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Gun Free SA: Not a given that kids who play with toy guns will use real guns

The Grassy Park Community Policing Forum wants a complete ban on the sale and manufacture of toy guns due to an alarming increase of children in gang-stricken areas playing with toy guns.

We took a replica firearm to a police officer and asked him to demonstrate how difficult it is to distinguish it from a real gun. Picture: Cindy Archillies/EWN

CAPE TOWN - The debate around whether toy and replica firearms should be still be sold, especially to children, has again been sparked.

The Grassy Park Community Policing Forum wants a complete ban on the sale and manufacture of toy guns.

The forum says it has noticed an alarming trend in the increasing number of children in the gang-stricken area playing with toy guns.

Toy and game distributor, Prima Toys, says that it does not sell, nor does it support, the sale of replica guns.

The company supplies scores of toy retailers in the country.

The closest product to a gun the supplier does produce is a colourful water pistol.

Prima Toys Managing Director John Jordaan says: "A toy replica gun could be used in a criminal act, where a toy gun that's not a replica toy can be easily identified. A replica toy gun in a criminal environment is not necessarily easily identifiable and that could lead to a criminal act taking place and people getting hurt and we are absolutely against that."

Gun Free South Africa says that children who play with toy guns and replicas of real firearms don't understand that there's a high risk of death and injury, should a police officer or civilian retaliate.

The organisation’s Adele Kirsten says that it is not a given that children who play with toy guns and replicas, would go on to use real firearms.

“The problem is that we’re living in a context of high levels of gun violence which kids see every day. The divide between fantasy and reality becomes much more porous. It’s in the context in which we live that’s not healthy behaviour."

She says that children need to be made aware of the real dangers that come with handling toy guns and replicas.

Last week, police arrested a 15-year-old pupil from Eldorado Park in Johannesburg, for allegedly threatening his teacher with what's believed to be a toy gun.

VIDEO: Gun games: Telling the difference between real & toy guns

(Edited by Mihlali Ntsabo)

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