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Mayor Walsh Files Ordinance Banning Replica Handguns in Public Spaces

August 31, 2015

Mayor's Office

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Mayor's Office

BOSTON - Monday, August 31, 2015 - Mayor Martin J. Walsh today filed an ordinance banning replica handguns in public spaces. If approved by the Boston City Council, these regulations would take effect immediately.

"We've seen too many violent incidents this year, and we will do everything in our power to ensure the safety of Boston residents and visitors," said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. "This ordinance will send a strong message - that guns of all kinds, including imitation firearms, make our community dangerous. By engaging parents and guardians, we hope to create allies in our effort to remove replica firearms from the hands of our youth."  

The ordinance will increase public safety by banning replica handguns that are not clearly labeled in public spaces. So far this year, the Boston Police Department (BPD) has recovered over 100 replica handguns in connection with crimes. Given the authentic look of many of the replica guns on Boston's streets, residents and even police officers have a difficult time determining what is a real firearm versus an imitation firearm.

This ordinance will allow BPD to confiscate replica firearms and require the owner to pick up the confiscated replica firearm in person at the district station. If a replica handgun is confiscated from someone under the age of 18, BPD will notify the parent or guardian that the minor was found with a replica handgun in a public space, and the parent or guardian will have the option to retrieve the replica firearm. BPD will not release a replica handgun directly to the minor.

"Replica guns have become a big issue for us. We all too often encounter young people who are carrying these fake guns and even though they are fake, the public and police don't know they are," said Commissioner William B. Evans. "Our goal is to make the city the safest place it can be and this ordinance will help remind the public and residents of the dangers these replica guns present."

The goal of the legislation is to make residents aware of the danger of replica handguns and increase the dialogue about the consequences of replica handguns with Boston's young people.

 "It is unnecessary and irresponsible for manufacturers to make recreational or toy imitation firearms which by sight cannot be differentiated from a real gun," said State Representative Dan Cullinane. "No one, especially a police officer who has the burden of making a split second decision, should ever have to guess if a gun is real. These replica firearms have no place in public spaces. I am grateful to Mayor Walsh for leading on this important public safety issue in Boston. I look forward to working with the Mayor and our colleagues in government to make these meaningful changes in both the City and the Commonwealth."

"We need to afford our law enforcement officials every tool possible in an ongoing effort to keep them and the public safe," said Councilor Frank Baker.  "I support any measure that allows our officers to do their job effectively and helps to prevent a potential tragedy due to a replica handgun."

"The last thing we need in our city, as we struggle to improve police and community relations, is a tragedy involving a toy gun that looks real.  In order to avoid tragedies like the one in Cleveland, OH, we need parents to be just as determined as law enforcement to spread the word and change the culture around letting our children play with these replica guns," said Reverend Jeffrey Brown of Twelfth Baptist Church.  "I applaud the Mayor on this move, and urge the council to pass the measure."

Mayor Walsh is dedicated to providing safe and secure neighborhoods where every resident can thrive. The Mayor's Office of Public Safety and the BPD have been actively engaged in local communities to change the trajectory of those involved in violence. Working side by side with a large cross section of City, social service and community based agencies, a wide variety of opportunity driven initiatives have been established; including career pathways into the trade unions and other private sector jobs and a partnership with John Hancock, YouthConnect and the Office of Public Safety to identify those 11 - 14-year-olds most vulnerable to become involved in high risk behavior.