Major retailers assailed over realistic toy guns

Walmart, Amazon.com and other retailers were told by New York's Attorney General on Thursday to stop selling realistic toy guns -- something prohibited in that state and others.

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman sent cease and desist letters to Sears, Walmart, Amazon.com, Kmart, and ToyArsenal.com demanding that they halt sales of these guns to New Yorkers.

"When toy guns are mistaken for real guns, there can be tragic consequences," Schneiderman said in a statement. "New York State law is clear: retailers cannot put children and law enforcement at risk by selling toy guns that are virtually indistinguishable from the real thing."

The demand from Schneiderman comes weeks after 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot to death by police in Cleveland after he was seen holding what turned out to be an air gun purchased at Walmart. Federal law requires fake guns to be painted with bright colors on the end.

New York law prohibits the sale of guns that look real using "realistic colors such as black, blue, silver, or aluminum, unless it has a non-removable one-inch-wide orange stripe running down both sides of the barrel and the front end of the barrel," according to the Attorney General's office. Schneiderman said the concern remains that these fake guns could be mistaken for real ones and lead to yet another tragedy.

Four people have been killed in New York since 1997, and one child was seriously injured, after police believed toy guns they were holding were real.

Retailers that were selling fake guns without the bright markings appear to largely halted their sales in New York stores, Schneiderman's office said. However, online sales have continued.

  • Mitch Lipka On Twitter» On Facebook»

    Mitch Lipka is an award-winning consumer columnist. He was in charge of consumer news for AOL's personal finance site and was a senior editor at Consumer Reports. He was also a reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, among other publications.