Stores Would Face Up to $5,000 for a first-time violation
City Also Launches Public Awareness Campaign About the Dangers of Toy Guns That Look Real and Real Guns That Look Like Toys

City Hall – Speaker Christine C Quinn, together with Council Member Al Vann, today announced legislation that would increase penalties for selling a toy gun by 500 percent. The legislation would also enhance the Department of Consumer Affairs’ enforcement ability and allow the agency to shut stores that are repeat offenders of the law. Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Jonathan Mintz and Criminal Justice Coordinator John Feinblatt joined the Speaker and Council Members at the announcement. The officials also announced a new citywide public awareness campaign about the dangers of toy guns that look real and real guns that look like toys.

Download a copy of the Public Awareness Campaign ad (pdf)
“Despite the fact that New York City’s toy and imitation gun law has been in existence for several years many merchants continue to sell items that resemble real guns,” said Council Speaker Quinn. “Our communities are at risk when they cannot tell a fake toy gun from a real one and the dangers these items present are all too real. Children have been hurt and even killed as a result of these guns being out in our communities.”

The City Council’s Consumer Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on the legislation this afternoon. The proposed bill would increase the fine for a first violation from $1,000 to up to $5,000. It would also increase the fines for subsequent violations within a two year period from $3,000 to up to $8,000. Finally, it would also permit DCA to seal, for up to five days, the premises of a store found guilty of three or more violations within a two year period.

Current law imposes a fine of up to $1,000 but does not increase that amount for subsequent violations. Since 2002, DCA has removed more than 7,200 imitation guns from the shelves of nearly 240 stores throughout the city and levied $2.4 million in fines.

Today, the City also announced a new subway advertising campaign, to be displayed in 2,100 subway cars, all 468 subway stations and more than 5,400 buses. The campaign warns New Yorkers of the dangers of realistic-looking toy guns and the dangers of real guns that are painted to look like toys. The campaign’s advertisements demonstrate potential confusion about gun coloration and warn people that it is illegal either to make a fake gun look real or make a real gun look like a toy. New Yorkers are encouraged to call 311 about either problem. Calls to 311 that concern real guns that look fake will be forwarded to the Police Department’s Gun Stop hotline. Callers can receive a $1,000 reward for information that leads to a conviction and can remain anonymous. The City has received a grant from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services to support the ad campaign.

“Gun violence is plaguing the Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights neighborhoods that I represent, as well as communities across the city and country,” said Council Member Al Vann, prime sponsor of the bill. “When I introduced this legislation, my intentions were also to stem the glorification of guns within our communities, and push the businesses that we patronize to be responsible members of our neighborhoods. I will continue working to address gun violence and its underlying issues. In light of the senseless shooting that occurred in my district Sunday night, it is apparent that we must work more diligently to stem the violence that is afflicting our neighborhoods.”

“There is little debate that realistic-looking toy guns pose a serious threat to the safety and welfare of police officers and New Yorkers as a whole,” stated Deputy Majority Leader Leroy Comrie. “Sadly, violence resulting from toy guns has happened too many times in this city. This bill is a common sense solution to a very serious threat to our safety.”

“Toy guns that look real and real guns that look like toys threaten the safety of our dedicated police officers and our children, especially during this holiday season,” said Criminal Justice Coordinator John Feinblatt. “This public awareness campaign will help to educate the public about the dangers posed by these guns.”

“Imitation firearms that look real are not party items to be wrapped up and given as gifts during the holiday season, and they’re certainly not toys,” said Consumer Affairs Commissioner Jonathan Mintz. “DCA appreciates the Council’s strong and unequivocal message to the City’s retailers who must do right by their customers and their communities by keeping these dangerous items off their shelves forever.”

“With the holiday season in full swing, it is particularly important to bring attention to the fact that toy guns can cause accidents resulting in serious injury or death,” said Council Member Maria del Carmen Arroyo, Co-Chair of the Black, Latino and Asian Caucus. “Time and time again our communities are at risk and at serious danger when someone carries what is perceived to be a fake gun. I want to thank the Speaker and the Administration for strengthening the penalties in hopes that repeat offenders cease to sell improper toy guns.”

“Last month an there was an unfortunate incident in my district where a young teen was shot by police because they mistook his toy gun for a fake one,” said Council Member Larry Seabrook. “We need to hold these toy gun sellers accountable for selling such a heinous product. Our children’s lives are at stake. It is my hope that these penalties will finally deter stores from selling these toys. Our communities need to work together. I ask when they see someone selling bad toy guns or when they see someone concealing a real gun for a fake one to call 311.”

“This legislation will help prevent further violence by deterring businesses from selling toy guns that look real,” said Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito. “The increased regulations created by this bill will not only prevent toy guns from being used to commit crimes, but also will avert children from being wounded or killed by confused police officers who mistake their toy for a real gun.”

“Harlem Mothers S.A.V.E. fully supports the action to increase penalties for store owners who are repeat offenders of the law and we agree that the city should have the authority to shut down such establishments and prevent their further endangering lives of our children and safety of community, said Jackie Rowe Adams, Co-founder.

Under New York City’s Public Safety Law, it is against the law to sell or offer to sell any toy or imitation firearm that can reasonably be perceived to be an actual firearm unless the exterior surface of the toy or imitation firearm is predominantly brightly colored. The range of acceptable colors includes white, bright red, bright orange, bright yellow, bright green, bright blue, bright pink or bright purple.