Gun control activists built their anti-liberty agenda around a simple theme: Guns kill. Never mind that firearms — like any weapon or tool — can accomplish neither good nor evil without an operator. Firearms are so evil that children shouldn’t even play with toy replicas. But banning toy guns is ridiculous, isn’t it? Not so fast.

In Michigan, toy guns have apparently replaced the so-called assault rifle as the criminal’s weapon of choice. Republican Senator Rick Jones explained, “People are taking imitation guns that look real, cutting off the orange end and then threatening people.” But do criminal acts with toy mock-ups warrant a ban? Quite the contrary, it would seem a reason to further liberalize right-to-carry laws. Toy gun toting gangbangers will think twice before pointing airsoft pistols at people who might be sporting the genuine article.

Gun control advocates will argue that armed citizens prompt criminals to use real guns, escalating the danger. Yet criminals already have that option. So why do they choose toy guns? Modifying toy guns is cheaper than obtaining real ones, and using them carries a lesser sentence upon conviction.

If S.B. 779 becomes law, brandishing a modified toy gun would be punishable by up to 18 months in prison. Why only 18 months, and why aren’t such offenders treated as armed criminals now? The perpetrator who misrepresents a toy gun as the real McCoy is selling the threat, not the gun. Since the intimidating affect is real to the victim, the threat is the same as if a real gun were used. And should the victim unlimber their own firearm and kill the perpetrator their act would be just as much self-defense as if the perpetrator’s gun were genuine. What’s more, the aggressor would be just as dead.

Such a law is ambiguous, too. Jacksonville, FL police killed a robber who confronted them with a modified toy gun. But San Jose, CA officers appear to have overreacted when faced with a toy gun. Regardless the situation, no one finds joy in wounding or killing another person. But does either shooting validate criminalizing the possession of a modified toy? In the first example the robber received exactly what he requested. Thinning the herd, it’s called. Why shed tears on his behalf? In the second incident, officers perceived a danger. But the gun wasn’t presented in a threatening manner. Why should the wounded man face charges?

Rather than criminalizing toy guns for lacking orange muzzles we should recognize violent behavior for what it is and treat it accordingly. The last thing we need is another impotent gun law. 

When one person threatens another the real crime isn’t the presence of a gun, whether genuine or imitation. The crime is the aggressor’s attempt to gain advantage through the threat of bodily harm, or even death. The criminal is telling the victim that their right to life and property exists only at the criminal’s discretion. Isn’t that crime’s true nature?

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