Press Releases

Proper toy gun enforcement with children being reviewed by city leaders

By: Chiara Morrow

In what most consider innocent acts of child play, toy guns are taking a turn from the characters of “cops and robbers” that have evolved from a favorite past time. The bad guy versus good guy scene is subject to play out in real life circumstances, even at the death of a child.

Tamir Rice was an innocent 12-year old playing in the snow at a public park not far from his Cleveland home. His mother watched from her window as he tossed occasional snow ball in the air. It wasn’t until he pulled out his plastic handcrafted toy, magnum look-alike pellet gun and playfully waived it in the air. What he didn’t know was that a stranger not too far away contacted police to investigate his playful gestures. When police arrived to find Tamir sitting in a gazebo setting in the park, shots were fired at the young boy. No questions asked. Presumption of danger rang out through shots that took the innocent life of a child who was simply imagining that same danger in his curious mind and childlike world.

According to the City of Birmingham Code Book Sec 11-6-39 Shooting Toy Weapons “No person shall project or cause to be projected any gravel, marbles, shot or other missile by means of any Flobert rifle, air gun, slingshot, gravel shooter, blowgun, rubber sling or implement or device of like character; however, such projection shall not be unlawful if conducted as a part of a safety education program entirely within the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center with the permission of the civic center authority.”

This code signifies the protected measures that most should be aware of. However, at the expense of one losing their life, especially a child, these same measures should come equipped with common sense.

Councilor Seyram Selase from the Anniston City Council, recently spoke before the Birmingham City Council to address the case of Tamir Rice and sought to unite everyone on the topic that could save a future life. Councilor Steven Hoyt, chairman of the Public Safety Committee agreed to continue to push the topic and hold a forum and take proactive steps to let parents know the dangers of the appearance of toy guns.

“We have to be mindful of all incidents that could affect the safety of our youth,” Councilor Hoyt said. “The tragedies that could overwhelm families far outweigh the cost of being educated and mindful of the toys parents purchase for their children.”

Parents in the Birmingham and all over the United States were outraged at the death of Tamir Rice. One local parent said she always wants her children to be mindful, even if they are away with friends.

“When they go outside and play, you just never know what could happen and I teach my children about safety especially when they are away from home,” said Crystal King, a mother three of children in the Birmingham area. “I always like to supervise them because you never know where danger could be lurking.”

The story of Tamir Rice is one that we hope will be the final occurrence. Our measures of future prevention of a toy gun scenario should amplify a cry to our justice system to also enforce proper protocol to law enforcement when addressing children who may just be at play.