A Midtown tourist shop is fighting a fine handed down by the Mayor’s office for selling cigarette lighters shaped like small pistols.
Fred Shayes, the owner of US Camera & Computer, filed papers to block the $60,000 fine that was handed down by the administration of Mayor Bloomberg.
“We don’t have the money,” said Shayes. “I would have to take a loan out from the bank to pay that.”
Investigators fined the store after discovering that it was selling bronze-and-silver colored 3-inch butane lighters shaped like guns with black handles and red tips. The lighters, which were retailing for $10, were removed from the store’s shelves.
Toy guns in New York City are required to have a legible stamp identifying the manufacturer or trade name. They are also supposed to be bright green, blue, red or a neon color. Even though the lighters are tiny, the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs decided that some people might think they were real firearms, The New York Post reported.
“The day the inspector came, he said, ‘This is illegal,’” Shayes said. “I took it off the shelf right away. I sent it back, and I showed them the invoice that proved I returned it.”
A spokeswoman for the city’s law department said: “Imitation guns that are not easily distinguishable from real weapons pose a real and significant danger to public safety.”
City officials have seized more than 7,200 illegal toy guns from stores and levied $2.4 million in fines over the past seven years.