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Westside Digest

Santa Monica : Ban on Toy Guns Endorsed

November 12, 1987

The sale of realistic toy guns probably will be outlawed in Santa Monica by the end of the year, after City Council action this week.

The council voted 6 to 1 Tuesday night to give preliminary approval to a ban on the sale of replica firearms, acting on a motion by Council Member Alan Katz who said the law is necessary "for the safety of our children."

Council Member Herb Katz (no relation to Alan Katz) said he was persuaded to go along with the ban because of a similar action taken in the Los Angeles City Council, which voted to draft an ordinance banning both the sale and manufacture of realistic-looking fake weapons.

Herb Katz originally had sponsored an ordinance that would have put warning labels on toy guns.

Santa Monica's ordinance will receive a second vote on Nov. 24 and would go into effect 30 days later.

"If we truly believe (the toys are dangerous), then we have just one course: to ban their sale and set a precedent for the state," Alan Katz told the council.

The dissenting vote came from Council Member Christine Reed, who said the ban would be difficult to enforce and does nothing to curtail the possession of toy guns.

Only sales are outlawed under the ordinance. State legislation going into effect next year already bans the brandishing of replica firearms "in a threatening manner."

Council members heard from anti-toy gun activist and actress Michelle Phillips and one toy store owner.

"You are going overboard with this. . . . Let's ban the real guns. Let's get them out of the way," said toy store owner Jack Arian.

The city had notified 43 businesses that sell toys in Santa Monica so they could send representatives to Tuesday night's meeting, but only Arian appeared.

City Atty. Robert Myers had recommended against the ban because the availability of toy guns elsewhere in the state made the ordinance virtually impossible to enforce.

"While the sale of replica firearms will be prohibited, their possession in public places will be permitted. Consequently . . . they still can give rise to alarm . . . when displayed in public," Myers said in a staff report to the council.

The ban, violation of which would be a misdemeanor, applies to realistic-looking replica firearms and includes BB guns, air rifles and hobby models.

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