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Police commissioner: Get replica guns off the street before somebody dies

UPDATE, Wednesday: City Council unanimously approved the ordinance.

Police Commissioner William Evans strongly backs a proposed ordinance that would let police seize toy and replica guns that look too much like the real thing.

Evans said the guns increasingly being used in crimes. At a City Council committee hearing this morning, he pointed to last night's robbery outside the Savin Hill T stop, allegedly by two teens with a realistic-looking BB gun as just the latest example of people using replica guns in crimes.

"It's a critical ordinance for us in the Police Department, because obviously we see way too many of these on the streets of the city now," Evans said.

Mayor Walsh proposed the regulations in August.

But he added that he is also worried what happens when somebody points one of the guns at a police officer and the officer responds with deadly force - as happened in Cleveland with a 12-year-old boy and in Brockton with a 45-year-old man.

A situation like that "is our biggest fear," he said.

"These aren't toys, these basically can do a lot of damage in the city," he added.

Dan Mulhern, the mayor's adviser on public safety, emphasized the proposed ordinance carries no criminal penalties but is instead an attempt to educate the public - in particular parents - on the problems with realistic-looking replicas that do not have bright orange tips or other markers to show they are just toys.

Under the proposed ordinance, police would seize the replicas, then hold them for awhile. Parents of kids under 18 who had their toys seized could go down to the local police station and retrieve them. People over 18 could do the same thing.

The City Council could vote on adopting the measure at its meeting tomorrow, which starts at noon in its fifth-floor chambers in City Hall.

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Comments

How about keeping criminals locked up? Blaming toys for criminal behavior isn't going to stop criminals committing crime.

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Same muttonhead comments over and over again. The gun nuts must love vinyl records because like the old scratches in the records, they keep skipping at the same place time and time again until it becomes the only thing they say.

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Ironic isn't it? We can outlaw toy guns in public and the police think we have to because we can't outlaw real guns in public.

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Our current Massachusetts laws kept these two from getting an actual firearm.

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These "toys" are not made to look like toys... rather they are designed to fool people into seeing them and believing they are looking at a real gun.
So stop twisting words with your stupid sound bytes.

Also no group is less supportive of the police than the gun lobby.

And, despite what the NRA says, no group is more opposed to keeping criminals locked-up than the gun lobby. As long as the gun lobby can get criminals released they can use the excuse that guns are not the problem rather criminals are the problem. And criminals are a major source of revenue for gun shops, gun shows and the gun industry.

Finally, crime aside, gun owners represent a huge medical cost for this country. This is because each year thousands and thousands of gun owners accidentally shoot themselves mostly in the hand, foot or leg. If you ever attend a gun show, you'd be amazed at the number of people you see missing a finger or two.

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People are allowed to have guns. It says to in the US Constitution. No matter how you choose to twist the words, the document says it in plain English. Why does it say it? Because it was written for an agrarian frontier nation that had just overthrown its king, and the general thinking was it wouldn't do to prevent that from happening later, should it be necessary, hence empowerment of the People with a capital P to have the option to use deadly force with the implicit trust that they wouldn't abuse that power.

And guess what, other than that criminal element, which honestly is small and statistically getting smaller, people *don't* abuse it, no matter what your blue-state sensibilities make you want to believe otherwise, no matter how much your P.R. Cambridge upbringing inclines you dictate terms to other free citizens, and no matter how much your own personality defects cause you to conflate disagreement with derangement.

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If you're going to be citing the post-Revolutionary war period and all, since you obviously need a refresher course.

The key phrase for the founding fathers was "well regulated militia," which today's modern Second Amendmendistas always seem to forget. Look up Shays' Rebellion and the Whiskey Rebellion and why Washington (doesn't get much more founding-fatherish than that) wanted a well regulated militia. Hint: It wasn't to fend off the king.

As for licensed gun owners being all good and stout-hearted and all, yes, like most people, most of them are law abiding. But not all of them:

People with concealed carry permits have committed at least 29 mass shootings since 2007.

Also, as you seem to be unaware, no right is absolute in this country, not even those granted by the Second Amendment. Shocking, but true. Even the Supreme Court decision in the DC gun-control case said some people can be barred completely from gun ownership (convicted felons, the severely mentally ill) and that some regulation of gun ownership is permitted. If you don't like the way Boston and Massachusetts regulate guns, organize a political movement, elect pro-gun legislators and city councilors; find somebody who can get elected as a pro-gun governor and mayor and go to town. Sorry if the First Amendment bothers you and people rise up to oppose your movement, but, hey, that's democracy, and isn't that what you claim the Second Amendment is supposed to safeguard?

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The fact that no rights are absolute (we throw people in jails and relieve them of a more-or-less-mutually-agreed-upon portion of their property on a regular basis, and I'm not complaining) doesn't mean that any one particular right should be reserved for the few rather than assumed to apply to the many.

For the record, I actually don't have a problem with Mass gun laws (though the gun nuts at the place I got my NRA training told me they've run into issues of selective and nonuniform enforcement), and I think every state should require you to learn basic safety and marksmanship before they let you own or carry, just like every state requires you to learn to drive before they let you have a car.

My objection is that (I assume) well-meaning folks like yourself wanting to condition the behavior of many tens of millions of equally well-meaning and law-abiding citizens on the misbehavior of a small number of people, who--let's be honest--would find some way of getting themselves into trouble and causing grief for others without firearms.

Guns are a favorite target. Car ownership is also a favorite target, though not with the same vehemence (most of the time). I frankly don't trust y'all to stop yourselves before you start calling for something that actually affects me on a daily basis (I don't own a firearm at this time), so I make no apologies for pointing out what I don't like early and often (in the spirit of respectful public discourse).

Now about that Whiskey Rebellion: I see your rebellion and raise you an Alien and Sedition Act, which banned criticism of government policy under penalty of imprisonment. That's also not a particularly shining example of respecting individual freedom from our nation's early years, and the First Amendment was on the books by then too, if I remember history correctly.

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Yes, a shameful part of American history. At the same time, I'm not sure it's the proof you're looking for for why we need to allow Cliven Bundy and Oath Keepers.

In 1798, the country was awash in guns, and yet they played no part in defeating this totalitarian measure. What did them in was the First Amendment: People assembled and voted out John Adams, who had come up with the Acts, and elected Thomas Jefferson. Democracy in action.

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Adam is right but don't feel bad because you're not the only person who has a false understanding of history and the second amendment.

You're in the good company of Antonin Scalia, who premised the majority opinion he wrote in Heller v. DC 2008 on false history in order to find, for the first time ever in the history if US jurisprudence, an individual right to own a firearm.

It NEVER existed before 2008, and it is justified on the premise of a false history of the United States. It's turning 8 next year. We'll throw it a party if it doesn't get caught in the crossfire.

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You might want to re-read yours. Militia means every able-bodied citizen. At the time of the signing of the constitution, most states (including Massachusetts) required citizens to own a military grade infantry weapon (e.g. pike, sword, musket. rifle, etc) and present themselves to drill with that weapon along with their fellow citizens, so that, in battle, they would fight as a proficient and orderly (or, in the language of the constitution, "well-regulated") militia unit. During King Philip's War, Massachusetts even had laws requiring all citizens to bring their weapons to church.

The founders intended broad private ownership of arms by citizens, taking ancient Greek city-states as their model, where full citizenship was typically *dependent* both on the ability to own an infantryman's arms, and on presenting yourself for infantry service when required.

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In the bill of rights, the phrase 'bears arms' has a historical meaning. It means carrying a specific kind of rifle-- one made for warfare as opposed to a farmer's musket-- and for a specific purpose-- in the common defense. Bear arms is a term d'art, it didn't mean any old firearm or long rifle for any purpose, as it does now. The Mass. Constitution is more explicit about the right. The entire right is qualified by the phrase 'for the common defense.' Militia is also for the common defense.

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Not blacks. Not women. Depending on the state you lived in, not "the morally compromised" (Va., early 1800s)- that included people who were in debt. And so on.

Never in the independent United States have we demanded that our entire citizenry own firearms, or to participate in a militia, Or even demanded, without recourse, that they serve in times of war.

Never.

Among the many rights that demand would violate would be those outlined in the First Amendment. The Quaker men who signed the Declaration of Independence would never allow that infringement.

Our history is wrapped with the refusal to accept militarization against a person's will. We fought impressment and quartering.

We should be proud that the founders did not do exactly what you describe.

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Never in the independent United States have we demanded that our entire citizenry own firearms, or to participate in a militia

The Second Congress passed the militia acts of 1792 conscripted every free able-bodied white male citizen between 18 and 45 into state militias, and required them all to present themselves for service with their own arms and ammunition within 6 months. The militia acts were amended to include those of african descent in 1862.

With the exception of Quaker Pennsylvania, all the original colonies had laws requiring citizens to own arms. The fact that women and slaves also generally weren't allowed to vote or hold office (that is, enjoy full citizenship) is directly related to the fact that they generally did not belong to the militia.

In 1630 Massachusetts required that all adult men to be armed. In 1645, the requirement that these be firearms was made explicit, specifying muskets with a barrel of at least 3 feet and nine inches. All inhabitants, whether eligible for militia service or not, were required to have arms fit for service, along with powder, match and shot. All boys between 10 and 16 were to receive instruction in the use of small guns, pikes, and bow and arrow from experienced militia officers on regular training days.

In 1716, New Hampshire required all men from 16 to 60 to buy a firearm and ammunition, with a fine of 6 shillings for those who failed to do so.

In 1664, the Duke of York required that all male citizens of New York from 16 to 60 purchase a firearm for militia service, with a fine of five shillings for failure to comply,

In 1636 Connecticut required all men above the age of 16 to own a gun for militia service; this law was reiterated in 1637, 1650, 1665, 1673, 1696, and 1741. Fines varied from 2 to 10 shillings.

Rhode Island had no state law requiring private gun ownership, but a 1639 law required all traveling more than 2 miles from town to go armed, and a 1643 law in the town of Portsmouth required the town's militia officers to inspect each citizen and ensure that they owned both gun and powder.

In 1703 New Jersey required all men from 16 to 50 (excepting ministers, physicians, schoolmasters, legislators, civil government officers, and slaves) to present themselves twice a year for militia service armed with a sword or good musket, a pound of powder and 12 bullets.

In 1742 Delaware required every freeholder and taxable person to own a firearm, powder, and bullets, with a fine of 40 shillings for those who failed to do so. Only men from 17 to 50 were subject to militia service. Quakers were exempted, provided that they paid 2 shillings and sixpence a day to pay those who were obliged to serve in their place.

In 1639, Maryland required that every head of household provide for himself, and for each within his household able to bear arms, a musket, a pound of powder, and 4 pounds of shot. The law was reiterated in 1642, 1715, 1756, and 1775, with fines for failure to keep suitable arms and appear for militia service.

In 1684 Virginia required free men to provide themselves with a sword or musket, two pounds of powder, and eight pounds of shot. This statute was reiterated in 1705, 1738, 1748, and 1755.

In 1715 North Carolina required all free men between 16 and 60 to present themselves for militia service with a sword, good gun, and at least 6 charges of powder and ball or pay a fine. In 1746 this was extended to include all freemen and servants between 16 and 60, with a fine of 2 shillings 8 pence for those who failed to present themselves along with adequate arms and ammunition. Contrary to your assertions, free blacks were included in this order and did serve in the North Carolina militia.

South Carolina's laws did not explicitly require firearms for the militia, only arms generally. A 1743 statute required all white male inhabitants under 60 eligible for militia service to attend church armed either with a gun or pair of horse pistols and at least six charges of powder and ball, or to pay a fine of twenty shillings.

In 1773, Georgia required each member of the militia to provide his own gun, powder, and ammunition, with the exception of indentured servants -- their masters were required to provide them with a gun, powder, and ammunition. Slaves between 16 and 60 were also eligible for militia service upon the recommendation of their masters, who were required to provide them with a gun, powder, and ammunition. Failure to appear for militia service carried a 20 shilling fine. Militia officers could inspect the arms of militia men up to 6 times a year, and militiamen whose arms were found inadequate faced a 5 shilling fine.

As you can see, some of these laws are quite late; some being passed within a year of the revolution. In the context of these laws and the 1792 act, it's absurd to claim that by "a well-regulated militia" the founders meant some narrow subset of citizens like the National Guard or somesuch. They meant all citizens who could be expected to render military service. In their day, that was free men from 16 to 60, in our day, that's basically everyone over 18.

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but using an example of our nation failing to live up to its stated ideals of maximal rights for all (ie no lack gun ownership) is not a valid argument for restricting that right equally; it is an argument for extending that right more equally.

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committed with replica guns as if they were real guns? And that includes not allowing the defense lawyer to argue "But it was just a toy."

Of course, it would also help if we stopped saying "But the suspect's only a teenager, go easyon them" as well.

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I'm gonna play Native American and shoot Mr. Roadman Custer offa his hobby horse.

He's been drinkin too much of the whine about teenagers agin.

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equally responsible for their actions. Forgive me for not buying into the BS that a person that holds up somebody with a gun, whether real or "replica", should be charged, tried, and (if found guilty) sentenced differently because of their age.

Age of the perp doesn't matter to the victim of the crime - they're still a victim of the crime. And it shouldn't matter in admistering justice for that victim either.

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Any comments about the masks they wore? These teens thought it would be funny to put masks on and terrorize someone. How are they're grades in school?

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LOL. Obviously, should be "their" and not "they're". My grades were good and luckily I'm gainfully employed.

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Police commissioner: Get replica guns off the street before somebody dies - because cops shoot first and ask later.

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but I think that there are at least 3 recent examples that I can think of off the top of my head that pretty clearly demonstrate that's not how it works in Boston.

Perhaps you live in South Carolina or Missouri?

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I agree issacg. For the most part Boston police show tremendous restraint in use of lethal force. Still, there are instances when men holding knives, two last summer, didn't survive the arrest. I'm not saying that the police broke the law. They didn't. They have tremendous latitude to use lethal force in self defense. Nonetheless, when police are able to make an arrest of a man with knife, without using lethal force-- like at Winchester MBTA station -- they've saved a life.

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I agree with the above statement and they're probably and possibly more incidents that we're not aware of that didn't make the media; in which Boston Police Officers came across individuals with replica guns and didn't shoot them.

My fellow Bostonians if you haven't seen these replica guns yet please just go google it or search engine replica guns they look so authentic and it's really hard to tell the difference. It is not like the days of old where you can pretty much tell the difference you cannot tell the difference.
And it's not okay for people from a community of which do not have to worry so much about the gun issues. But I live in a community where there are great human beings and people that work hard but they're also individuals who do harm with guns.

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If someone is pointing a gun at you, would you stop to ask them if it's real first?

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Middlesex DA Marion Ryan called the shooting "justified" after a year-long investigation, claiming the shooting victim was "armed" and the officer feared for his life She left out from the press release that the bank robber was armed with a pellet gun, never shot a pellet at anyone, the cop fired off 11 shots, hitting the victim twice, a house twice, and was given an award for his actions!
http://patch.com/massachusetts/arlington/middlesex-da-issues-statement-n...

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You can't tell a pellet gun from a real gun at that distance.

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I asked if water guns were next. Cops could maybe melt those down to make vinyl records for us old timers.

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So a guy does an armed robbery of a bank with what looks like a gun, then takes out the gun look alike and points it at a cop who has a real gun. Sorry, not losing any sleep over over this dumb ass being shot. How about this: don't go robbing banks with something that looks like a gun and then go around pointing it at cops? And if you do, expect to get shot.

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That's your position?

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... that when a cop is looking at the business end of what a reasonable person would agree looks like a real gun, in a context in which a reasonable person might expect a real gun (e.g., a bank robber as opposed to a kindergartner dressed as a bank robber in a Halloween parade), that the use of deadly force is appropriate.

But you're entirely welcome to your interpretation, of course.

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Since cops with fake guns wouldn't be able to shoot anybody.

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If those "kids" (i.e. teenage thugs) use fake guns to rob people and are dumb enough to point them at cops.

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Especially here, with BPD's record of restraint.

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Restraint? They killed David Woodman for walking down the street with a cup in his hand.

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They took him down to the ground with force because he said something smart. Then they left him alone while he was handcuffed and stopped breathing. But they didn't shoot him, so restraint.

The officer that laid him out got a medal. Not for that, for something else.

DA Conley said 'nothing to see here, move along.' City of Boston paid the family a couple of million. Can;t remember if it was 2.5 or 3 or something else.

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He made one comment and they chased him down while he was still walking. They grabbed him from behind and slammed him against the fence without knowning what was in his cup. He didnt even say anything bad and the last time i checked it is freedom of speech. He died because he was cuffed and laying face down with his left knee up underneath his chest for several minutes while not one officer babysat their so-called prisioner. This is what is called Positional aphxiation!

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The kids out committing robberies with replica firearms know their chances of running into someone with a real one are very, very slim in Boston. Must be empowering to know they only have cops and fellow criminals to fear.

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Because, as is well known, armed robbery and other gun crimes never, never, not ever, no, really never happen in states where pretty much anybody can carry a gun. Thanks for reminding us.

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Yes, but anon's point was these kids are using fake guns. Perhaps they wouldn't be as ballsy with a toy if they thought you or I could legally carry conceal.

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Perhaps they wouldn't be as ballsy with a toy if they thought.

The guy's instagram account is "weed_loves_meeee". They stole a salad. There wasn't a lot of thinking going on here. If there had been, they wouldn't have done what they did regardless of whether the victim was carrying his own gun or not. Furthermore, if the victim was carrying his own gun, not knowing whether theirs is real or not means he doesn't pull his because:

If it's not real, he's not in danger.
If it is real, they already have the drop on him.

In fact, if he did have a real gun on him and they were able to determine that as part of their hold-up, then they just scored a real gun...AND a salad.

The only scenario where the victim having a gun in this situation makes sense is if he shoots them in the back as they run away...at which point, he's no longer "standing his ground" and should no longer be in fear of his life AND if they do have a real gun and he misses, he's created a shoot-out, which he can lose.

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Anon's statement was clearly speaking in general terms of replica guns being used more frequently in Boston and not specifically to this incident.

But thanks for chiming in.

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It always amazes me how people like you come up with some binary scenario like this, as if every armed robbery follows a script and goes the same way. I'm glad you're so sure of how things play out and what "makes sense." Those out committing felonies are always such forward-thinking individuals who would never do something that doesn't make sense, like shoot someone after getting what they presumably wanted.

Just ask this guy: http://www.kmov.com/story/30121515/late-night-armed-robbery-leaves-man-i...

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It wasn't my intent to imply that gun crimes don't happen in areas where people can legally carry guns. Just saying that I wouldn't be surprised if criminals are emboldened by knowing they have a very small chance of running into a potential victim who might be armed, specifically in the city of Boston. This -- of course -- is my completely unscientific opinion. You don't have to agree, but let me make it clear that I wasn't arguing the converse.

And this is with much respect, adam, cause without your reporting we probably wouldn't hear about a lot of this (or at least have time to collate the sources). It just seems like there have been more replica firearm armed robberies. Above all, it's amazing that nobody has been killed over it - by police or anyone.

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How about getting the illegal guns off the streets and letting the average citizen be able to conceal carry when applying for an LTC at BPD Headquarters.

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and whether it was drawn on them or whether it was found during a custody pat-down or nearby.

I am sure of one thing, however. I would absolutely not be able to distinguish that BB gun (picture added by adamg to other post) from a "real" gun - and particularly not at night on a city street in a stressful situation.

Evans is absolutely right to be concerned. Many lives are going to be ruined one of these days because of a "toy" gun.

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Turns out the gun was a non-functioning starter's pistol, not a BB gun. But same issues apply in terms of charges.

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I believe this is a Great Idea, I can't really see in this day in age why young people need fake replica guns anyways, cowboys and Indian (Native Americans) and all forms of other
related outside games are old and defunct i.e. cops and robbers or army etc.; . There are no justifiable reason for young people with in the city limits should be playing with pellet guns with in the city's limits. There has been many instances when this been allowed, things have gone or very turned bad. And if we are no careful or do something asap, It will be become deadly. There have been to many other examples of these types of mistakes. The United States and world has change drastically regarding how society response to firearm and replica firearms.

I hold all stores, parents, neighborhoods, me, all of us or any establishment equally culpable for the continued acceptance of these replica being sold. It's time to Stop Selling, Buying and Carrying Replica Guns. Politely ask all stores managers to PLEASE stop selling knives and replica guns in your neighborhood stores. If they refuse don't get into a agreement or fight because said they won't stop selling. The power of the dollar and peaceful protest does wonders.

I commend Boston Police Officers for show great restraint thus far when comforted with a replica guns. there have been more than three cases that I know.

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I got a little something for you to think about. For you neighborhood stores that sell knives replica guns and other dangerous weapons, have you ever thought that the very item you have sold to someone may have even been the very item that robbed, hurt, even killed individuals you know that work in neighborhood stores.
Just think about that the weapon or fake weapon you sold, you yourself got robbed with it, you got assaulted with and killed somebody you know. Boston is an incredibly small city I wouldn't be surprised if this has not already happen. And if there was some way to track knives as far as what store was it brought from. I can assure you your store have sold a knife that have either robbed, brought harm to or even killed someone you know or a Bostonian. But of course you can only think of money. I challenge all neighborhood store owners to remove your knives and all fake replica guns. Have a conscience not a bottom line.

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The city council can vote on this instead of many other pressing issues. Ha, what a joke our city government has become!!!

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The city council can vote on this AND act on other issues. Amazing but true.

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I'm pretty sure the rules of the city council only allow debate and voting on one item at a time. Any hours devoted to this are indeed lost to other pending measures.

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I didn't realize you were unfamiliar with how the city council works, so here's a quick primer:

They discuss an issue and vote on it.
They take up another issue, discuss it and vote on it.
They repeat until done.

As for the present measure, I watched the Committee on Government Operations hearing on this measure yesterday. Chairman Flaherty introduced the proposed bill. BPD Commissioner Bill Evans spoke for about five minutes. The mayor's aide spoke for about two. Steve Murphy, chairman of the council's Committee on Public Safety spoke for about a minute. Flaherty concluded the hearing.

And now it comes up for a vote today.

No other measures have been harmed in the crafting of this proposed ordinance.

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It sounds like it works exactly as anon described -- according to your account they were in fact not debating or voting on other measures while this one was on the floor.

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In this day and age with all the crazy shit that has gone on lately, it seems changing the color, or other aesthetic aspects of toy guns is a no brainer.

Or maybe taxpayers should spends millions of dollars training cops to be able to tell the difference in a split seconds as peoples lives (including their own) are at risk what is real, and what is a toy.

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Billy Evans was a great Deputy Superintendent and Superintendent but he is one of the worst Boston Police Commissioner we have ever had.

This is the police mentality and cops are too aggressive. In most cases it is not a race issue as it is I am the law and I am bad ass and you will do what I tell ya. 30% to 70% of cops should not be on the job.

It also should be a lot easier to fire an officer without being heavily protected by the union or civil service.

I know cops that lied about their residency and used someone else's address to get on BPD. Isn't this called fraud?

I know a cop that admitted taking illegal drugs after coming up dirty on a random drug test. I don't know about you but if I came up dirty on a drug test in my job or any of the other jobs that I have had all of these years I would have been fired.

I know people that would do the job for less because it's in their heart or this is how they want to do to help people but as you can tell from how the cops were complaining they do not get paid enough from the last time they got the raise.

Think of all the perks a Bpd officer gets. Most of the time they get out of DUI's, get into clubs, sporting events for free, get out of a speeding ticket so their car insurance doesn't go up, as well as their family members. I have seen cops get free food and coffee and not even leave a tip. It must be nice to make over 100k and rake in all the other additional benefits. Hopefully, in the future cops will not be paid as much because they are costing the taxpayers.

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Even though the Constitution protects your freedom of speech. However who exactly do you believe attempts to enforce all your rights when you have been wrong. Who do you call when a crime has been committed against you or other people that you know a police officer who arrives on the scene when lies are in jeopardy and put their lives on the back burner even though they may have families a police officer. I'm not a police officer but one thing I have done SAT quietly in a room close my eyes and put myself in their shoes within 10 minutes I'm hopping out of those shoes.

I can even bet that you're not a police officer in know nothing about law enforcement set for what you see you on TV. What gives you the right to judge. Don't be so hypocritical. Be my phone not all police offices are assholes and it's only a very few that are. And who gives a damn if they get the perks most of them deserve extra side, provided that it's not illegal. And as far as you unions of concern regardless of the outcome, unions are certainly needed for the advocacy of the little guy, the working stiff, the ones who clean up your ship when you drop trash on ground and other public servant duties that they carry out. This certainly have been more positive outcome from union activities in any negative that you can ever imagine.
Unfortunately happy positive things are not reported only as an editor from Channel 5 told me as a child growing up and one of the city's public housing, what bleeds leads and that was his answer to me why do they only report carnage I never forgot you for that. You left me , a child, in tears for making that statement.

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I used to be and that's why I know o much about them. It's a lot worse than people know. You have no idea!

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We're the toy guns made in China or the USA or Mexico?

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