Burbank Proposal : Ban Is Sought on Toys That Look Like Guns

Times Staff Writer

Burbank Mayor Michael Hastings said Tuesday he will propose an ordinance to ban the sale within the city's limits of toy guns that resemble actual firearms.

The ordinance would make it a misdemeanor for a retailer to sell toy guns that are "reasonable" replicas of actual guns, City Atty. Douglas C. Holland said.

"We're talking about the higher-priced guns you can get at your finer toy stores that look exactly like real guns," Holland said. "That would include squirt guns that look like real guns, but have been downsized for smaller hands."

Holland said the ordinance would also prohibit BB guns and air guns. A retailer would face either a six-month jail term or a $500 fine, or both.

If passed, the ordinance would be the first such law passed by a city, and would be a step in halting a series of incidents where toy guns have been used in crimes or brandished on freeways, Hastings said.

Orange County Ordinance

The proposal goes beyond an ordinance approved Tuesday by the Orange County Board of Supervisors that makes it illegal for a person to brandish a toy weapon in a threatening manner or during a crime. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors recently passed a similar ordinance.

"It's about time for a law like this," Hastings said. "A voluntary ban doesn't work. This is to protect the health and safety of all."

Hastings said he is sponsoring the ordinance because of incidents involving young children who were shot by police who could not tell if the guns the children were brandishing were real or fake.

The City Council is scheduled to vote on the proposal at Tuesday's meeting.

The proposal has the support of KNBC consumer advocate David Horowitz, who was forced to read a rambling statement by a man wielding a toy gun during a newscast last month. Horowitz said he was convinced the toy gun was authentic.

'Send A Message'

"This kind of ordinance would send a message to the manufacturers of these replicas," Horowitz said. "We're not saying that kids should not have toy guns. We're talking about these authentic replicas, the guns made popular by Rambo and other characters."

A spokesman for the Daisy Manufacturing Co. of Rogers, Ark., which distributes replica Uzis, M-16s and AK-47s, said his firm would not oppose the proposal.

"Obviously, the city has to do what it feels is appropriate," said John Ford, manager of special market programs for Daisy. "We feel we have done what we can do to identify toy guns as toy guns."

Ford said that, by the beginning of 1988, the company will begin marking the barrels of its toy military and paramilitary guns with fluorescent orange paint. He said there will also be warning stickers.

Hastings may have trouble getting unanimous approval of the ordinance from his fellow council members. Two, Mary Kelsey and Al Dossin, said they are skeptical of the proposal.

"To ban the sale of toy guns in Burbank would not be the wisest thing," Kelsey said. "Lots of people let their kids play with guns. Little boys are brought up on them. I think we should let the state enact a statewide law to take care of this kind of thing."

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