In November 2014, a rookie police officer in Cleveland, Ohio, shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice while he was playing with a BB gun. The policeman reported that he thought it was the real thing and feared for his life. However, the case remains open with accompanying allegations of racial profiling [source: Izadi and Holley].
Whether BB guns, airsoft, paint guns or simple toys, imitation firearms can turn play into a police matter. U.S. federal law since 1989 has required most toy guns to be outfitted with a bright orange tip on the muzzle or to have a brightly colored body. The boy's gun, which resembled a semiautomatic handgun, did not have these distinctive markings.
This killing was not an isolated incident. In 2007, San Diego police shot a teenaged boy with an imitation revolver in his car. In early 2013, police in Brownsville, Texas, killed a 15-year-old boy brandishing a black BB gun that resembled a Glock firearm [source: Ferriss]. Later that year, a sheriff's deputy in Santa Rosa, Calif., shot and killed a 13-year-old boy walking down the street carrying a replica of an AK-47 [source: Alexander]. Incidences like these make fake guns the most deadly toy of all.
Author's Note: 10 Classic Toys That Could Kill You
Researching this article was educational and a little humbling. I feel like I stay on top of safety at my house. There are regular smoke detector checks. I have a carbon monoxide detector. We discard broken or damaged toys, and try to stick with the classics instead of the flavor-of-the-month. Even so, we either have -- or have had -- seven of the 10 toys on this list. And survived!
- Alexander, Kurtis. "Police rarely charged in killings over fake guns." San Francisco Chronicle. Nov. 1, 2013. (Nov. 18, 2013). http://www.sfgate.com/crime/article/Police-rarely-charged-in-killings-over-fake-guns-4948220.php
- CBC Radio. "Selling Danger." March 23, 2013. (Nov. 17, 2013) http://www.cbc.ca/undertheinfluence/season-2/2013/03/23/selling-danger-1/
- Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). "CPSC, Galoob Toys Inc. Announce Recall of Sky Dancers Flying Dolls." Oct. 24, 2002. (Nov. 17, 2013) http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/2000/CPSC-Galoob-Toys-Inc-Announce-Recall-of-Sky-Dancers-Flying-Dolls/
- Consumer Product Safety Commission. "CPSC Obtains Consent Decree to Halt Improper Sale of Lawn Darts." July 18, 1988. (Nov. 21, 2013) http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Newsroom/News-Releases/1988/CPSC-Obtains-Consent-Decree-To-Halt-Improper-Sale-Of-Lawn-Darts-/
- Consumer Product Safety Commission. "Mattel and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Announce Voluntary Refund Program for Cabbage Patch Kids and Snacktime Kids Dolls." May 9, 2005. (Nov. 17, 2013) http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/1997/Mattel-and-the-US-Consumer-Product-Safety-Commission-Announce-Voluntary-Refund-Program-for-Cabbage-Patch-Kids--Snacktime-Kids-Dolls/
- Consumer Product Safety Commission. "Wham-O Backyard Water Slides are Dangerous for Adults and Teenagers." May 27, 1993. (Nov. 17, 2013) http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/1993/WHAM-O-Backyard-Water-Slides-Are-Dangerous-For-Adults-And-Teenagers/
- Ferriss, Susan. "Fatal Texas Shooting Highlights Struggle to Regulate Replica Guns." The Center for Public Integrity. Jan. 13, 2013. (Nov. 17, 2013) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/the-center-for-public-integrity/fatal-texas-shooting-high_b_1204490.html
- Kovalchik, Kara. "7 Dangerous Toys Kids Today Are Missing Out On." Mental Floss. July 6, 2009. (Nov. 17, 2013) http://mentalfloss.com/article/22162/7-dangerous-toys-kids-today-are-missing-out
- Mungin, Lateef. "Deputy Kills 13-year-old Carrying Fake Rifle." CNN. Oct. 25, 2013. (Nov. 17, 2013) http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/24/justice/california-fake-rifle-boy-killed/
- NBC News. "Mattel Recalls 4.4 Million Magnetic Play Sets." Nov. 21, 2006. (Nov. 17, 2013) http://www.nbcnews.com/id/15827860/
- The New York Times. "$40 Refund is Offered for Hair-Eating Dolls." Jan. 7, 1997. (Nov. 21, 2012) http://www.nytimes.com/1997/01/07/us/40-refund-is-offered-for-hair-eating-dolls.html
- Oak Ridge Associated Laboratories. "Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Lab (1950-1951)." (Nov. 17, 2013) http://www.orau.org/ptp/collection/atomictoys/GilbertU238Lab.htm
- Retroland. "Creepy Crawlers." (Nov. 21, 2013) http://www.retroland.com/creepy-crawlers/
- Safe Kids. "Joint Statement of CPSC and Safe Kids on Magnet Poisoning." May 10, 2012. (Nov. 17, 2013) http://www.safekids.org/press-release/joint-statement-cpsc-and-safe-kids-magnet-poisoning
- Safe Kids. "Toy Safety Tips." (Nov. 17, 2013) http://www.safekids.org/sites/default/files/documents/toy_safety_tips.pdf
- Young, Norman. "Science Notebook: Gilbert Glassblowing." Science Notebook. (Nov. 21, 2013) http://science-notebook.com/gilbert-glass01.html
- The Washington Post. "Video shows Cleveland officer shooting 12-year-old Tamir Rice within seconds." Nov. 26, 2014. (Oct. 13, 2015) https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2014/11/26/officials-release-video-names-in-fatal-police-shooting-of-12-year-old-cleveland-boy/
- Whamo. "Iconic Slip 'N Slide Makes a Big Splash on its 50th Birthday." April 26, 2011. (Nov. 17, 2013) http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20110426006875/en/iconic-Slip-'N-Slide®-Big-Splash-50th
Lego announced it is switching to a sugarcane-based plastic as part of its commitment to sustainable materials. HowStuffWorks looks at the change.