CARROLLTON, Texas, Nov. 20 (UPI) -- The Carrollton City Council has restricted the possession of realistic toy guns in public after a recent scare in which a police officer mistook a replica gun held by a child for the real thing.
An amended firearms ordinance unanimously approved by the council Tuesday night would prohibit the possession of the toy guns by minors and make it illegal for anybody to use them in a way that could cause public alarm. It takes effect immediately.
Police said the ordinance is aimed at replica guns patterned after real firearms used by the police and the military. They often shoot plastic pellets and some models are designed for use in paintball games and other war games as sport.
Carrollton Police Chief David James said the fear is that such a gun carried outside the home or yard by a child could be mistaken for a real gun and lead to a tragedy.
"We'd like to remove both the possibility of somebody else shooting that person or the police shooting that person as a mistake," James told The Dallas Morning News.
A recent scare in neighboring Coppell raised concern with Carrollton officials. A police officer spotted a child carrying what he thought was a real gun but after a short chase discovered it was a toy replica that shoots plastic pellets. No one was injured.
James also said officers have confiscated replica guns from minors recently after they were used to intimidate other children.
The ordinance has drawn objections from some gun owners.
James Dark, executive director of the Texas State Rifle Association, said Carrollton's weapons ordinance has been misused.
"In its amended form, this ordinance is a significant cause of concern to us as an organization and indeed will be to many gun owners," he said.