Wholesalers Agree To Cease Distribution Of Imitation Toy Guns That Violate State Law

In an effort to keep unsafe toys off the shelves of New York stores, Attorney General Spitzer today announced agreements with two wholesalers to stop distributing toy guns that violate New York State law.

"Realistic-looking toy guns pose a threat to the law enforcement community and to the general public," Spitzer said. "My office's agreements with these two wholesalers will help keep unsafe toys off the shelves of scores of retail stores across the state and possibly prevent tragic incidents."

The two New York City-based wholesalers - Rubie's Costumes Company, Inc. and Franco American Novelty Co., Inc. which distribute costumes and accessories, including toy guns, to approximately 160 retailers throughout the state - entered into settlement agreements with Spitzer's office and agreed to pay civil penalties and costs of $27,000 and $10,000 respectively.

It is estimated that since early 2001 Rubie's and Franco American have distributed over 12,000 toy guns in violation of state law to retailers.

As a result of Spitzer's investigation, retailers have pulled thousands of unlawful toy guns from store shelves, and the two wholesalers have replaced them with toys that meet state law requirements.

State law prohibits the sale of any imitation toy gun in realistic colors such as black, blue, silver or aluminum unless it has a non-removable orange stripe running down both sides of the barrel. The stripe must be one inch wide if the barrel is at least one inch wide.

As part of a continuing effort by Spitzer's office to enforce public safety laws, several other retailers across the state also have stopped selling realistic-looking toy guns in violation of state law, including Wal Mart Stores, Inc., Rite-Aid Pharmacies, four "dollar stores" in Westchester County, eight retailers in Manhattan and a popular costume store in Monroe County.

Realistic toy guns have been prohibited in New York State for the past 15 years. Improperly marked guns have led to tragic consequences. In four separate incidents in New York State alone since 1997, four individuals were killed and one child was seriously wounded when law enforcement officers mistook toy guns for real ones. More recently, a Rochester man holding a "B-B" gun was shot by a city police officer.

Mike Green, Monroe County District Attorney stated: "Imitation weapons have the potential to be extremely dangerous to anyone who possesses one and the people in the area. Therefore, we need to continue these efforts to remove items from the streets."

To report unsafe toys, consumers are encouraged to contact the Attorney General's consumer help line at (800) 771-7755.

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