City Desk

Faux Gun Control

For playful print platform of Washington City Paper, I wrote about the government's War on Toy Guns.

I knew D.C's laws controlling real guns are going lax. But until recently I wasn't aware that federal and local statutes and various regulatory pressures have made it harder to get cap and squirt guns and air rifles and various other types of faux firearms.

D.C. is among the most restrictive jurisdictions in the country as far as toy guns go, with sales of Airsoft air guns banned in the city, and out-of-state sellers prohibited from shipping the realistically ominous-looking playthings into our town.

Rather than deal with the legal headaches, many big retail chains across the country, including Walmart and Target, stopped selling look-a-like toy guns, and now brag about their reduced inventory.

Walmart, the biggest retail kahuna, which has been doing a kabuki dance with D.C. that'll eventually end with a new outpost somewhere in our midst, had also backed away from selling real firearms in recent years.

But a report this spring in the Wall Street Journal said the chain has gone back to offering actual weapons.

From the WSJ piece:

The world's largest retailer stopped selling hunting rifles and bullets at all but a third of its U.S. stores five years ago, citing diminishing sales. It is now restoring them to hundreds of locations, bringing the total to nearly half of its more than 3,600 U.S. namesake stores, as part of a larger push to restore "heritage categories" of merchandise such as fishing rods and bolts of sewing fabric that it removed in an attempt to go upscale that backfired.

Walmart has not yet announced any rollback of its anti-toy gun policies.
So by the time the chain makes it into D.C., there's every chance you'll have an easier time buying something that'll blow you away than you will something that'll just, well, put your eye out.
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  • Typical DC BS

    Stupid to sell "realistic" toy guns. Cops (and trigger happy nitwits) get nervous when they see anyone, including kids, with toy guns that look like the real thing.

  • jeff adamson

    "I knew D.C's laws controlling real guns are going lax."
    Are you kidding? You are a "reporter"? Right now, as I type one can legally register a gun in DC. 3 years AFTER Heller, DC STILL has its gun ban.
    "Going lax" liberals kill me.

  • Reina Chelsey

    I don't think there is a need to control "toy guns". However, airsoft guns should not even be considered as toy guns and should be seen as weapons instead. If they are to impose a bill on airsoft guns as California's SB-798 had tried to do,they would see the same result from the airsoft community an extreme uproar and disagreement. Read from airsoft safety, it is really not hard to keep yourself safe while playing airsoft guns.

  • Claudia

    Airsoft is not a crime! As long as everyone understands the saftey of the sport ( ) everything should be ok.

  • D Varner

    I understand the concern with the look-a-like factor but the reality is that these are not weapons and should not be regulated as weapons.