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Schneiderman investigation reveals major retailers illegally selling prohibited toy guns

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Thu, Dec 18th 2014 02:40 pm

Cease and desist letters sent to Wal-Mart, Amazon, K-Mart and other retailers to halt sale of toy guns lacking distinguishing designs

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced his office sent cease and desist letters to several major retailers, including Wal-Mart, Amazon, K-Mart and others for allegedly selling prohibited toy guns online to residents of New York, and, in at least one case, in a K-Mart store in suburban Rochester. The letters, stemming from an ongoing investigation, call for retailers to immediately stop the in-store and online sale and shipment to New Yorkers of toy guns that violate state law pending the resolution of Schneiderman's investigation. 

"When toy guns are mistaken for real guns, there can be tragic consequences," Schneiderman said. "New York state law is clear: Retailers cannot put children and law enforcement at risk by selling toy guns that are virtually indistinguishable from the real thing."

The attorney general's investigation is focusing on ensuring compliance with state law to prevent the purchase of prohibited toy guns both in stores and online. State law prohibits the sale of imitation guns in realistic colors such as black, blue, silver or aluminum, unless it has a non-removable one-inch-wide orange stripe running down both sides of the barrel and the front end of the barrel.

One of the retailers sent a cease and desist letter, Wal-Mart, was the subject of an earlier investigation by the attorney general's office into in-store sales of such toys, which resulted in a court order prohibiting them from selling toy guns in New York. The A.G.'s office said it now appears those sales have moved to the online marketplace.

This new investigation reveals many prohibited toy guns, priced from less than $10 to as much as several hundred dollars, can be easily purchased online and shipped into the state. The recent investigation also uncovered that at least one retailer is selling illegal toy guns in its stores.

Some of the toy guns discovered during the investigation are advertised as "realistic looking" and "full size." Since they lack the orange striping down both sides of the barrel as required under state law, these imitation assault rifles, shotguns and pistols closely resemble dangerous weapons, and could be easily mistaken for real weapons by law enforcement and civilians alike. 

The attorney general sent cease and desist letters to the following online retailers for selling illegal toy guns:

  • Wal-Mart
  • Amazon.com
  • K-Mart
  • Sears
  • ToyArsenal.com

Since 1997, at least four individuals have been killed in New York, and one child was seriously wounded, when law enforcement officers mistook toy guns for real guns. To report the sale of illegal toy guns, consumers are encouraged to contact Schneiderman's consumer helpline at 800-771-7755.

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