HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Some state lawmakers are looking to shoot down toy gun sales. New bills introduced would make it a crime to sell a toy gun to any child under 18. The idea alone is already creating controversy.
There are posters around campus and staff reminds each class every year not to bring toy guns to school. Still kids learn the hard way and early this school year a Washington Middle School student bought and then brought a toy gun to school. He showed his friend who then pointed it at people. Now both boys are suspended and will miss almost their entire eighth grade year.
"These are realistic looking toy guns," said Michael Harano, Washington Middle School Principal.
Principal Harano says students get caught every year which is why he brought the idea to lawmakers to ban the sale of toy guns to all kids.
"Most of these students are buying these guns without their parent's knowledge because it's readily available to them so legislation to prevent that will help because it will keep it off our campus," said Harano.
In this case the kid bought the gun from the Hanarum Market right around the corner from campus. We went inside and found the exact same gun the kid bought and got in trouble for. It's selling for $9.50 and the box says "the best for 18 and up" but that doesn't mean a kid can't buy it. The toy gun looks realistic with plastic pellets you load into a detachable magazine. It even has a flashlight and a laser scope to help aim. Then you cock it to load the pellet into the chamber and shoot.
"We're certainly not looking to restrict anybody's rights, but if it's getting in the way of a child's education I take that very seriously," said Harano. "I think it's a sign of the times. I wish they would ban some of the games and even some of the shows that kids are able to watch with the violence they show."
"We're actually quite surprised that the legislature didn't have other things to do that are more beneficial like jobs and the economy," said Chris Baker, with the Hawaii Concealed Carry organization that is taking aim at the bill.
"It poses a problem for parents and children. Children like playing with toys and parents like buying their kids toys so similar to cigarettes or beer you can't just go to the store to buy something for somebody who can't legally purchase it themselves and then hand it off to that person." said Baker.
Rep. Scott Saiki, who introduced the bill in the State House, says parents that bought their child a toy gun to play with at home would not be breaking the law, however they still could not bring it to school.
"In general even the kids that went to the school probably knew it was bad and probably knew they were wrong in doing it, so when we can deal with each situation as it comes and not blanket legislation to ban this stuff it will be more beneficial for us and less costly."
Baker agrees middle school kids should not be running around with the toy gun replicas, but does not want a blanket ban for all toy guns.
Lawmakers will take public testimony Tuesday February 15 at 9:00 am in conference room 229 at the State Capitol at 415 South Beretania Street.