New York is forcing Walmart, Amazon, and other retailers to pay over $300,000 for the crime of selling toy guns.
The settlement stems from an investigation by the state’s attorney general office, which sent cease and desist letters to the retailers in December for breaking its strict law against children’s toys.
"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," according to the attorney general office. All fake toy guns must be neon colored in New York City.
Walmart, Amazon, K-Mart, Sears, and ToyArsenal.com were all targeted by the state. The settlement was announced by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Monday, and will carry "collective civil penalties of more than $300,000," the New York Times reported.
ToyAresenal.com now features a disclaimer on its website that reads: "New York Residents, Your State Now Prohibits The Sale of Toy Guns. Any NY Toy Gun Order will be cancelled."
The New York attorney general office was troubled by its findings during its investigation into toy guns.
"Some of the toy guns discovered during the investigation are advertised as ‘realistic looking’ and ‘full size,’" the office said. "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 office blames toy guns for four deaths in the past 18 years in New York, which has a population of 8 million people.
The Today Show featured a segment on the settlement Monday, which the anchors called a "real eye opener."
The Today Show’s "investigative correspondent" Jeff Rossen demonstrated what he described as a "bold experiment." Hiding a toy gun in his pants, Rossen quickly turned around, pointing it directly at a police officer.
The officers said they would have shot Rossen after he pointed an object that looked like a gun directly at them from some distance.
"But even with this new settlement we were still able to go online and buy the real-looking toy guns, getting them shipped to other states, including Michigan, Arizona, and New Jersey where it’s still legal," Rossen warned.
New York has been cracking down on children’s toy guns for some time. In 2003, the state’s then-Attorney General Eliot Spitzer sued Walmart, which led to a $200,000 fine.
Other retailers including Rite-Aid and four Westchester County dollar stores were forced to pay a total of $69,500 for "failure to comply fully with the state's toy gun law" and other "toy gun law violations" between 2001 and 2002.