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Mayor Walsh signs ordinance banning replica handguns in public spaces

November 9, 2015

Mayor's Office

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Mayor's Office

Mayor Martin J. Walsh today signed an ordinance banning replica handguns in public spaces throughout the City of Boston. Effective immediately, this ordinance is aimed at increasing public safety by making residents aware of the danger of replica handguns and increasing the dialogue about the consequences of replica handguns with Boston's young people.

"It is up to us to work together as a community on every angle of the gun issue to keep our neighborhoods safe," said Mayor Walsh. "The safety of Boston's residents and visitors is a top priority, and I am proud to sign this ordinance banning replica handguns in public spaces which will help us in our larger mission of raising community awareness and engagement to remove replica firearms from the hands of our youth."

To date, the Boston Police Department (BTD) has recovered over 150 replica handguns in connection with crimes. Given the authentic look of many of the replica handguns on the streets, residents and even police officers have a difficult time determining what is a real firearm versus an imitation firearm. 

"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 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. 

"Mayor Walsh deserves tremendous credit for his leadership on the issue of replica firearms. He is absolutely correct that these imitation guns endanger both our City's young people and our police officers and have no place at all in public spaces," said State Representative Dan Cullinane, who has filed legislation on replica guns at the State House. "It is unnecessary and irresponsible for manufacturers and retailers to make and sell imitation guns which by sight cannot be differentiated from a real gun. No one, especially not a police officer with the burden of making a split second decision, should ever have to guess if a gun is real. I applaud Mayor Walsh for his action on this important public safety issue and I look forward to working with the Mayor and my colleagues in the legislature to make meaningful change on this issue of imitation firearms statewide."

"They call these gun toys, but they are not toys when put in the wrong hands and used to commit crimes," said District 3 City Councilor Frank Baker. "I see very few reasons for anyone to buy a replica hand gun. We have seen too many violent incidents this year and this ordinance is one step toward ensuring the safety of our communities."

Mayor Walsh is dedicated to providing safe and secure neighborhoods where every resident can thrive. The Mayor's Office of Public Safety Initiatives 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 opportunities 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 must vulnerable to become involved in high risk behavior.