Cops and robbers: Sales of toy guns spike during Eid

Published: July 8, 2016
Activists warn of the negative effects of letting children play with guns. PHOTO: AYSHA SALEEM/EXPRESS

Activists warn of the negative effects of letting children play with guns. PHOTO: AYSHA SALEEM/EXPRESS

KARACHI: As the Sindh government focuses on anti-gun laws to control violence in the metropolis, residents want legislation to ban toy guns so their children are not exposed to weapons at all, even the harmless ones.

A resolution was moved in the Sindh Assembly in August last year by Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM) Saifuddin Khalid to ban the import, manufacture and sale of toy guns as it ‘motivates children towards violence and crime’.

However, there is yet to be any substantial movement on the resolution. From children as young as four to teenagers, the most popular game on holidays such as the long Eid break this year is playing with toy guns mimicking action sequences from movies and video games.

From big toy shops to superstores, toy guns are available in over 35 shapes and models.

Confiscated: Thousands of toy guns destroyed

Showing off different models of the toy guns, a shop vendor told The Express Tribune he had purchased stock worth Rs0.1 million to sell over the Eid holidays and on the third day of Eid he had nearly run out.

“Children aged between eight to twelve are the main consumers of toy guns, especially those which look just like the real thing, ” said Shah.

He said the cheapest pistol can be bought for Rs120 while the bigger automatic machines gun replicas go for anywhere around Rs1, 000 depending on the size and functions. Most of the guns use small, round plastic pellets as bullets.

Guns for Eidi

The demand for these guns is high during Eidul Fitr, as children collect Eidi and buy them at the closest shops. Cleaning the dust from the toy guns, a shopkeeper, Gul Khan, said “Many parents buy guns for their children themselves on chand raat”.

“It is the only game we can play in real life. I am fond of  Counter Strike and playing with toy guns feels like I’m in the video game killing bad guys, ” said 11-year-old Abdul Maarij who was aiming his brand new toy gun at his elder brother.

“I and my brother buy these guns every year, ” he said, adding

that his brother, Abdul Hadi, hurt his ear last year at Eid when he shot him with a pellet at his ear by mistake.

He sheepishly said that both of them have bought these guns without informing their mother.

“It is better to gift your children with guns if they like to play with them…and it is just once a year, ” said Arsalan Ahmed, who was looking for a gun for his younger brother at a superstore.

He said he is aware of their negative effect, but asked what one should do if a child is demanding a gun and all of his friends have one already.

Culture of violence: Activists voice concern over sale, import of toy guns

Negative effects

The MQM lawmaker who wanted to ban the sale of the guns said that the system has failed to provide security and is now exposing our children to violence and crime. “The use of such toy guns has a negative impact on the minds of teenagers,” said Khalid, demanding that the government ban the manufacture and import of these guns because it is the only way they can be denied to the children.

Outlining the majority of areas where toy guns are the most popular, he said slums and other poverty-stricken areas are the main market of toy guns because of the low education and income level there. “Parents find an easy way out by letting their kids play with these guns,” he said, adding that in his own constituency which consists of Orangi Town and North Karachi, every second child is holding a toy gun.

He also feared that from the thousand children buying and playing with toy guns, some might be inclined to use real ones too. “I will raise this issue again because it is a matter of our upcoming generation’s mindset,” he implored.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 9th, 2016.

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