New York Says Toy Guns Still Look Too Much Like the Real Thing; Halts Sales

Despite years of enforcement stings, many New York stores still aren't complying with state rules banning the sale of toy guns that could be confused with the real thing, state officials said Tuesday.

Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said his office has sent letters to more than 100 retailers ordering them to halt sales of look-a-likes that violate the ban.

State law requires toy guns to either be made from materials that couldn't possibly be confused with an actual weapon or carry colorful markings including a big orange stripe.

Inspectors with Cuomo's office said they conducted spot checks and found plenty of toys on sale that didn't follow those rules. In most cases, the toys only complied with a less-strict federal rule requiring them to have an orange plug in the barrel.

Some of the stores that got letters included the discount retailers Dollar General, Big Lots and Dollar Tree and the hunting, camping and fishing supply store Gander Mountain.

Spokespeople for each of those stores didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Many of the smaller retailers that received demand letters from Cuomo's office had purchased the toys from a single supplier, Rhode Island Novelty, of Cumberland, R.I.

Rhode Island Novelty President Bob Nowak said the company was made aware of the problem about a month ago and has since stopped selling any of the offending toys to retailers in New York. He said the company had previously been unaware of New York's regulations.

The state's toy law, one of the nation's toughest, has existed for years, but problems with compliance persist.

The retailer Party City paid a $500,000 penalty last year over its toy gun sales. Over the years, Wal-Mart, The Sports Authority, CVS, Walgreens and Kmart have also been fined.

Adults and children are shot almost every year across the U.S. because of toys mistaken for weapons. New York's most famous case involved Nicholas Heyward, a 13-year-old fatally wounded by a police officer as he played with friends in the hallway of his Brooklyn apartment building.