The battle over gun safety versus gun rights has recently taken another turn towards the surreal. It all started when the mayor of New York made it illegal to paint a firearm to make it look like a toy. It appears that some unsavory types were attempting to disguise the weapons by spray painting them to look like a prop or toy. It seemed like a reasonable measure. Unfortunately, gun proponents disagreed.

Gunmakers, angered by the mayor’s new law, have begun marketing a straightforward response: They’ve started producing real guns that look like toys straight off the assembly line. I’m not kidding. (And the NRA wonders why safety advocates are so critical of their industry.) What’s after kids, child-friendly grips? These new firearms, painted in bright colors and labeled with cheerful paint coatings such as “watermelon red” have begun to hit the market.

Guns in hot-rod red, caramel apple green, bright purple, bright yellow, hot pink, and all kinds of other kid-friendly colors are being bought and astroshot sold as we speak. Some even have a little cartoon decal, meant to make fun of the mayor, but all too much like something you might find on a toy car or skateboard. Of course, this is more than a little worrying for us.

This means a couple of things for your kids:

The police will become paranoid and the chances of an officer mistaking a juvenile joke for a real threat are greater than ever. It might be a good time to sit down with your kids and talk to them again about the importance of never pointing anything out to a police officer. This is especially important for teenagers. One playful gesture is all it takes to turn an ordinary day into a tragedy, and if you’ve read the news recently, some trigger-happy cops in many areas seem to have a hard time distinguishing plastic soda bottles or yellow magic gun markers as well. ‘is.

More importantly, gun manufacturers may also have put a ribbon and lollipop on their merchandise along with a sign that says “play with me”. To a child (who may or may not know how to tell a real gun from a fake gun) these firearms look like water guns or toy props. They are, by design and intent, made to resemble a toy. They are inviting the children. Numerous firearm tragedies (perhaps 20-30% of those involving children) begin with the same problem: A child finds a gun and assumes it is not real.

They do what they could do with a toy gun … point it at a friend and shoot him as a joke. The chances of a child finding one of these new weapons and mistaking it for a toy are great, so make sure YOUR child knows that the bright colors and childish look don’t mean it’s not a real gun. He teaches them to never, ever play with a gun or hang around while a friend is playing with a gun. If there is any question, don’t touch it and find an adult. Take this time to review gun safety with the many resources for children we have available on our website.

Perhaps after a tragedy occurs, gun manufacturers may realize that making guns that look like toys wasn’t a good idea. We hope they take off their pants in the process. Meanwhile, it’s a new twist on a long-standing threat. Make sure your kids are aware of this.

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