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Online Retailers Agree to Stop Selling Realistic Toy Guns in N.Y.

New York's attorney general this week cracked down on 30 online retailers who were realistic toy guns through that violated state law.
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Realistic toy guns are permanently off the Christmas list for residents of New York state.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced this week that 30 retailers who illegally sold toy guns through Amazon’s third-party marketplace platform have agreed to halt the practice.

“When toy guns are mistaken for real guns, there can be tragic consequences,” Schneiderman said of the latest case in a press release. “New York State law prohibits the sale of imitation weapons that closely resemble real guns. I will continue to enforce this law so that we can avoid putting both children and law enforcement officials at risk.”

This new agreement requires that Amazon’s retailers comply with the state law, which only allows the sale of toy guns that are “colored entirely white, bright red, bright orange, bright yellow, bright green, bright blue, bright pink or bright purple or a combination of these colors.”

The announcement comes on the heels of an investigation last year of major retailers, including Amazon, Sears, Kmart and Wal-Mart, that led to an agreement to halt sales of the toys. The retailers, which were found to be selling the realistic toys in stores and online for shipment to New York state residents, also were collectively fined more than $300,000.

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At least four people have been killed, and one child seriously wounded, in New York state since 1997 as a result of law enforcement officers mistaking toy guns for real guns, Schneiderman’s office said last year.

The issue of replica guns reached national attention last year following the fatal shooting of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old Cleveland boy who was killed when local police officers mistook his fake gun for a real gun.

Others states with laws on the books similar to New York's include California, Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Ohio and Washington, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Parents have been divided on the topic for years. For many, buying a child any kind of toy gun is out of the question. "I never want my kids to run out of ways to pretend to kill each other!" wrote one mom sarcastically on the Facebook page for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. "I love that we have toy guns. I keep them with our Pretend Ebola Vials, Mini Nuclear Warheads, Toy Heroin Needles, and Imaginary Arsenic."

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Other parents believe that kids will play with guns whether they’re allowed to or not. “Knowing my boys, they’ll end up simply turning innocent items like spoons and wands into weapons, anyway,” wrote blogger Scary Mommy in a popular post debating the battle over toy guns.

Toy and trends expert Scott Steinberg told NBC News that some parents mistakenly believe that children won’t enjoy playing with toy guns that are easy to differentiate from the real thing.

“Kids playing with toy guns is not an issue in and of itself -- as long as they clearly look like toys,” he said. “Parents should be aware of the larger issues when shopping for a gun. For example, would one that is not as realistic be preferable? To the child, this option would be every little bit as satisfying, and nowhere near as controversial and alarming to the casual bystander.”