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CVS, Kmart Fined for Violating N.Y. Toy Gun Rules

Sunday, April 3, 2005; Page A08

NEW YORK -- Two major retail chains were fined a total of $130,000 for violating New York City's law banning the sale of dark-colored toy guns.

The city's Department of Consumer Affairs said CVS was fined $100,000 and Kmart $30,000.

CVS was found to have more than 400 of the guns in stock in city stores; Kmart had nearly 50. Guns found at CVS, which included a toy labeled "Official Military Play Equipment," manufactured by Manley Toy Quest, were described as dark green, brown and black camouflage. The city agency found the camouflage green "Fun Zone Delta Force Military Action Set" at Kmart.

In a statement, CVS said it has "cooperated fully with the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs in the investigation of this matter and has discontinued the sale of nonconforming toys."

A Kmart spokesman said "Kmart immediately corrected the situation" after being alerted that the Action Set contained a noncompliant item.

Over the past 2 1/2 years, the city has collected more than $600,000 in fines relating to sales of toy guns from such retailers as the Sports Authority, Party City and Walgreens.

"Fake guns are extremely dangerous and have created fatal situations for both the police and the public," Commissioner Gretchen Dykstra said in a statement Friday.

Although there is no standard reporting of crimes involving toy guns, state Attorney General Eliot L. Spitzer's office found 12 incidents, between 1998 and 2003, of city police shooting at someone with a toy gun that was mistaken for an actual firearm.

In 1994, a police officer shot and killed a 13-year-old boy who was playing with a toy gun in a stairwell of the Gowanus Houses in Brooklyn. Two teenagers were killed in 2000 while using toy guns to rob an undercover officer in Brooklyn. And in 2003, police in the Bronx shot a former corrections officer after he waved a fake pistol.

The law allows the sale of toy guns as long as they are brightly colored and can be easily identified as fakes. Even so, such laws do not necessarily solve the problem, a fact to which CVS can attest: Three of its Minnesota pharmacies were held up earlier this week by two teenagers using toy guns. Police said the youths had painted over the red marks the state requires on toy guns.

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