Mayor calls ban on toy guns ridiculous

WASHINGTON TERRACE, Utah (AP) -- Kids just want to have fun -- but in one Utah town, they can't even play with a water pistol. So a 14-year-old boy enlisted the mayor of Washington Terrace to overturn a ban on toy guns.

Matthew Taylor said he was playing with friends when a police officer ordered the boys to stop using so-called airsoft guns that shoot plastic pellets.

"He said that they're illegal within city limits. We didn't think that was very fair," Taylor told the Standard-Examiner of Ogden. "We put a lot of money into using our airsoft guns and didn't really want to give them up."

Mayor Mark Allen said the laws in his city and Weber County that prohibit certain toy guns are silly. "We thought it was kind of ridiculous," Allen said. "You can't even have a Super Soaker at a family reunion to hold a water fight."

According to Allen, the laws don't even allow harmless Nerf guns that shoot foam darts.

City officials say they plan to lift the ban on private property. "Of course, you can't bring any of those to school, but Nerf guns and Super Soakers don't hurt anyone, usually, unless you shoot someone straight in the eye,'"' Allen said.

First, the city will calculate the projectile force of various toy guns by a feet-per-second formula that's still subject to change. And they want to distinguish between a Nerf gun, for instance, and paintball guns that can leave a body welt. Elected officials said they were inclined to legalize airsoft guns, squirt guns, sling shots and Nerf guns.

Toy guns can look like real guns, cautioned Weber County Sheriff's Lt. Philip Howell, who patrols Washington Terrace. "If police are concerned, they will assess the situation from a distance and approach cautiously if it still isn't clear," he said.

City Manager Mark Christensen said toy guns can draw objections regardless of the projectile. "We get complaints about being hit by marshmallow guns," he said.

But Taylor said the good outweighs the bad when it comes to toy guns. "We like airsoft guns because we can go outside and get some exercise instead of just being in front of the TV or computer," he said.