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Toy guns, a troubled legacy By Kashif Mirza


May 17, 2022

The writer is an

economist, anchor,

analyst and the

President of All

 Pakistan Private

Schools’ Federation



No punitive section is available in the Pakistan Penal Code or any other law for selling toy guns and selling these toys is still not an offense under the law. Suitable legislation is needed to ban the sale and import of toy guns from other countries.

All Pakistan Private School Federation (APPSF) has demanded the government to impose a ban on the sale of toy guns and violent video games for children, as the toy guns are resulting in violence among the children and promoting the gun culture. The ban was suggested and instituted for ideological and safety reasons; it bears repeating that we have a crisis of gun violence.  APPSF has been campaigning with banners, pamphlets, and public engagements, asking people, especially parents, to stop buying toy guns for their children. The sale of toy guns leads to behavioral disorders among children and also urged parents not to purchase toy guns for their children. Many schools have already announced that no students would be allowed to bring toy guns and also discouraged parents from buying such harmful toys for their children. 

The time for gun reform is now, in fact, it’s so many years overdue and our kids’ lives are more important than anyone’s guns. In fact, we can’t see one good reason to buy toy guns for my kids. The use of toy guns by children causes grievous injuries and negative effects on the children’s minds. Children who are exposed to toys guns and violent games are more prone to violent behavior in their childhood. They are likely to develop mania, bipolar disorder, and personality disorders. Unfortunately, parents proudly purchase these toy guns as gifts for their children and this is what motivates them at a tender age toward violence and crime.  

Children think that weapons are the solution to all of their problems. Living alongside weapons could affect children’s psychology and attract them to guns which often breeds violent tendencies in them, indeed a lasting impression.

In Pakistan, thousands of children were seen carrying toy guns of a different varieties on Eid despite a ban imposed by the administration in several cities and provinces. Islamabad administration has directed the shopkeepers of the city to stop selling toy guns to children as it could prove fatal for them. A number of raids were also conducted in Peshawar and the rest of the province, and the toy guns in large numbers were seized before the Eid. The Sindh Assembly and government also adopted a resolution to impose a ban on the manufacture, import, and sale of toy guns for being misused and for promoting negativity among children. The decision was made after the Rangers sent a letter to the home department and reported that the use of toy guns and pistols for criminal acts has been commonplace in Karachi and other districts of the province. Many plastic guns appear to be real and often criminals use them to loot people. Recently, a gang has been busted in Punjab that used to loot people by showing plastic guns. In pursuance of Section 195 (1) (a) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the police stations concerned are hereby authorized to register complaints under Section 188 of the Pakistan Penal Code in writing for the violation of this order. However, there is no punitive section available in the Pakistan Penal Code or any other law for selling toy guns, and selling these toys is still not an offense under the law. Suitable legislation is needed to ban the sale and import of toy guns from other countries.

The whole world is struggling to regulate gun culture. The United States has already witnessed a total of about 62 shootings between 2018 – 2020 according to the findings of edweek.org. Pew Research Center highlighted, that more than 40,000 people in the U.S. died of gun-related violence including homicide, suicide, or accidental shooting, in a year. Another study conducted at Brandeis University in 2010 found that toy guns do increase aggressive behaviors. About 45 percent of children who play with toy guns grow up to become violent and intolerant adults. Toy guns made to look like the real thing were banned in California under the legislation after a sheriff’s deputy shot and killed a 13-year-old boy after mistaking his replica AK-47 pellet gun for an assault rifle. In New York, it is illegal to sell toy guns that look too realistic. The New York State Senate passed a bill that would ban lifelike toy guns and other imitation weapons. Many nurseries in UK and Europe, banned toy weapons fearing that toy guns and swords can encourage aggression and violence. A survey found that around four in five (79%) of those questioned said that toy weapons are not allowed in their nursery, while about a fifth (21%) said they were permitted. India has seen a rise in gun-related deaths, where youngsters were involved. Under Canadian law, it has been illegal to own a replica firearm since the mid-1990s. In 1992, the Department of Commerce prohibited the manufacture, sale, or shipping of toy guns unless they have an orange tip or are entirely brightly colored. Boston also banned realistic-looking toy guns in public spaces. The Tennessee House of Representatives passed a bill that makes it illegal to take a squirt gun — but not a real gun — within 150 feet of a school. Iraqi lawmakers also, alarmed at the exceptional levels of violence children are exposed to daily, passed a bill to ban the import of toy guns. Toy guns are also banned in Kenya. Afghanistan already has banned the sale of imitation Kalashnikovs and other fake guns, after the toys caused injuries to more than 100 people during Eid al-Fitr celebrations.

Toy guns were never part of our parenting plan. In fact, for a long time, we had a no-guns-at-home policy that was total and unwavering. Negligent parental attitudes and lack of social consideration to protect children from possibly harmful toys have dismayed some activists. Toy gun sales during the past years especially during Eid seasons totaled millions of rupees. The pocket money traditionally given to children by elders is widely splurged on imitation AK-47s, fake revolver pistols, and plastic rifles.  Psychiatrists also believe the use of toy guns and various violent games can cause behavioral disorders among children and they become addicted to such toys. These toys guns and various violent games that are available on the market trigger aggressive tendencies among children. Children toting toy guns that fire rubber or plastic pellets are a common sight. More than 100 children and teenagers suffered eye injuries during three days of Eid celebrations. Kids do enjoy their pretend-and-play rough fights. But at other times it wonder if we are making a mistake by introducing violence through toy guns and to shooting-based video games, and giving them the message that it’s okay. Free play encourages creativity and expression, and toys give structure, form, and purpose to play. If we are teaching children to be kind and building strong children, toy guns bring a conflicting message. Outside of the gun itself, the play that is experienced when playing with guns involves fake-shooting each other, which is something that is conflicting with treating others with respect and respecting life. 

There are plenty of other active toys out there that serve kids better than guns do — from sports toys to nature-inspired toys that represent community helpers like fire trucks, police cars, and ambulances, etc. Mockups of Kalashnikovs, pistols, and machine guns, accurate down to the mechanics of loading and firing, are increasingly popular among children. When it comes to toy guns that actually shoot projectiles, if you are buying the gun, you are training five-year-olds to put a bullet in the chamber and fire shots. After using the toy gun, a child can easily use a real one, which actually helps breed a culture of violence among children. Incidents of children being injured by toy guns that shoot projectiles are increasing. There is a strong connection between juvenile war games and adult violence. Toy guns erode our children’s ability to understand the finality of death. In playing guns, they get shot, die, and bounce back to their feet in joyful play as if nothing has happened. Children are too young to understand, and it’s not their fault. We loathe for our kids to believe that anything made to kill another living being is cool, fun, or normal. Many children, regardless of their backgrounds or parental proclivities, delight in toy guns and other gun-like things. Maybe kids are drawn to guns because in our society — and in mainstream media especially — guns are a symbol of power. When small kids play and shoot others with toy guns, they thrill at the power of being able to make someone immobile, at the drama of the target falling. Do they really understand the true meaning of death? Hardly! 

Parents should buy gifts for children which portray peace and love, children need to be told guns are not a sign of power. They must learn that through education one has the ability to change the world.  The media should also play its part in educating the masses against the impact and use of artificial Weapons Toys on children. It is always sensible that parents give their children toys that help in their physical and mental growth. Unfortunately, In most TV shows and video games, power is associated with a gun for children, which is terrible. We should run public awareness campaigns about the harmful psychological impact of gun exposure on young minds. Toys should not be harmful mentally or physically. Children should play games that are not aggressive but competitive. Playing dolls helps girls understand relationships and interaction as do pets. Guns have become a symbol of prestige and status. Children watch movies and play video games based on violence and recreate scenes while playing with toy guns. Children think that weapons are the solution to all of their problems. Living alongside weapons could affect children’s psychology and attract them to guns which often breeds violent tendencies in them, indeed a lasting impression.

A huge responsibility lies on all of us to play our parts actively and ensure that our children grow in a healthy environment. There is a dire need to launch an operation and campaign against those who are manufacturing or selling toy guns. The ban, which, if rigorously enforced, would impact the booming gun toy business in the country, will widely be welcomed. The government with the help of the district administration must impose a ban on the manufacturing, import, and sale of toy guns, further action under section 188 of PPC may be initiated against the violators in accordance with the law. There is a need to change the policy when it comes to gun control because obviously, the legislation that’s currently in place isn’t enough. Suitable legislation is needed to ban the sale and import of toy guns.

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