law, like the seat-belt law, to protect children against these guns,” Mrs. Carter said.

Alderman Classie G. Hoyle, a Democrat, also supports a toy-gun ban.

“I think this is an important matter. It has been perceived as a laughing matter, but this is no laughing matter,” she said last night. “We do not have to allow our children to play cops and robbers to have their childhood.”

Mayor Ellen O. Moyer, a Democrat, agreed. “This is an issue that is not going to go away,” she said. “We need to deal with it. It will be postponed until we can work with police and rewrite this.”


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