Wal-Mart, Sears and Amazon have agreed to remove realistic-looking toy guns from their shelves in a settlement with New York that nets the state’s government $300,000.
The investigation, conducted by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, found that 6,400 toy guns were sold that violated New York’s pre-existing ban on gun lookalikes. The sales took place between 2012 and 2014, when the shootings in Aurora, Colorado, Newtown, Connecticut and other areas made headlines and called for stricter gun control measures.
“There have been instances in states around the country in which police officers have mistaken toy guns for actual guns,” Schneiderman said in an interview with Matt Lauer on NBC’s “Today.”
“It’s an absolutely unnecessary risk, because toy guns, as New York law requires, can be easily distinguishable.”
Schneiderman was referring to the death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was shot by a police officer in Cleveland, Ohio, after he was seen playing with a toy gun. The New York Times noted that Rice’s case inspired states such as Florida, New York, Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Nebraska, Washington and Massachusetts to create laws geared at the toy gun industry.
In New York, black, blue, silver or aluminum toy guns are banned throughout the state. In New York City, toy guns must be brightly colored to make it easier to tell the difference between a toy and a real firearm, reports The Associated Press.
While the retailers did not sell any of the toy guns in their stores, many were purchased on their websites which still violates New York laws.
Wal-Mart has seen the most punishment from the sales, due to a 2003 agreement to keep the products out of New York. Randy Hargrove, a spokesman for Wal-Mart, explained the process of the sales in the state.
“Once the New York attorney general expressed concern with certain items sold at Walmart.com we blocked the shipment of those items into the state,” Hargrove said in an email. “We are pleased we were able to resolve this matter, along with several other retailers.”