Schneier on Security
A blog covering security and security technology.
« Security for Implantable Medical Devices |
| Fake CCTV Cameras »
April 16, 2010
Guns Painted to Look Like Toys
Last weekend I was in New York, and saw posters on the subways warning people about real guns painted to look like toys. And today I find these pictures from the Baltimore police department. Searching, I find this article from 2006 New York.
I had no idea this was a thing.
Posted on April 16, 2010 at 6:28 AM
• 80 Comments
To receive these entries once a month by e-mail, sign up for the Crypto-Gram Newsletter.
I could have sworn I saw you on Broadway way-downtown around 8:40 in the morning, Monday or Tuesday. I was about to yell "Bruce!" but I figured, naw, no way - he's not even an East Coaster, what are the odds.
Which just goes to show that all laws requiring toy guns to look different then real guns are utter bollocks (Not only the US has those laws, Netherlands too, for example).
A gun is a gun is a gun - wether it's a real firearm or an airsoft gun doesn't matter. Carry a gun around in public, and you HAVE to expect to be treated like it's a real firearm - tough luck.
Baltimore police also publishes the link to the vendor. It makes me wonder whether they are warning or advertising...
It's awfully nice of the Baltimore PD to de-classify the marketing photos from Jim's Gunsupply.
What I'd most like to know is what kind of community it's cool to show up with a hot pink "Hello Kitty" AK-47.
Agreeing with Juergen. The link posted by Bruce with the photos of firearms painted pink is not always a case of someone trying to make a real gun look like a toy gun, but in fact maybe trying to make a gun more palatable for female shooters.
The fact of the matter is that all peace officers need to be trained to treat all firearms, real or not, as if they are real. Especially in the states where concealed carry and open carry is becoming more and more common.
@Martin - Lol, "...what kind of community it's cool to show up with a hot pink "Hello Kitty" AK-47."
Hmmm, Mexican drug lords...nope, Michigan militia...no way, Taliban....not a chance, Japanese Yakuza...well, maybe.
Cheap and effective method of disguising a gun?
I find myself agreeing with Lauer's statement that "Kids are in danger when they aren't educated on gun safety." As a parent, I'm not comfortable with the idea of my child playing with toy guns. On the other hand, I would be comfortable with buying her an airsoft gun for supervised target shooting when she's older.
Yet again, politicians are trying to solve the wrong problem with the goal of reducing risk to zero: "even if a single death happens as a result of someone thinking these guns are toys, that's one death too many, the mayor said." He brings up the hypothetical situation of a child finding a brightly colored gun and playing with it because he thinks it's a toy. The problem isn't what color the gun is, the problem is that the child is unsupervised in a situation where he has access to a loaded gun and hasn't been educated about safety.
Finally, I need to know whether this awful pun was intentional: "A bright red or yellow gun could trigger a child to play with a gun that's real and loaded...."
But watch out for ontological drift. In my state, which has rigorous gun controls, I'm never quite sure about my right to carry a caulk gun, an inch-long replica of a Tokarev on a key chain, or a picture of a gun on a T-shirt. Or even just be glad to see Mae West.
Or for that matter, whether I can gun my engine, rifle through my desk drawers looking for something, or even grab onto the gunwale when boarding a boat.
Interesting, but something like that is only effective until people become aware of the possibility. The first hooligan to think of it may have gained some advantage, but over the long term it's not going to significantly alter the balance of power between criminals and law enforcement (or even between criminals and honest citizens).
Of course, if it catches on and starts drawing out people's artistic urges, it could potentially catch on and become a hobby like computer case modding. I can just imagine the blog where some guy shows step by step how he modded his glock to look like a squirt gun, complete with photo-realistic painting of the water reservoir as it would look through transparent plastic of a real water pistol. Then somebody else would come along and mod an uzi to look like a bunny slipper...
I just realized that if I were ever going to own a firearm, I would want it modded to look like a type II phaser.
Among the oft-cited reasons behind the various attempts at legislation to make toy guns look less like real guns was the fact that a police officer has only a split second to ascertain whether the object in the hand of a person of concern is a firearm. The theory goes that if you make toys blatantly appear to be toys, a store owner, gas station attendant, or police officer will realize that they are not really in mortal danger and will therefore not shoot a toy-weilding robber.
What nobody writing these laws invisioned is that the bad guys would figure out that by making their weapons look like toys, they suddenly made themselves far less likely to be shot at before they could at least get a shot in first.
The good guys and the bad guys know how hard it is on most police officers, departments, families, and public at large when it's found out that the person thought to be an imminent threat at a brief but critical moment was really a toy-wielding teen. The toy marking was intended to reduce this risk by slowing down the officers' reactions. Obviously that thought process had a flaw ...
...very risky for anybody to display anything that even remotely looks like a gun-- cops are trigger-happy enough already, especially in big cities.
Following American newspaper reports, one commonly reads instances where cops shot unarmed civilians who they claimed 'appeared' to have or were 'reaching' for a gun/weapon.
Also been a few cases where cops shot children with toy guns... in similar circumstances.
Am I the only one here to think that if you remove the firearms there wouldn't be a problem to begin with...?
When spraypaint is outlawed only outlaws will own spraypaint.
"Am I the only one here to think that if you remove the firearms there wouldn't be a problem to begin with...?"
Bound to happen, criminals aren't all stupid. This is just the next step in the arms race between politicians/police and criminals.
That said I really hope the solution they come up with isn't to make painting guns illegal. Which is likely to be the first thing a politician comes up with.
Louis: No, you're not the only one--but you're among the many, many incorrect people. You -can't- remove all the guns; even if you could magically make every professionally-manufactured firearm on earth disappear simultaneously, there would be a sudden uptick in home blacksmithing and other firearm production. It's been possible for millennia; why do you think removing the professional versions will quell amateur production?
I'm sure I'd read something similar a few years back (probably on this site) where criminals were painting their firearms bright florescent colours; the idea was that it gave a split second advantage over the Police as they expected guns to be either black or silver.
Something which would likely have an unfortunate corollary for any unfortunate soul just reaching for their purse or wallet.
"...very risky for anybody to display anything that even remotely looks like a gun-- cops are trigger-happy enough already, especially in big cities.
Following American newspaper reports, one commonly reads instances where cops shot unarmed civilians who they claimed 'appeared' to have or were 'reaching' for a gun/weapon.
Also been a few cases where cops shot children with toy guns... in similar circumstances."
It's almost as if officers need better training, especially when it comes to people legally carrying (openly or concealed)--which happens in cities all over the country every day, and the majority of cops barely raise an eyebrow.
See http://opencarry.org/ and http://www.carryconcealed.net/
Bloomberg wants any restrictions on guns he can get, and any bad publicity for the gun industry he can engineer. This is political theater. The kits and guns exist (If I'm not mistaken, the Taurus in the Baltimore pictures is a factory gun) but I've seen no credible evidence that they have been used for criminal purposes.
So, the question is whether it is more palatable to have real guns mistaken as toys and LEOs put at increased risk, or toy guns mistaken as real and civilians put at increased risk. Easy call for me. YMMV.
It seems this is an unintended consequence of an attempt to improve security. Years ago, we passed laws that required toy guns to look distinctly different than the real thing. In theory, this prevents people from robbing liquor stores with the light gun ripped off an old Duck Hunt video game.
Years and years of conditioning has lulled everyone into associating bright colors with harmless toy. And now that can be exploited.
I'd rather be held up with a realistic toy gun than a real gun that looks like a toy.
"Differently" colored or customized guns is nothing new. Been around for many, many years.
Vast advancements in new coatings, colorful oxidizers, plating and metals are being experimented with.
The units linked to in this article aren't representative of everything happening in this market cause the market is so huge.
or, Baltimore PD easily fooled by random internet pictures of painted guns....
So, let me get this straight...
The NYC Council decided that a good way for police to avoid shooting people with toy guns was to mandate that they be painted neon.
It follows that the expectation was allowing police to reasonably assume that if a gun-shaped item was neon, it was a toy gun.
Which only follows that anyone wanting to conceal the appearance of having a real weapon when it was visible, probably has a better shot at it (no pun intended) if it were colored to look like a gun that police have a reasonable expectation of being a toy.
So, if I'm getting this right, how on earth did the NYC council not see this coming miles away? I want to believe this was just a deposit on an FUD campaign fund down the road, because I can scarcely stomach the idea of people that foolish sitting on a council for the largest urban populace in our country.
I mean really?
I'd like to see their sales figures and at least an estimate on how many real painted guns are running around.
Puts me in mind of the warning coloration of the animals adopt that mimics more dangerous predators but inversly.
Instead of the prey animal resembling a dangerous or predator animal.
The predator is going crypto adopting more the camofloge of the harmless. I'm sure there are patterns on this from nature.
The correct response to this maybe not to ban guns but to ban toy guns. That's the only situation the coloration is there to protect. And there is no constitutional right to bear a toy gun that I'm aware of.
I'd say its under a public health or social hygiene theory. Toy guns can be linked to XX number of child fatalities (in the same way lead paint can). Therefore banned.
Make the danger obvious. Gun = threat. That's the strategy behind open carry after all. "Don't mess with me I'm a bad, armed, dude." Warning coloration like we see on coral snakes. So the higher order predators (LEO) that prey on the dangerous animals don't get their prey animals confused and just instead shoot people who are armed.
@Scott K and MCB, Here in East Asia theres a whole lot of people, laws and different governments which prove that Americas liberal gun laws are a big mistake, the proof is our kids arent getting their head blown off every 3 hours while we have 5 times the population.
How many crimes have been committed with such firearms (violent crimes in particular)? Bloomberg doesn't like guns and doesn't let reality-based assessments interfere with his prejudices. The "painted gun" threat is just another of his campaigns (one of which earned him a rebuke from the DOJ for employing PIs in "stings" outside of his jurisdiction).
For the bemused "hello kitty" commenters, google "Kalashnikitty"
The pink ones are cute, actually. Perfect for the aspiring Hello Kitty terrorist.
@Shane: I think the New York Council did the right thing actually. They had kids running around with toy guns that looked real, resulting in shot kids. They mandated colored toy guns, resulting in kids running around with toy guns that don't look real. True, a *small* percentage of those kids still have old 'realistic' toy guns (risk to them), and an even smaller % has their dad's loaded Hello Kitty Glock (risk to cop). Still, the mandate adjusts the %'s to make it much easier for a cop to make a snap decision that the kid + colored gun = safe. *His* job has maybe become less safe, now that he has more decisions to process on deciphering a fake/real gun in the hands of an adult and especially a teen, but that's arguably an acceptable transfer of risk (from child to older perp/cop).
@Andre: That is, indeed, the question, but it's only rhetorical because the only reasonable response for LEO is to assume anything pointed in their direction is a real weapon. Since you cannot effectively legislate away the survival instinct, the only solution I can conceive is for parents to teach gun safety to their kids EVEN if they don't own a weapon, and drill in the message that pointing things at policemen can get you killed, don't do it.
I'm afraid our chance to ever become as peaceable as Canada, or Hong Kong, has long since passed. We tend to value the rights of the individual over the needs of the community. We value liberty over safety, or at least we used to. These Enlightenment-era philosophies have real costs. Even if we agree US gun laws are an accident of history and that the presence of guns in the criminal subculture leads to excess violence, the sort of American law enforcement organization that would be required to effectively collect our 200 million guns would make the soliders at Tiananmen look like greeters at WalMart by comparison.
I've had multiple break-ins to my home by intruders who were not carrying guns. I'm a smaller guy and wouldn't fare well taking on your typical home invader. Can you give me one good explanation as to how my wife and kids would be safer without a gun in my home?
I don't see a net advantage to a criminal painting his gun to look like a toy. He isn't likely to try to commit a crime around police and it is FAR more likely that he wants his gun to SCARE his victims and back up his feelings of masculinity than that he wants his gun to be mistaken for a toy.
@Nolo promittere "wants his gun to SCARE his victims "
Just so. That's why I want to see numbers, not wishes, intents, possible harm...you know guesses.
How many gun paint stores are there?
What are their annual sales?
How many painted guns are being involved in police casualty reports?
Is there a problem or is it people saying "I don't like it. Must be wrong."
Number of guns aren't the only relevant factor Ian. Canada has as many guns as we do per capita, come from similar cultural backgrounds yet their gun violence is much lower than ours.
Statistically a home with a pool is a much greater danger to child than a home with a firearm. Even a painted one
@MCB oh the irony of the statement "soldiers at Tiananmen"
This from the article crackes me up
"A bright red or yellow gun could trigger a child to play with a gun that's real and loaded, or could prompt a policeman to shoot at a fake. "
Children playing with guns = parenting fail
@Louis "Am I the only one here to think that if you remove the firearms there wouldn't be a problem to begin with...?"
No, but you're the only one who thinks it's possible. If you have a magic wand that will disappear all lethal firearms and prevent their reintroduction (without, say, wiping out humanity), by all means, wave it!
@mcb at April 16, 2010 11:30 AM
Unfortunately, I expect you're right - putting the genie back into the bottle isn't easy. Having said that, protection of liberty and individual rights are not correlated with the number of guns floating about a country - actually in-the-main the opposite tends to be true.
Britain seems to do not too badly with the whole preservation of liberty and individual rights yet has one of the most restrictive gun law in the world: even our normal Police do not carry fire arms, being limited specially trained units.
@Sean at April 16, 2010 11:44 AM
That's an obvious answer: as soon as the intruders figure out that the occupants of the houses they tend to burgle keep firearms, they'll do the same. So instead of the intruders running off when they hear you moving, or at worst you getting a nasty knock on the head - they'll likely shoot you dead.
We manage to deal with petty theives here without much to-do and we don't carry guns. Plus it encourages more of a community spirit for a group of you to go out, catch the wee blighters and kick seven shades of s**te out of them... something people can come together over ;-)
I was a bit surprised and uneasy the first time I saw a pink .22 rifle in a local gunshop.
The coloring seemed to be silly, and a little dangerous. I was pleased to notice that it had a stout lock (of the vending-machine cylindrical type) that held the bolt open so that not only was it impossible to fire it, but easy to inspect and see that there was no round in the chamber.
At a recent gathering of Democrats here in Texas we talked about gun control. A retired cop in our group opined that gun control meant holding your weapon with both hands. There was general agreement with the sentiment. BTW, we are probably one of the most left-wing Democratic groups around.
Wow, I TOTALLY want to paint my .22 hot pink with a Hello Kitty logo now.
We MUST ban PAINT !!!!!!!
"Britain seems to do not too badly with the whole preservation of liberty and individual rights yet has one of the most restrictive gun law in the world."
Of course the UK is the most violent country in the EU, with a higher crime rate than the RSA or the USA...so access to guns may not be the whole problem either.
"We manage to deal with petty theives here without much to-do and we don't carry guns. Plus it encourages more of a community spirit for a group of you to go out, catch the wee blighters and kick seven shades of s**te out of them..."
Back in the day I had a security officer in our Reading office who repelled several burglars with his savate skills and a mop handle. When he made his report to the police he was told he was fortunate the burglar didn't stick around to press charges for assault.
I call bullshit.
There are numerous companies doing things like this and have for years. It's very popular, in the gun community, to customize a gun. And yes, frequently enough, it looks as ridiculous as these examples. This isn't a case of people trying to pass off real guns as it a case of people with no taste designing firearms makeovers.
Stupid or disingenuous, I would like to see proof that this is a problem and not just not idiot in the police department letting their paranoia out. I understand the "potential" for problems. Like so many other potential problems we spend time and money solving, we don't another excuse to chase our collective tails.
Painted guns are dangerous, lets ban paint!
I agree with Louis (and others) that the guns are the cause of the problem, not the paint.
I don't know about the UK, but in the Netherlands, where I live, there are very few firearm fatalities, because there simply aren't that many guns around. Besides that, getting caught with an illegal firearm means you get to spend the next year or so in a nice hotel with a lot of locked doors.
I don't know the exact figures, but our firearm related fatality rate is more than 20 time lower (per capita) than in the US. The few people who do get shot, are usually drug dealers or other criminals. Normal folks don't get shot here often, the criminals just shoot each other. Fine by me.
No burglar would be stupid enough to bring a gun, because it's a far more serious offense than burglary.
I've never heard of a case (in the Netherlands or the surrounding countries) where a homemade firearm was used; I suspect that's just another fabricated excuse for not banning guns.
Now I know that it would be difficult to remove all the guns from the country, but making ownership or sale of a firearm or ammunition a serious crime would help.
The concept of making guns look like toys is nothing more than simple camouflage. Criminals have been doing this for years and the fact the New York City Council find it surprising and didn't previously think would happen concerns me greatly.
It's the same idea as hiding illicit substances in a container that you expect police to not search.
"Britain seems to do not too badly with the whole preservation of liberty and individual rights yet has one of the most restrictive gun law in the world: even our normal Police do not carry fire arms, being limited specially trained units."
That statement is completely incorrect when applied to the United States. The right to bear arms is an individual right codified by our Constitution. There is no way to balance this individual right while also creating strict gun control laws anymore than you could protect the right to free speech while also severely restricting it.
Another thing to look at is the fact that our gun crime is much higher than yours. But you're rate of violent crime is higher than ours by a notable margin. Switzerland, which is also a nation that takes its right to bear arms seriously, has roughly the same gun crime rate as the United States while also having a much lower violent crime rate than the U.K.
"That's an obvious answer: as soon as the intruders figure out that the occupants of the houses they tend to burgle keep firearms, they'll do the same. So instead of the intruders running off when they hear you moving, or at worst you getting a nasty knock on the head - they'll likely shoot you dead."
The most likely outcome is the criminals will burgle somebody else's residence. Realize that criminals will go for the easiest source of income. Hence if they know you're armed they will most likely take the safest (for them) route and rob somebody whom they believe to be unarmed.
"We manage to deal with petty theives here without much to-do and we don't carry guns. Plus it encourages more of a community spirit for a group of you to go out, catch the wee blighters and kick seven shades of s**te out of them... something people can come together over ;-)"
Have you ever seen a rural community in this country? Trust me they have no problem coming together to find the person who committed a crime against one of their neighbors and bring them to justice. Trust me if you rob a farmer you'll probably have every one of his neighbors looking for you.
I remember having this argument years ago in the context of costuming at a science fiction convention. There was a policy of "no real-looking guns" (meaning prop guns), and a number of incidents over disagreements about what was "real looking". I suppose it was just another case of fandom leading the main stream.
My solution was to manage "gun problems" based on the holder's behavior, rather than what the prop looked like. I thought the policy worked well, but the old policy came back after I stopped working operations. I can only conjecture as to why.
@Dave "If you have a magic wand that will disappear all lethal firearms and prevent their reintroduction, by all means, wave it!"
Thus instantaneously bringing back Might Makes Right. What do you have against old people and the weak being able to defend themselves?
those aren't real guns painted to look like toys. those are real guns painted to look like craazy privately owned guns.
if you want to paint a real gun to look like a toy, you paint the muzzle safety orange. everybody knows that.
Can't help but think back to at least two well publicized, controversial, shootings in the Big Apple based on police mistaking cell phones (and one assumes the victim's "furtive" moves to dial 911) for a weapon.
Since I've only heard of one child with a toy gun killed, one might presume it's more dangerous to carry a cell phone over there.
In any event, I find it hard to believe any gang banger would paint his gun to give himself a split second edge on one of New York's finest in a gun fight.
Given the current mayor's almost pathological hatred of firearms in civilian hands, this would seem to me just another anti-gun publicity stunt.
Not that folk aren't painting guns. I painted a rifle of mine with materials from Lauer. Fun project over several weeks last summer. Color scheme, desert camo. Blends right into the brush here in Arizona.
oh, i was just there too and noticed the same. sorry i missed you.
it's been a thing for a very long time so i didn't think much of it; at least the early 80s when toy were guns required to have bright colored tips, etc. installed.
before the 80s there were replicas very identical to real firearms that even loaded small blanks. i had a toy six-shooter that loaded gunpowder rounds. for a while i had a tommy-gun replica that fired water. the big ammo case was handy for water storage, but i always thought it strange how real it looked.
sadly all of the paint control seems for naught, since anyone can paint anything and they usually have reason to do so (personalization).
“Where once the fake gun was looking real, now the real gun is looking fake,” [Sgt. Manny Mendoza] said.
Never seen any evidence this is a trend to make real guns look like toys. The many I have seen that are painted up are like painting your racecar, or surfboard or anything else that is capable of being decorated and used for sport.
Many firearms are used for pure sporting purposes. Even if based on military firearms, they are used in action shooting on ranges. Some are decorated for fun, for expressing individuality in the usual ways, for comedy or irony. Google "DeWalt AR-15" as another example.
Those that shoot in organized, national or international team sports are sometimes underwritten in pretty much the same way as say racecar drivers. They get promotional money, or jobs doing testing and consulting for manufacturers. And get decorated guns for their televised sport shooting.
Donnelly wrote: "cops are trigger-happy enough already"
What's your citation on this? Law and Order?
Bloomberg's argument is pure folly-- if he thinks banning one kind of paint is going to stop a movie-plot threat, he better ban all kinds of paint. But remember, you only need eggs and pigment to make tempera paint, or linseed oil and pigment to make oil paint.
If he's going to argue his trigger happy cops will be placated by "normal looking guns", he better go look at what happened to a Brazilian electrician in London. The bobbies shot him in cold blood, and he wasn't toting any kind of hardware.
It's not the weapons, or the perceived weapons that are the issue with trigger happy cops, it's the cops with the itchy trigger fingers that need better training.
Bloomberg's plan will show the emperor has no clothes yet again, and next week, he'll be looking to ban something else that has little to no bearing on the real problems.
Why not look to the root of the problem, and figure out what motivates people to turn to crime and violence in the first place? Like taking CCTV cameras down and replacing them with boots on the ground, this would be a strategy that produces real security, not theatre.
Well Andrew; if that's your real name;
I went looking for the statistics to answer your question, and after a period of fruitless google searching (these things are normally easy). The only thing I could find is this.
So it seems that this is a sufficiently big problem that they are actually refusing to check how big it is. Apparently when they did keep these statistics "the figures were very embarrassing to a lot of police departments,". Hmm.
New York is giving up a chance to once again lead Fashion.
Seriously, if having a gun is all it takes to get shot, then cops shoud be killing cops, especially undercover, in record numbers.
Perhaps the problem is the high emotion high pitch super-focused training routines practiced in place of calm detachment and deliberation, which used to be the hallmarks of all public officers carrying guns.
Snap shooting just simply used to be not practiced, except by outlaws. Making it the public's collective responsibility is a macho excuse ethic, much like chase the car thief until innocent people get killed instead of using a radio to close the road.
The good source of real-life stories on "trigger-happy" cops is http://freedominourtime.blogspot.com
Actually, I'd feel much safer if cops were prohibited from carrying firearms - and private citizens were permitted to carry whatever they want.
I've never seen the marketing or discussion of the custom gun coloring kits as being intended to fool police officers. My impression was the products started-out offered for camo paint jobs (common for those who want "tactical" or hunting guns, many guns are sold in camo colors). The adding of the other, bright, colors was a natural evolution along with custom paint jobs. As in any enthusiast field gun enthusiasts customize their items just for the sake of having done so. This is no different than crazy paint jobs on cars, etc. Two other things that were happening that shaped this aesthetic was the ever-increasing number of plastic guns, often coming with factory colors other than blue/black, and a deliberate marketing of guns to women, often in pink color schemes.
As soon as there was talk of banning the color kits, there was a backlash with folks deliberately painting guns in garish colors as political statement. This is similar to how many gun owners want "scary black rifles" because that was the image used to push the assault weapons ban.
Think there may also be an intent to camouflage a gun so it is not as easily identified if glimpsed during concealed carry (while transferring from a vehicle, etc.). As most legal gun carry is strictly "concealed," this was a extension of that, but very different than trying to fool someone (cop or otherwise) that a drawn weapon is a toy.
@Shane - I suspect that a good part of the reason for the toy gun color requirement was to reduce interest in toy guns.
As a fairly typical (for the time and geography) kid, I was enamored with guns, military, etc. The goal among friends was to have a realistic looking toy gun. A vibrant toy gun would have immediately been spray painted or wrapped with all of dad's electrical tape.
Of course, I also had a stern grandfather who rather abruptly explained to me that you don't point even a toy gun at *anyone* who's not part of the game.
Anyway, what I love about this is the rampant, fear-fueled imagination shown by our politicians and police forces. This rather reflects the bizarre machinations dreamed up to 'secure' our airways. Of course, they don't address the practical approaches which have actually been employed (shoe/underwear bombers).
Hey, who needs strategy when you can just employ ridiculous, knee-jerk tactics? Slather a layer of imaginative fear-mongering on top there and you've got some great job security!
' But Steve Lauer said Bloomberg's demonstration was a foolish one because, said Lauer, the real gun was obvious: "Maybe the real gun is the one with a hole and a barrel?" '
I like that, a cop looking at a pink gun wondering if it is real has to look really closely and think, "Yes, I can see the barrel and the hole, and yes, it is pointed at me, I wonder if I have time to draw my own gun before I can see the bullet hole in my chest?"
Talk about a weak argument from Lauer.
I knew of a girl who claimed to have a pistol (don't remember what kind/may not have been told) who had put Hello Kitty stickers all over it. This was around 2003/2004.
John Luiten, try learning statistics. 2 cellphone holder were killed, out of about 7 million cellphone holders. 1 child with a toy gun was killed, out of maybe 1 million children with toy guns (certainly well under 3.5 million).
Everybody who attacked a group of cops with an axe was killed, all 1 of him. Does that make carrying a cellphone more dangerous than attacking a group of cops with an axe?
Guns and Americans - like fireworks and matches...
Despite being, broadly, against arming the general population, I think this is one area where taking guns away really wont change anything so @ louis I cant side with you here.
There are two groups of people with "neon guns" - kids with harmless weapons and criminal who want a disguised gun for what can only be assumed to be nefarious purposes. Taking guns away from criminals is what everyone is trying to do. Removing guns from children wont really do much.
Its an odd world where people are so trigger happy that guns had to be painted in the first place. If am being robbed I dont care if they have a toy gun or not, nothing I own is worth that risk (insurance is a wonderful thing but you have to be alive to fill in the claim forms) so trying to initiate a wild west gunfight was never really my thing. Paint them neon, dont paint them neon. If someone is carrying it you dont have to shoot them, you can ask them first. If they are pointing at a shopkeeper, well they are robbing the place toy or otherwise.
I fail to see the "gangbanger" who thinks a bright pink glock looks cool though... Am I really that out of touch with the youth?
@ Sean at April 16, 2010 11:44 AM
"I've had multiple break-ins to my home by intruders who were not carrying guns. I'm a smaller guy and wouldn't fare well taking on your typical home invader. Can you give me one good explanation as to how my wife and kids would be safer without a gun in my home?"
I have a few issues with this.
1 - having a gun doesnt appear to have prevented the home invasions.
2 - why take them on? They dont have guns so secure yourself in the bedroom, call for help and let them rob things. Then claim on the insurance.
3 - you only know they dont have guns *after* you have challenged them to a gun battle in your home. Strikes me as a dangerous place to have bullets flying around but YMMV.
4 - If you are being broken in to so often you need other security measures.
5 - What will you do when the criminals realise you have a gun and start bringing guns themselves? Are you happy to rush out into a group of people robbing your house brandishing your gun? Are you confident you can get enough first shot kills that there will be no return fire? Are you confident enough no one will be hurt in the crossfire?
I lived in South Africa for a short period of time (6 crappy months) and while I loved the place the crime was over the top. My house was broken into once by four people (recorded by employer provided CCTV). One of the burglars stood by the bedroom door and pointed a gun to shoot anyone coming out. I had the sense to lock myself inside and call the police. I am fairly confident that if I had gone out to "fight for my property" I wouldnt be here now.
I would rather claim on my contents insurance than my life insurance policy.
@ mcb at April 16, 2010 1:52 PM
"Of course the UK is the most violent country in the EU, with a higher crime rate than the RSA or the USA...so access to guns may not be the whole problem either."
Really? I hear things like this bandied around but see very little actual data that supports it, and my personal opinions are biased. (*)
It would be interesting to see what are the actual figures that show there is (for example) more violent crime per capita in the UK than in the US.
(*) as a tourist or foreign contractor I am likely to be subject to more crime than a local so personal experience in other countries cant really count. If it does, I've been a victim of crime in US / RSA *much* more than in the UK....
@ Christopher Burg at April 16, 2010 2:29 PM
I agree with your initial point. While I am certainly not in favour of having a population of people (remember half are below average intelligence) walking around with guns, I also appreciate it is a right in the US.
Removing it would, if nothing else, damage the rights and freedoms you have - why not go the whole hog and get rid of all of the rights if you find them distasteful.
I may not be a fan of people having desert eagles in their underpants but who am I to say they cant?
"The most likely outcome is the criminals will burgle somebody else's residence. Realize that criminals will go for the easiest source of income. Hence if they know you're armed they will most likely take the safest (for them) route and rob somebody whom they believe to be unarmed."
So concealed firearms are pointless. You need to be standing in front of your property pointing the gun at passers-by to prove you have it and have it ready.
Having a gun in your scenario may deter the robbers returning (and there is some element of the message getting passed around other criminals) but in the absence of organised crime targetting your house, burglars rarely make such a well informed risk:benefit decision.
The average crackhead looking for a TV will rob your house based on other criteria than worrying about you shooting him. (and not in the way he wants).
Even if it worked as a deterrent, it still fails the escalation issue. You have to buy a gun, cos your neighbours have guns and without one you will get robbed more.
Then what happens when everyone has a gun?
Basically, I accept that in the US there is a right for people to have guns. I feel getting rid of this right is a BADTHING, no matter what the good intention behind it. Doesnt mean I think there is a good reason for having one.
Heres an interesting tidbit. The rate of violent crime keeps dropping in the US and yet gun ownership is at an all time high
@ John Hardin at April 16, 2010 2:55 PM
"Thus instantaneously bringing back Might Makes Right. What do you have against old people and the weak being able to defend themselves?"
What do you have against people who are bad shots, mentally imbalanced, scared of loud noises or simply too poor to afford a gun being able to defend themselves?
Guns just chance what is classed as "Might" they dont take it away. It also means that instead of defending yourself against someone who is big and strong, you are defending against a disgruntled EMO with a grudge against the world, you most people could slap down if he attacked you with a pen knife. Now he has an Uzi....
I think this is most usable for convicts to hide firearms. You can mix it in with a child's toys and the police may not look twice at it. It looks like a toy in a box of other toys... In the context of on the street, well an adult running around with a pink gun wouldn't probably deceive anyone, but if it's a kid running around playing with the 1911 in 3 primary colors, that kinda looks like a toy until it goes bang. A squad car might drive right by with the kid waving it around in plain sight otherwise.
This (multicolored - guns looking suspiciously/ironically like toys) doesn't create any new problems or threats. We still live in the same world. The same people will have them (good guys and bad guys). This is just another footnote on the page about concealment.
>There are two groups of people with "neon guns" - kids with harmless
>weapons and criminal who want a disguised gun for what can only be
>assumed to be nefarious purposes.
No, there aren't. Let me say it again, clearer: Your second group does not actually exist. This is a legislative solution to a non-existent problem. Is there even a single shred of evidence that criminals are _actually_ painting firearms to look like toys?
@ Sam at April 19, 2010 3:39 PM
"No, there aren't. Let me say it again, clearer: Your second group does not actually exist."
Ok, but my point still stands. If some one points a neon red glock at you, you can either slap them and tell them to go home or decide its not worth the risk and give them your wallet.
Still no need to shoot them.
Decorated guns didn't originate with criminals nor with gun companies.
Competition shooters have been decorating their guns for decades. Why? It personalizes your equipment - same as someone might 'dress up' a bicycle, a set of golf clubs, or whatever gear is used. It's easy to anodize aluminum parts and easy to add colors to modern metal coatings applied to firearms to protect them against rust.
It started with custom gunsmiths and companies producing aftermarket accessories sold primarily to the competition market and currently the trend of the week is "pink for ladies", with multiple companies adding pink grips and etc. to existing products.
They are and have been common in every shooting sport from Olympic biathalon, skeet and trap to the various 'practical shooting' sports.
A few of these guns are undoubtedly showing up in criminals' hands because they get stolen from legal gun owners - but this is neither "new" nor an actual "crime trend".
Those that own guns and go to shooting ranges have been aware of this form of gun customization for years; similarly those that have dealt with real criminals and been in real deadly force situations can only laugh at comments here that show the poster's ignorance and stupidity regarding how such incidents play out in the real world.
In a real situation, if someone points what appears to be a gun at you and displays other signs of aggression (words, body language, etc.) you damn well better react to it as if the threat was real, whether the gun is black or pink. If you are so stupid as to be unable to recognize basic human behavior cues, and your sole discriminator of threat vs non-threat is the color of the grip of the weapon (which you won't be able to see, FYI, because all you will see is the muzzle), then you probably deserve whatever happens to you.
As my old boss told me: if you aren't qualified to comment on a subject, don't make shit up, because there might be somebody else in the room that *does* know. Have the integrity to say "I don't know".
Those that have no life experience with guns and have never interacted with armed criminals might want to re-read that last paragraph before you post again.
It's my understanding that in the UK anything used to simulate a firearm (Realistic Imitation, toy, banana in pocket etc) is treated as a firearms offence. This works and doesn't make life hard for people who have legitimate reasons for imitations (historical interpreters, airsoft skirmishers, use in film and stage productions).
Requiring some classes of imitations to be uniquely coloured penalises the legitimate users yet puts anyone in a situation with someone acting in a threatening manner with anything that looks like it might be a toy in serious danger.
Responsible parents teach children not to touch anything that might be a real gun, and as Jeff said, not to point a toy at anyone who's not playing the game.
Responsible gun owners don't threaten people with their guns, whether they are black and scary looking or pink hello kitty models.
Remaining we have criminals, idiots, and children of idiots. These people make life hard for responsible people by doing stupid things and sometimes making badly thought out legislation.
Now we know children playing on the lawn with orange toy guns will be shot by law enforcement officers because there are stupid laws on aesthetics.
@KR -- right on, this is people just being sillier than usual; I have to admit to a life NRA membership and a concealed carry permit myself, though I carry only rarely -- mostly to poll for reactions to it.
I've recently done a survey of attitudes to carry around here (southwest VA). The bank, and the liquor store both encouraged me -- they know I'm a good guy and if anything make them safer. One convenience store employee (and Indian not here very long) freaked out -- assumed that because I had a gun *in a holster* I might rob the place. A tiny assurance that I wasn't there for that, and pointing out that even in the "reality" security camera movies no crook uses a holster and I had another convert. I have had people come up to me on the street and ask if I had a permit for an openly carried gun. I don't proselytize, I just say yes (eg, read the second amendment). I guess I look as far from being even an undercover cop as possible, so I get a bit of things like that.
As someone above pointed out -- it's the other stuff, body language, the appearance of a threat, that is really important. A nice smile goes a long way. After all, I am the weapon, the gun is only one of many possible tools, should it come to violence. I remember Bruce mentioning the ability to make a decent knife with epoxy and an in-flight magazine on an airplane. Fine if you have the time I guess. In my home, there's always plenty of junk to just pick up and throw if that's needed...never has been.
John Lott wrote an interesting book called "More guns, less crime" and it's just a fact that when even criminals perceive more danger, they don't do as much crime -- that little old lady may have a .45 in her purse you want the money out of, and may reach for it rather than the money clip. Our so called justice system is a lot gentler on crooks (usually) than a homeowner defending his loved ones -- no years of appeals there.
I don't have any fancy painted guns, but I'm not typical of the benchrest shooters I compete with either -- I just happen to like really nice wood and bluing when appropriate (especially when I did them myself). Were I to paint one neon -- it would be to make it easier to find among the clutter in the dark should I need it then. Not very likely here in farm country, as was pointed out above -- practically everyone is armed, crime is nearly zero, and there are good reasons for both. I would hate to have to be a criminal here -- far too dangerous.
Schneier.com is a personal website. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of BT.