The Blog

Guns for Tots

The New York City Coucil wants to ban water pistols in the Big Apple. The Manhattan Libertarian party is riding to the rescue.

11:00 PM, Jan 30, 2003 • By KATHERINE MANGU-WARD
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THIS WEEK, the Manhattan Libertarian party launched its "Guns for Tots" campaign to protest a bill that would make toy guns illegal in New York City.

Worried about the loss of "one of the most cherished rites of childhood," Jim Lesczynski, spokesman for the Manhattan Libertarian party says the party plans to distribute toy guns, including cap guns and water pistols, to New York children whose favorite playthings may soon be contraband.

The bill, sponsored by city council members David Welprin (D-Queens) and Albert Vann (D-Brooklyn), would make it illegal to own or sell any toy that could "reasonably be perceived to be an actual firearm."

Jacob Rieper, the legislative director of the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association (the state affiliate of the NRA), succinctly explains the reasoning behind the anti-toy gun bill "Every now and then, some idiot buys a toy gun, paints it black, and tries to scare someone with it. And every now and then, that idiot gets shot. So now, no one will be allowed to have a water gun fight. Great."

Reportedly, during a press conference to announce the introduction of the new bill, Councilman Vann botched a cute stunt. He planned to threaten those in attendance with a water gun hidden in the waist of his pants, but the gun got stuck at the crucial moment and Vann was forced to conduct the rest of the press conference with an embarrassing water mark on the front of his trousers.

It looks like Vann won't be so inept at getting the bill passed, however, since he has rounded up 33 co-sponsors on the 51 member council. Says Rieper: "This bill is pretty much a sure thing." But it has to get out of committee first.

The council's Consumer Affairs committee has scheduled a hearing on the bill for February 6, which will be the final collection day for the Libertarians' drive. After the hearing, Lesczynski says he and other Libertarian party members will head uptown to distribute the guns outside P.S. 72 in Harlem. Describing the venture as "philanthropic," Lesczynski said he wanted to "bring a little joy into the lives of New York's youth--while such joy is still legal."

For those who aren't up for sitting through a council meeting, but would still like to help out, there will be a "Guns for Tots" collection party this Saturday night. New Yorkers should show up, Supersoakers or wallets in hand, at O'Flanagan's on 2nd Avenue between 82nd and 83rd St.

And remember, be generous. It's for the children.

Katherine Mangu-Ward is an editorial assistant at The Weekly Standard.