The scheme was to buy a toy 9-millimeter Glock, the service weapon carried by the FBI. They make great fakes, don't they? Don't people rob banks every day with toy guns?
It was a beautiful night, so I walked down Broadway, from the upper 70s to the superstore Toys R Us on 42nd Street. When I asked the uniformed toy concierge where the guns were, she looked astounded, as if she hadn't heard that question in 20 years.
"You can't buy a toy gun in the boroughs of New York," she said, then added: "You could go to New Jersey."
Now, I have to say this. I am just sick and tired of New Yorkers saying disparaging things about New Jersey. Who do they think they are? Don't they realize New Jersey ranks even higher than they do on the sensible-gun-laws scale?
Instead of going to Jersey to buy a toy gun, which probably wouldn't have been all that easy, she came up with a good solution right there in NYC. Companies exist which supply prop guns for the theater.
So the following morning, after a feverish search on the Internet, I discovered the Centre Firearms Co. They stocked prop Glocks, but as I learned, you can't just walk in and rent one. The Administrative Code is so airtight that you need a letter of intent stating exactly what you plan to use the prop for.
This meant a letter from my publisher, followed by a dash to an address in the west 30s that turned out to be the Empire State Building. After stumbling through lobbies and doorways, I found a horrifying freight elevator that took me to an office with a massive steel door, where I was buzzed into a long, shadowy room filled with racks of dusty weapons. Rifles, muskets, M-16s. Beyond it lay another chamber, half-dark, filled with more. A depressed-looking man stood behind the counter.
He scrutinized the letter and filled out an elaborate form, warning that I must keep it with me when carrying the gun, in case I was stopped. Stopped? At a police roadblock. Or a metal detector. He offered me two choices of weapon: a prop cut out of a block of wood for $35 a week or an actual Glock (disabled for firing) that cost $10 more. You could not tell the difference, so I took the block of wood.
What's your opinion? Are all these ridiculous laws doing any good? Well, what do you think? Did you ever hear of anyone committing a robbery with a toy gun? Do you think that happens more often in New York or places where you can buy toy guns easily? Did you ever hear of the police shooting a kid who was holding a toy gun? Do you think that happens more often in New York or in places where you can buy those toys easily?
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