Rise in realistic toy guns pose a serious danger to kids, police say

Toy gun seized by Dutch police
Police took this toy gun from an 11-year-old boy playing on a street in Den Haag (photo: Politie)Police took this toy gun from an 11-year-old boy playing on a street in Den Haag (photo: Politie)

Police in the Netherlands launched a campaign on Friday asking parents and children to stop bringing toy guns and fake weaponry onto the streets for their own safety. Authorities say there has been an increase in the number of incidents where officers encounter young people who are carrying toys that look exactly like real firearms.

“Because the toy guns look so real, officers will often react on the street as if it were a real threat involving firearms,” police said. “In an extreme scenario, officers in such a situation could decide that they need to shoot.”

There were 140 such incidents reported by police officers in 2015, up from 125 in 2014. The figures correspond to a 12 percent rise, caused in part by changes to the European Toys Directive in 2014.

Police are asking parents not to purchase real-looking toy weapons for their children, and to instead look for the CE Marking on packaging to indicate the toy is acceptable for use in the European Economic Area. Authorities ask that parents and children notify them if they see toy guns that are not sold with this mark, as they may be seized by police or the Netherlands product safety agency NVWA.

Weapons that resemble real firearms are forbidden from the streets, restaurants and shopping areas, the police reminded.