August 14, 2006, 11:32 AM
This is a call to all Dallasites to contact your city representative - if
you can call them that - and express you dismay at the propossed
toy gun laws.
You can find their contact info below.
August 15, 2006, 12:05 AM
Game over for toy guns in heart of the old west
· America's most dangerous city plans ban on replicas
· Critics say measure will criminalise nostalgia
Richard Luscombe in Miami
Traditional playground games such as cowboys and Indians in the heart of America's old wild west are facing high noon after a proposal to outlaw toy guns.
Alarmed by rising gun crime in Dallas, named the most dangerous city in America by the FBI, and by shootings nationwide by police of offenders carrying toy weapons, councillors have advanced a plan to ban replica firearms.
But some see the measure as a "criminalisation of nostalgia" in a city where guns and popular culture are inextricably linked, from the pistol-packing six-shooters in Texas-themed spaghetti westerns of old to one of the greatest television cliffhangers - who shot JR in the 1980s series Dallas?
"It's a loss of innocence and very sad," said Mike Belden, 57, manager of the Collectible Trains and Toys shop in Dallas. "My generation grew up on a steady diet of TV westerns and everybody wanted to be the cowboy. A toy gun was just part of the costume. If you wanted to be Superman, you had to have a cape, and if you were playing cowboys, the pistol was essential. And westerns taught us lessons. The good guys always won, the bad guys always lost and it was easy to tell who was who."
Others point to the "hypocrisy" of politicians wanting to ban toy weapons while continuing to use gun culture to market the city. Baseball caps and T-shirts bearing the slogan "Shoot JR in Dallas" were sold to try to persuade Hollywood producers to film the forthcoming Dallas movie remake there.
Despite a recent drop, murders in Dallas still run at four times the US average and its overall crime rate has been highest in the country for cities with a population of more than 1 million for eight successive years, according to the FBI.
The council will vote on the proposal from its public safety committee this month. If it is passed, Dallas would become the second city in America, after New York, with such stringent laws about the sale and possession of toy guns. Replicas painted in bright colours or made of translucent material to help distinguish them from real guns would be exempt.
"I would have liked to see the city absolutely outlaw replica guns, but to get anything progressive done in this part of the country is significant," Rev Peter Johnson, a community activist and supporter of the ban, told the Dallas Morning News.
He said an anonymous donor had offered to buy all the toy guns still on sale in Dallas shops to ensure that small business owners would not suffer financially.
But Mr Belden said shops have not carried realistic replicas for years and that the true victims will be collectors no longer able to trade in valuable cowboy-era nostalgia.
"Most of the stuff we see comes from people's attics and is pretty beat-up but every now and then you'll come across something in good condition, such as a Hopalong Cassidy in its box," he said.
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