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State Lawmakers Discuss Mandated Markings For Fake Guns

Confiscated toy or replica guns are shown at the press conference in Boston in July. (Hadley Green for WBUR)MoreCloseclosemore
Confiscated toy or replica guns are shown at the press conference in Boston in July. (Hadley Green for WBUR)

A House committee on Thursday heard testimony on a plan requiring fake guns in Massachusetts to have clear orange markings on them.

Boston Police Commissioner Bill Evans was among those to testify in favor of the bill, which would require manufacturers of replica guns to place bright orange marks on the tip and sides of the simulated weapons.

As Evans addressed lawmakers, half a dozen real-looking but fake guns were displayed on the table in front of him.

"Given the authentic look of all these guns, police officers have a real difficult time to distinguish what's real and what's not," Evans said.

In his testimony Evans cited the case of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old Cleveland boy who was fatally shot by police who mistook his toy gun for a real gun.

State Rep. Dan Cullinane, a Boston Democrat, says manufacturers and retailers of BB guns, pellet guns and other replicas need to be held accountable if they want to sell their products in Massachusetts.

"There's no reason whatsoever why those weapons need to look like actual bullet-firing guns," he told WBUR's Newscast Unit Wednesday.

The Gun Owners’ Action League of Massachusetts opposes the legislation because it says criminals could easily just paint guns.

In November, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh signed an ordinance banning replica handguns in public spaces throughout the city.

Walsh was joined at the November signing by Commissioner Evans, who at the time said fake guns have "become quite an issue for us."

"[H]eaven forbid our officers mistake them for a real gun and have to use deadly force,” Evans said then.

In July, two police officers in Brockton fatally shot a man they say was pointing a realistic-looking BB gun at them.

With reporting by WBUR's Steve Brown

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