Amazon, Wal-Mart Settle With New York Over Toy Gun Sales

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Five retailers including Amazon.com Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. agreed to pay more than $300,000 to end a probe in New York into alleged sales of toy guns deemed too realistic.

Under an agreement announced Monday the retailers, which also include Kmart, Sears Holdings Corp. and California-based ACTA, will pay fines and develop procedures to make sure the illegal toy guns aren’t sold in New York, according to state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

“Time and again, these retailers put profits over safety, putting children and police officers at high risk of a tragic encounter,” Schneiderman said in a statement.

Schneiderman sent cease-and-desist letters to the merchants last year after finding that they were violating the ban mostly by failing to prevent illegal toys bought online from being shipped to customers in the state. One Kmart in the Rochester area was found to have prohibited toy guns on its shelves, he said.

The sales by Wal-Mart violated terms of an earlier agreement reached with the state in 2003 when it was found to be selling illegal toy guns. Because of that, the retailer will be paying largest of the fines, $225,000, Schneiderman said.

Wal-Mart stopped selling the offending toy guns online to residents of New York as soon as Schneiderman notified the company about the issue, Randy Hargrove, a Wal-Mart spokesman said in a statement.

“We are pleased that we were able to resolve the attorney general’s concerns regarding toy gun sales in a mutually satisfactory way,” Chris Brathwaite, a spokesman for Sears, said in a statement.

Third-Party Sellers

Third-party sellers on Amazon sold most of the illegal toy guns. The agreement will require Amazon to develop procedures to ensure its third-party sellers no longer ship inappropriate toy guns to the state.

“This is not hard stuff to police,” Schneiderman said.

New York generally requires that toy guns have a prominent orange stripe to prevent them from being mistaken for the real thing. Federal law also requires toy guns to have an orange tip.

There have been at least 63 shootings, at least eight fatal, in New York resulting from toy guns being mistaken for real weapons since 1994, according to Schneiderman. The five retailers sold more than 6,400 prohibited toy guns in New York from 2012 to December, he said. Most came from third-party sellers on Amazon.

In pursuit of profits, retailers put children and police officers “at the risk of a tragic and even deadly encounter,” Schneiderman said at a news conference in Manhattan Monday. “The risk of deadly accidents is simply too great.”

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