Toy weapons are increasingly being used to commit real crimes, and more children are being killed when a toy gun is mistaken for a real gun. Consider the following alarming facts about toy guns, crimes, and children being killed:
1. On June 21, 1997, an entire terminal at Los Angeles International Airport was evacuated, grounding at least 15 flights, when a cigarette lighter shaped like a pistol was mistaken for a real gun.
2. On March 1st, 1997, a 6 year-old boys toy gun caused the evacuation of the San Jose International Airport, in California. More than 20 flights were affected.
3. On November 4, 1995, in National City ( South of San Diego), Johnny Angel Navarrete, an 18-year boy was shot in front of his house after an argument with several youth. When he pulled a replica gun (a cigarette lighter) from his waistband that looked like a real gun, another youth pulled out his real gun, and shot him thinking the lighter was genuine. Johnny died two days later.
4. On Memorial Day, May 29, 1995 in Carson Park, California, Freddy Palacio, a 12 year old, was shot twice by a Los Angeles County Sheriffs deputy who mistook the $2 toy gun for a .22 caliber pistol.
5. On Sunday, April 2, 1995, in the City of Terrace, California, 18 year old Santiago Lopez Garcia was shot to death by the police because he had a cigarette lighter, which resembled a gun in his hand. ( Ironically this was the same day that we were collecting the toy guns, and educating the children about danger of toy guns and real guns, in another park, only a few miles away).
6. On April 3, 1995, police almost shot at Robert Alvarez, a 28 year old man, in East LA.. because he had a lighter the shape of a semiautomatic pistol. He was arrested and charged with suspected brandishing of a firearm on a public thoroughfare.
7. In October of 1994, Nicholas Heyward Jr., a 13 year old boy, and straight A student of Brooklyn, NY, was shot in the chest and killed by a police officer when he was playing with his toy gun.
8. Jamiel Johnson, a 16 year old boy, was shot and wounded on the same day, and in the same city as above.
9. In 1994, toy guns were reportedly used in 329 felonies in New York alone.
10. In 1991, a 3 year old boy was shot and killed by his grandfather in Northern California, while playing, and by mistake using his real gun instead of his grandsons toy gun.
11. In 1987, Leonard Falcon, a 19 year old boy from Rancho Cucamonga was shot and killed by a San Bernardino County Sheriffs deputy while playing with laser tag gun, which resembled a real gun.
12. In 1983, a 5 year old boy was shot and killed by an Orange County police officer because he was holding a toy gun.
13. Studies show that most children younger than 8 can't reliably distinguish a toy gun from a real gun.(Ms., May/June 1994, Vol IV, No. 6, P. 40-41).
14. The most recent tragedy, involving toy guns, occurred November 5, 1997, in which an explosion of a machine wrapping popping caps for toy guns and play hand grenades at the Imperial Toy Factory in downtown Los Angeles, claimed the life of four innocent female workers (Juana Martinez Gonzalez, 33, Maria Valenzuela, 39, Gloria Jaramilo, 26). The explosion also injured about two dozen others and several were hospitalized.
Dr. Farideh Kioumehr-Dadsetan