Police and clergy leaders in Boston are calling for a ban on toy guns in order to help prevent police shootings, the Boston Globe reported Thursday.
Last week, officers in Brockton, Mass., a Boston suburb, shot and killed Douglas Buckley, 45, after he allegedly pointed a realistic BB gun at them. And in one of the most tragic police shootings of the past year, 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot in Cleveland in November after playing with a replica Airsoft gun.
“You can’t tell the difference, basically,” Boston Police Commissioner William B. Evans told the Globe. “Kids know they’re fake—we don’t." He said the idea that cops might shoot a child—like Tamir Rice—is their "worst nightmare."
Phony guns were recovered or used in 113 Boston incidents between January 2014 and April 2015, according to police stats, the Globe reported. On Tuesday night, officers in the city chased after four boys playing with a replica gun but recovered it without incident.
State law currently bans minors from having air rifles or BB guns in public places without adult supervision. Evans wants the city to pass a law banning all toy guns in public places for everyone.
That measure would follow a similar law in Philadelphia, which bans all BB guns and pellets in public places. Another state bill proposed in Ohio would go even further, banning the sale of realistic toy guns. While federal law requires toy gun manufacturers put a bright orange tip on gun barrels signifying they're fake, those can be removed or painted over.
Meanwhile, a group of Boston reverends is calling on toy manufacturers to stop selling lookalike guns and urging parents to get rid of them. “We’re saying no to BB guns in the community,” Rev. Mark V. Scott told the Globe. “Parents are the key to being successful in this.”
Casey Tolan is a National News Reporter for Fusion based in New York City.