Despite the country’s fight against gun violence, toy shops selling guns to adults has never been significantly suppressed. As a result, children are obsessed with buying fake guns and reenacting scenarios from their favorite video games or movies.
Although in Punjab the sale of toy guns is banned, in Lahore it is illegal to sell toy guns. Visit the wholesale markets or go to the toy store that shows guns of various shapes and sizes sitting in all their glory for children to buy. For example, in Shah Alami, the city’s largest wholesale market, every year, fake ammunition is imported in huge quantities to meet demand.
A store owner in Shah Alami, who has been selling toys for several decades, told that downtown store owners are selling imported toy guns not only in Lahore but also in domestic markets. “Demand for accessory guns has never waned, so the toy gun trade is really worth millions of rupees.” When asked about the ban on the sale of these toys, the dealer scoffed and said that the police sometimes visited but did not take any action. “The ban issued in 2015 was only on paper, not in reality,” he wittily commented. Continuing his move, the trader said that some traders bribed to not take action, which set a precedent. “Laws are often brought against toy store owners who don’t pay bribes, so now everyone knows what they need to do to stay in business,” the retailer said.
According to different vendors in the wholesale market, the average price of a plastic gun ranges from a minimum of Rs 50 to a maximum of Rs 1,500 and most merchants sell ammo and plastic cartridges separately to increase more profit.
While stores are only interested in profits and not the dangers of toy guns, Dr. Javed Maher, an ophthalmologist based in the city, says he receives goods each year. Hundreds of children were affected from the eyes by plastic bullets. “The number of visiting children injured during the Eid holidays is always increasing. Plastic shells cause serious injury to students and I have had many patients with vision loss.
head of the department of psychology at the University of Punjab, agrees with this view. “Toy guns have a negative impact on children’s psyche and increase the tendency to crime in children.” Rafique said the university has conducted numerous research projects on the issue that have always come to the same conclusion: “Toy guns have a bad effect on children.” With violent shooting video games now becoming the norm, kids want to be able to play these games in real life, and this is where toy guns become a necessity, he said. Rafique added that because young minds are so easily swayed and real guns are so readily available in the country, it could create chaos if a ban on the sale of toy guns is not enforced. “Having access to toy guns at an early age will in some cases cause children to pick up real guns and dislike them. So the government really should do more to permanently end auxiliary firearms,” said Rafique.