Can you help meet a $10,000 challenge?

If WHYY receives 200 donations by 10 a.m. an anonymous donor will give WHYY an additional $10,000.

Donate now

Philly councilman wants to put sting in pellet gun sales ban

Listen

A Philadelphia councilman wants to toughen the penalties for merchants caught selling pellet or BB guns. 

It’s illegal to sell them in the city.

The pellet guns look too much like the real thing, said Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, putting police in a tough spot. On Thursday, he recounted one incident that easily could have gone bad.

“A police officer rolled up on [a woman’s ] grandson who had the BB gun tucked inside his pants. The officer had to pull out his revolver because he didn’t know if this gun is real or fake, and then basically apprehend this young man,” Johnson said. “We don’t want to see a tragedy based upon a young person having a fake gun, which someone thinks is real.”

Johnson said he wants to put some teeth in the existing ban by increasing the fines for violations.

“Currently the fines are from $150 to $300 dollars, and we want to increase it to $2,000 if you are selling illegal BB guns,” he said. The legislation also will focus on suspending the business license of anyone caught selling the pellet guns.

Any merchants who sell the guns are taking advantage of children and glorifying violence, Johnson said.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.