Group protests possible ban on toy guns by handing out toy guns


February 6, 2003, 06:22 PM

'Guns For Tots' - Political Group Plans To Hand Out Toy Guns To Kids To Protest 'Silly' Bill

(New York-WABC, February 5, 2003) — In a plan that is already outraging local parents, a political group plans to hand out hundreds of toy guns to school children in Harlem Thursday. The Manhattan Libertarian Party is calling their program "Guns For Tots," and they say they're doing it to protest a bill before the City Council that would ban the sale of most toy guns in New York City. Marcus Solis reports from East Harlem where some say the idea is downright dangerous.
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Parents at PS 72 got a letter Wednesday that alerted them to the fact that their child may recieve a toy gun as they leave school Thursday. The group behind it says the City Council is considering 'silly' legislation that merits a silly response. Still, some parents don't their plan is funny.

The Manhattan Libertarian Party showed us some of the hundreds of toy guns that, if they have their way, will be distributed to kids outside of PS 72 in East Harlem after school Thursday.

Gary Snyder, Manhattan Libertarian Party: "We're not giving them firearms, we're giving them toys that have been used for decades in good fun... Good clean fun."

The giveaway is a form of protest against a proposed law introduced by two city council members. The bill would ban any toy guns that are shaped like the real thing. Lawmakers say they can easily be painted black and mistaken for a real weapon.

City Councilman David Weprin, Queens (D): "I think we're going to prevent a number of incidents in the future. If we save one life it's worthwile."

But the Libertarian Party says the council is legislating morality by limiting what toys parents can give their kids. They say the number of children mistakenly shot by police is small, and that most incidents, like the fatal shooting of a 17 year-old in Harlem last month, involve someone purposely using a toy gun in the commission of a crime.

The libertarians have previously used unusual means to get their point across, like giving away free cigarettes to protest the increased tax on tobacco. But why, in this case, was a minority community picked?

Snyder: "Because we think that kids on Park Avenue or Sutton Place wouldn't appreciate a new toy as much as kids uptown."

That explaination didn't sit well with parents at PS 72, who were informed about the group's plan in letter from school officials Wednesday.

Marina Lopez, Parent: "Especially in this area, where so many things go wrong... so many bad things have happened. I just don't like the idea."

Leslie Bernadette, Parent: "I'm upset about it, because why do they have to come to our neighborhood to give out guns... It's like saying, 'This is the right neighborhood to do that.' Forget it..."

The school is encouraging parents to send their kids to school as scheduled on Thursday, saying the local police precinct has been notified. And with a letter from school officials, so to have parents.

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February 6, 2003, 06:46 PM
Two words for the city council and those "concerned" parents:
Bull $#!t.

February 6, 2003, 07:14 PM
Sounds like a dumb move on the part of the LP. The stigma surrounding toy guns is stupid, the proposed law is stupid, but handing out toy guns in the midst of the paranoid mindset isn't going to help their cause, and might just invite disaster. If a crime or child injury occurs anywhere near one of the toy gun handouts, lawyers will be waiting on the streetcorners to sign up "victims" for civil cases against the LP.

The more I think about it, sounds like mere posturing on the part of the LP. By making a prior announcement of the giveaway, they seem to be banking on being prevented from actually carrying it out. Even then, I'm not grasping how it could help the LP case, except to possibly raise opposition to the proposed ordinance.

Mike Irwin
February 6, 2003, 07:59 PM
I just wish someone would screw up and offer a "Guns for Toys" program. I'd be so there... :)

February 6, 2003, 09:27 PM
Good idea. Wrong neighborhood.


February 6, 2003, 10:39 PM
If we save one life it's worthwile.
God I am so sick of hearing this crap.

February 7, 2003, 12:39 AM
Great idea, wrong way to go about it.

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