Realistic looking toy guns can be deadly in the hands of black children.
Ask Zahiem Salahuddin, the 13-year-old who was jailed for three days for shooting a smaller child with a toy gun. Maybe you could even ask Tamir Rice—except Tamir was killed two seconds after a Cleveland police officer saw him playing with a toy gun and shot Tamir dead.
Realistic toy guns are bad news for black children. That’s why I so proud when I saw a video of Anton Moore and several other brothers stepping to a store owner at 29th and Lehigh last Sunday and telling him the sale of such guns was no longer acceptable in that community.
The guns in question are replicas of nine-millimeter pistols. They are black except for an orange tip on the barrel, and they look and function almost like a real gun, The men believe such realistic guns put the lives of black children in danger. And frankly, the men are right.
One of the men—Anton Moore—is a veteran of this sort of thing. He runs the non-profit Unity In The Community. The other, a grandfather who is fed up with this foolishness.
“My grandson who bought this—you know how old he is? He ten,” the brother says as he paces back and forth. “Imagine if he make this [orange part] dark and then go out and [pull this gun out] in front of a cop or in front of a person that carry a gun.”
Imagine indeed. The boy could end up jailed like Zahiem or dead like Tamir—all because of a toy gun made of plastic.
What those men did last Sunday—simply by walking into a store and demanding that they stop selling death to children—was heroic. It was bold. And it’s exactly what we need to be doing in all of our neighborhoods.
No other community is inundated with junk products like we are. No other community is saddled with dangerous products like we are. But black folks spend well over a trillion dollars a year making other people rich. It’s time we started acting like we have the spending power we do. If you won’t stop selling products that endanger our children, we’ll boycott you store, and make you don’t sell anything.