Bob Menendez: You're Damn Right I'm Going to Take Your (Toy) AR-15 Away
You know what the problem is with toys these days? They're just too much fun. But don't you worry, because Senator Bob Menendez (D-Somehow Acquitted) is all over it.
The New Jersey Democrat, along with fellow busybodies Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) are "urging action" from the Consumer Product Safety Commission on the vital issue of toy guns that look cool. They demand that federal regulators "issue new, stricter controls on toy, imitation, air and BB guns" because the existing regulations allow for toy guns that don't look totally dorky.
Except... they already do look totally dorky. As Menendez's office admitted in his own Very Important Press Release on the matter, "Current regulations require ‘a blaze orange plug inserted in the barrel of such toy, lookalike, or imitation firearm,’ or that toy guns be brightly colored singly or in combination with specified colors, have an orange marking on the barrel's exterior, or be made fully of transparent or translucent materials."
In other words, the modern toy version of Priceness Leia's sexy little black pistol is required to look like this:
If you don't have young children and aren't aware of how desperately uncool modern toy guns are required to look by law, check the Amazon listings for Star Wars blasters. What you'll find is a selection of orange and white crapola so lame-looking that my friends would have pantsed me for bringing one of those things over to their house to play.
I suppose the senators want us to rest safe, knowing that they won't sit still for one minute longer while "F15.06 subcommittee for ASTM F589-17, Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Non-Powder Guns" remains hopelessly out of date. Perhaps under the revised version of ASTM F589-17, children's toy guns will come in no color other than hot pink, have a nine-inch-diameter fake flower permanently plugged into the barrel, and feature a billboard-style sign sticking up from where the sights would be, with "Hands Up, Don't Shoot!" embossed in glow-in-the-dark block letters.
Because, weeeeee, fun.
Menendez worries that the current regulations are too soft, because the "orange tips are easily removed or camouflaged," but he doesn't know the half of it. Forty years ago when I became the very excited owner of a new Han Solo toy blaster pistol, my excitement turned to disappointment when I opened the box and found that the actual toy wasn't painted exactly to look like Han's. So I got out my trusty Tester Model Paint kit, and went about the very serious business of painting my toy to look as close to the movie prop as I possibly could. After detailing it, the toy still looked too plasticky for my tastes, so I went after it with a can of clear matte spray paint to take the shine off. Don't try to sell me, not even ten-year-old me, something labeled "Genuine Sights and Sounds from the Movie!" unless you can actually deliver the goods.
I do understand that there's a real issue of kids pointing toys guns at trigger-happy police offers, then getting shot dead by said cops. We have a genuine problem, mostly limited to our great cities, of undisciplined kids and twitchy police mixing together in unhealthy ways. Given the level of violent crime in, say, Democrat-run Chicago or Democrat-run Baltimore, I'd hate to be a police officer having to make an instant life-or-death decision about whether the kid who just drew on me is a gang-banger, or merely re-enacting his favorite moments from the Death Star escape sequence.
But my kids aren't in Chicago. They're not even in Denver. We're in the sleepy Colorado Springs exurbs, where seeing your backyard neighbor with a BB gun trying to stop squirrels from getting into his attic (true story) is just an everyday thing. The one time the police came to my driveway (there was an actual misunderstanding) in the 13 years we've lived here, the entire cul-de-sac stepped outside to gaze upon the police cruiser as though an endangered cheetah had taken up residence on my property. The odds of my kids drawing any kind of toy on a nervous cop are approximately nil.
So the thing is this. Keep making the dorky-looking toy guns for kids who live in areas where a dorky-looking toy gun might mean the difference between life and death. But not all of us live in the big city. Some of us, millions of us, chose to give up the benefits of city life to enjoy the quieter benefits of country life. Out here in the sticks, I can't get my kids Thai food at 3am or slip them a twenty and tell them to walk down to the corner movie theater and enjoy a show. But I can send my kids outside with the coolest Star Wars blaster in the known galaxy, without having to worry about them getting shot for real. Except, they don't make any cool Star Wars blasters anymore, and Bob Menendez wants to make them even dorkier still. All I'm asking -- and I shouldn't have to ask -- is to let us raise our kids in ways that allow them to enjoy all the benefits of the country life.
And if Menendez & Co. succeed in their busybody ways? I'm going to buy my boys a couple more stupid-looking Star Wars blasters, along with the biggest set of Tester paints you ever saw.