Future at stake : Toy gun sales rampant despite ban

Experts are of the view that access to imitation firearms at a young age normalises violence

Umer Farooq July 25, 2022


Despite the province’s past struggles with gun violence, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) has largely failed to curtail an obsession with firearms, which in some cases develops at an early age due to easy access to toy guns.

With the plastic imitations of the firearms available everywhere, it is common to see children in the provincial capital, Peshawar, running around wielding them at each other. Even though the toy guns bring joy to the children, Safar Ali, a resident of the city is tired of the kids in his neighbourhood using the playthings. “No one has been hurt yet but such toys do more good than bad.” When asked about the bad, Ali replied that all the bulbs in the street lights had fallen victim to the children’s dot guns.

However, bulbs are just a minor casualty, as per clinical psychologist Mumlikat, who said that the actual adverse consequence of easy access to toy guns was the long term impact on the child’s brain. “All social learning takes place either at home or school and when you normalise wielding guns at an early age, it is possible that they will have no aversion to picking up a real firearm at a later stage in life.”

The psychologist was of the view that with violence on television and video games already normalised, parents needed to tread carefully before allowing their offspring to come in contact with such toys.

Social activist, Azra Nafees Yousafzai, who staged a demonstration outside the Chinese embassy in Islamabad back in 2013 against imitation firearms being imported into Pakistan, concurred with Mumlikat’s views. “I fear the day when the toy guns will replace real guns in these young impressionable minds.” Yousafzai further added that both parents and the provincial government were equally to blame for the easy access. “Parents do not discourage their children and the government does not implement the legislation regarding ban on sale of toy guns.”

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Parliamentary Secretary, Fazal Ilahi, when asked about the legislation’s lack of implementation, laid the blame squarely on the administration. “Our duty was to make a law to ban the sale of toy firearms but it was the local administration’s responsibility to enforce that law. Clearly, they have failed.” When asked if something could be done to ensure implementation, Ilahi said that all he could do was to raise his voice in the assembly.

With Ilahi not taking responsibility for implementation, the Express Tribune asked the Commission Peshawar, Riaz Mehsood, about the police’s inattention towards the sale of the plastic imitations of guns and was told that “section 144, a ban on sale of toy guns is already in place in the city.”

However, Mehsood conceded that sales had remained uninterrupted despite the ban. “We realise that this is a menace which corrupts kids’ brains from an early age. Therefore, I have requested all Deputy Commissioners within my jurisdiction to strictly monitor and take actions against those selling toy guns,” Mehsood told The Express Tribune.


Published in The Express Tribune, July 25th, 2022.


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