Amazon, Kmart, Walmart.com agree to stop selling realistic toy guns in NY state

James Swartz, director of World Against Toys Causing Harm Inc., holds up a toy machine gun in 2014. The consumer watchdog group releases an annual list of what it considers to be the 10 most unsafe toys. AP Photo

NEW YORK – Eric Schneiderman, attorney general of New York state, has reached a settlement with some of the country’s biggest retailers — including Amazon, Kmart and Walmart.com — fining them for selling toy guns that look real and getting them to agree to stop selling them statewide.

“Police officers can’t tell in a split second if it’s a real gun or toy gun,” Schneiderman said. “We’ve had 63 people shot in New York because law enforcement officers thought the toy gun was a real gun — that’s not acceptable.”

The agreement requires that toy guns sold by those retailers in New York state be brightly colored so they can be easily distinguished from real weapons. “We hope this case can serve as a model for other states,” Schneiderman said.

With the help of the police department in Rochester, New York, TODAY national investigative correspondent Jeff Rossen set up an experiment to show just how much of a challenge it is for officers to distinguish a toy gun from a real one when they need to make a split-second decision. When Rossen drew a real-looking toy gun — and even when he simply waved one without pointing it at officers — they assumed the gun was real and reacted accordingly.

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