Iowa city votes to prohibit carrying of toy firearms

Sioux City police say that "toy" firearms are becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish from actual guns and are being used more by criminals


By Dolly Butz
Sioux City Journal

SIOUX CITY, Iowa — The Sioux City Council gave final approval to an ordinance Monday that prohibits citizens from carrying "toy" firearms, including pellet and BB guns.

The council voted 5-0 to adopt the ordinance, which secured first passage on Nov. 5 and second on Nov. 19.

Although no people have died in police shootings in the city after brandishing a toy weapon, Sioux City police say that "toy" firearms are becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish from actual guns and are being used more by criminals. According to a database of U.S. police shootings maintained by The Washington Post, 142 people brandishing toy weapons have been killed by police since 2015.

While it's illegal to carry a real firearm in city limits without a concealed carry permit, before the new ordinance was adopted, Sioux City code allowed for the carry of lookalike "toy" weapons, provided they were not discharged. Iowa code doesn't prohibit carrying "dummy," BB or pellet guns.

The revision of Sioux City code won't ban carrying Nerf, suction-cup dart or squirt guns. A violation of the code is a simple misdemeanor.

Before the vote, Mayor Bob Scott asked Sioux City Police Chief Rex Mueller to remember that there are "unintended consequences" to "what supposedly start out as good laws."

"I'd like to make sure that we monitor this and make sure there aren't unintended consequences," said Scott, who previously raised concerns about whether citizens driving around with BB guns in the back seat of their cars would be violating the law. The holidays are just around the corner and BB guns are popular gifts for children.

"I don't foresee it being misused. It fills the gap in the lack of laws pertaining to these type of weapons that the state has," Mueller said. "I'm not worried about it being used against citizens that have good things in mind."

McClatchy-Tribune News Service
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