Information Generally Not Available on Toy Gun Issues Related to Crime, Injuries or Deaths, and Long-Term Impact

GAO-03-1135R: Published: Sep 30, 2003. Publicly Released: Oct 30, 2003.

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Laurie E. Ekstrand
(202) 512-2758


Office of Public Affairs
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Representative Edolphus Towns requested information on several issues related to the use of toy guns. Specifically, he asked that GAO (1) examine crime statistics showing the prevalence of crimes that involved toy guns in some capacity; (2) gather any available information on incidents involving toy guns that have resulted in injuries or deaths, whether or not related to criminal activity; and (3) determine from available literature whether there are any studies examining the long-term impacts that can be attributed to toy gun play by children.

GAO's study disclosed that scant data exist on the incidence of crimes, injuries, or deaths involving toy guns and on the long-term effects that childhood play with toy guns may have on individuals. Available data on crimes involving toy guns are dated and insufficient for providing a national perspective. Also, databases that collect information from hospital emergency rooms and other sources regarding product-related injuries and deaths generally are not designed to capture information about incidents involving toy guns. Thus, the relatively few cases of such incidents that were recorded in these databases probably do not represent an accurate or comprehensive reporting. Finally, a literature search found no publications or studies specifically addressing the long-term effects of childhood play with toy guns.

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