In a storage room at Gander Mountain are handguns, rifles and shotguns that won't be sold. They work fine, but they look too much like the real thing.
Always popular with kids, realistic toy guns have become a problem for police officers and school officials.
"They don't have time to ask, 'Hey, is that a toy gun?'" said Ryan Aldrich, gun department manager at Gander Mountain in Baxter. On Tuesday Gander Mountain ordered that all realistic toy guns be removed from its 105 stores nationwide.
According to a story in Monday's Star Tribune, nearly one-fifth of the 690 guns confiscated by St. Paul police last year were realistic toy guns. Minnesota schools reported 204 incidents of toy guns being confiscated in school last year. St. Paul is considering a citywide ban on realistic toy guns.
Gander Mountain ordered all of its stores to remove from their shelves realistic-looking toy guns. Ryan Aldrich, gun department manager in Baxter, rounded up the guns in his store and placed them on two racks in a storage room. The outdoors retailer will continue to sell toy guns made of clear or brightly colored plastic. Brainerd Dispatch/Vince Meyer » Purchase reprints of this photo.
A variety of models were pulled from the shelves, including replicas of the AK-47 assault rifle, sawed-off shotguns with pistol grips, semi-automatic pistols and BB guns with holographic sights.
"Some of our sales associates who work part time in law enforcement said it's a good idea because they look so real," Aldrich said of the decision to take the guns off sale. Gander Mountain will continue to sell toy guns with clear or bright-colored plastic casings, he added.
In the past an orange-tipped muzzle was considered sufficient to distinguish a toy gun from a real gun. But too many kids removed the orange tip or painted it black.
"Any time a kid can get his hands on a gun that looks really real he's excited," Aldrich said.
Many realistic toy guns are used for airsoft, a game in which players simulate military combat by using smoothbore guns that replicate real firearms. The game's roots are in Japan, where real guns are impossible to buy due to stringent laws, according to Wikipedia, an Internet encyclopedia.
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