Brightly colored guns stir Chattanooga councilman's ire

Brightly colored guns stir Chattanooga councilman's ire

August 7th, 2012 by Cliff Hightower in News

John Martin, co-owner of Shooters Depot, speaks about handguns that use colored polymers in their construction which could give them the appearance of toys.

Photo by Dan Henry/Times Free Press.

POLL: Should brightly colored guns be illegal?

For Chattanooga City Councilman Peter Murphy, some guns have gone a little too far.

He walked into a local sporting goods store a few weeks ago, he said, and what he saw astonished him -- two brightly colored Taurus .380-caliber pistols painted bright yellow and bright lavender.

They looked like toys, he said.

"I like guns," Murphy said, "but this is insane to me."

Murphy, who is the head of the council's Legal, Legislative and Public Safety Committee, now plans to discuss those guns in depth today during the committee's session and, in a week, possibly hold a vote on a resolution that asks that the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives "expedite rulemaking regarding the making of brightly colored firearm components."

But one local firearms store owner is already outraged at the idea.

John Martin, co-owner of Shooter's Depot, said Monday that it's ludicrous for the council to take a stand against perfectly legal guns.

"Does a gun look like a toy?" he asked. "That's totally subjective."

Murphy said he has spoken to local ATF agents who have said the bureau is considering rules that would limit or make illegal some of the weapons that can look like toys.

John Martin, co-owner of Shooters Depot, speaks about handguns that use colored polymers in their construction that could give them the appearance of toys.

Photo by Dan Henry/Times Free Press.

ATF officials could not be reached for comment on Monday.

Murphy said he has several concerns about the brightly colored weapons. He said he fears a child might see one, pick it up and play with it, thinking it is a toy gun. He also has heard law enforcement officials say it is hard for them to tell sometimes if those types of weapons are real or toys, he said.

Murphy said he knows several organizations are against gun manufacturers dressing up rifles and handguns in a way that makes them look like toys.

"I don't even know if the NRA would fight this one," he said.

The National Rifle Association did not respond to a request for comment.

Martin, though, said he thought Murphy's plan was ridiculous. It's easy for the reverse to happen and toy guns be made to look real, he said.

"You could get a squirt gun, paint it black and make it look like a real weapon," he said.

He also said he thought it unlikely the U.S. government would be affected much by a city resolution.

"This dude's looking for a platform," he said. "In my 60 years of life, I've never seen a city council affect federal legislation."

Council Chairwoman Pam Ladd said she would be interested in today's discussion about the resolution. She said she has questions on whether the council has any power in such a resolution.

"I don't know how effective we can be," she said. "I'm interested to see if it has a lot of merit."

Contact staff writer Cliff Hightower at chightower@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6480. Follow him at twitter.com/cliffhightower or facebook.com/cliff.hightower.