Toy gun incident triggers new law
Don’t play with guns – even some toy varieties – in the city of Aspen.A new ordinance, to be considered by the City Council next week, would make it against city law to alter toy guns to make them look like real weapons or to brandish them about.The proposed law stems from an incident last September that resulted in the apprehension of several teenagers at gunpoint in downtown Aspen. The youths had been goofing around with pellet guns that had been altered to look like real handguns. An alarmed bystander notified authorities, who responded with guns – the real kind – drawn.
A photograph in The Aspen Times of a teen face down on the ground, being handcuffed by one officer while another pointed an assault rifle at him, caused a stir.None of the youths faced criminal charges; instead, the police department used the incident as a springboard to educate youths and parents about the dangers of playing with toy guns. The city also began looking at how other municipalities have addressed the problem, according to Police Chief Loren Ryerson.There have been more than 31,000 incidents nationwide involving imitation guns in the last five years, he said, citing Bureau of Justice statistics.
The proposed new ordinance is something Aspen patrol officers want to see in place, Ryerson said.”I support it,” he added. “Anytime we can not have to go through those circumstances – it’s very dangerous for the people at the end of our guns, but it’s also scary for our officers to face circumstances like that.”The ordinance addresses the use of BB and pellet guns, air guns, paintball guns and imitation guns. Removing the red or orange markings that manufacturers apply to the guns – the tip-off that they are toys – will be illegal.”We’re particularly concerned with the defacing and altering of guns so they look real,” Ryerson said.
The ordinance also addresses the circumstances under which such guns may be used within the city limits. It will still be legal, for example, to fire a BB gun on private property at a proper target, but it will be illegal to display a toy gun that someone could mistake for the real thing.”Our goal is not to write tickets. Our goal is to not have these guns brandished around in public,” the chief said.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
Lift-Up has helped feed hungry families in the Roaring Fork Valley for 38 years, but experienced in a surge in demand this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. It is making changes to meet the demand and address allegations of incidents of discrimination.