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New year brings new laws for Arkansas

By By Andrew DeMillo, The Associated Press

This article was published December 30, 2009 at 5:22 p.m.

The new year will bring new restrictions on the sale of toy guns in Arkansas, but two of the nation’s largest retailers say it’s a ban they’ve already been following.

Starting Friday, a state law takes effect banning the sale of realistic-looking toy guns. Lawmakers earlier this year approved the restriction, which says that stores can only sell toy guns if they include an orange tip at the barrel or are colored differently than real firearms.

The new law exempts imitation guns used for theater productions, war reenactments and sporting events. It also doesn’t apply to paintball, BB or pellet guns, as well as replicas of guns produced before 1898.

The Arkansas restriction is nearly identical to a federal law that’s been in effect since the late 1980s, but its sponsor said the measure was needed to clamp down on sales by smaller retailers around the state.

“There are some stores out there that are still selling them,” said Rep. Fred Allen, D-Little Rock. “This is designed to protect children and officers from violence and it’s designed to prevent imitation firearms from finding their way on school campuses.”

Stores that break the law can face fines of up to $1,000 per violation.

Allen said he had introduced the bill in part because of the fatal shooting of DeAunta Farrow, a 12-year-old boy who was killed by West Memphis police in 2007. The officer who shot Farrow said the boy was holding a gun.

The boy’s name was stripped from the proposed ban, however, after complaints from the family, who dispute police accounts that DeAunta was holding a toy weapon. A civil trial is pending in the case.

Major retailers in the state also say they don’t expect any major changes from the new ban. Bentonville-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc. says it already follows similar federal restrictions prohibiting the sale of realistic-looking toy guns.

Toys R Us, which has four stores in the state, said it has not sold realistic-looking toy guns in its stores since 1994.

Starting Friday, stores will also be required to only sell “fire-safe” cigarettes, or cigarettes designed to self-extinguish if left unattended. Retailers will be allowed to sell any remaining stocks of non-fire-safe cigarettes.

Arkansas becomes among the last states to enact such a change. Other states with laws going on the books this week are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

Wyoming is the only state that hasn’t passed such a law, according to the Coalition for Fire-Safe Cigarettes. Fire-safe cigarette laws will also take effect in Mississippi, Ohio and South Dakota by the first week of 2011.

Rep. Steve Harrelson, who had backed the restriction, said he had wanted the new law to take effect with the new year to coincide with restrictions in neighboring states Missouri and Tennessee.

“We’re just hoping to save lives,” said Harrelson, D-Texarkana. “That’s one of the things I think it will ultimately do.”

A spokesman for Richmond, Va.-based Altria Group Inc., owner of market-leading Philip Morris USA, said the company supported the Arkansas restriction and also hoped for a similar federal guideline. Altria spokesman Bill Phelps said the company usually hears some complaints from smokers when the change first takes effect.

“We will hear from consumers who notice a difference in the product, but that tends to go down to normal levels over time,” Phelps said.

Other laws set to take effect starting Friday:

— International student exchange programs will be required to register with the secretary of state’s office before placing students in Arkansas public or private schools.

— Chiefs of staff and deputy chiefs of staff for constitutional officers or the Legislature will be required to file annual statements of financial interest with the state.

— Health insurance policies will be required to cover prostate cancer screenings and treatment for men at least 40 years old. Another law requires health plans to offer at least $1,400 in coverage for hearing aids sold after Friday.

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tneal77707220720 says... December 30, 2009 at 7:46 p.m.

As far as the child that got shot in west memphis that is thanks to trigger happy "pig" . Arkansas is notorious to hire "good old boys" and give them a little authority with a gun, prime example of this is the dumb@#@ over in ozark that tasered a 10 yr old girl. They had better pray that this trigger happy, sorry excuse for law enforcement never due one of my children that way because I still believe in bible days ,an eye for eye and a tooth for a tooth. My heart does go out to the family of the 12 yr. old child !

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gruntpain1775 says... December 30, 2009 at 9:01 p.m.

oldstinky, You obviously must have more training in dealing with an Armed or possibly armed person than the officer who shot the child. I'm sure that you are fully aware, due to your extensive training and experience in life or death situations as a Law Enforcement Officer or a member of the military, that the Officer asked the child to inspect the weapon to see if it was in fact a toy before he had to pull the trigger. Or perhaps the officer, like all the other officers in Arkansas (as you seem to think), is nothing more than a crazed child killer...going around willy nilly shooting up everyone. Perhaps you could tell me, since your so much more experienced in this, how you would have handled it. Perhaps you have encountered children with real guns on a dark night or something? while responding to a call? on the Battlefield? I have. I find no fault in the officers actions. While it is tragic that the poor child died let us think about were the "blame" could be? the dead childs parents....like the parents of the 10 year old who was tazed...should be parents. That's an idea. How about we, as adults and parents, teach our children things. Respect, Discipline, moral and ethical values perhaps. Or maybe we should let the Government do it. Stop drinking the liberal Kool-aide. This is nothing more than a feel good law and will accomplish nothing. It's like staring at a trash can overflowing with trash. getting rid of the trash can is not the answer...taking out the trash is.

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gruntpain1775 says... December 30, 2009 at 9:34 p.m.

FYI...the type of toy gun the kid was using wouldn't even be banned by this law.

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Hoehandle says... December 31, 2009 at 6:05 a.m.

Well said Gruntpain. Old Stinkys comments stink for sure. The sorry parents should be more accountable for their offspring.I kinda like a law or ordinance that one of the Parishes in Louisiana had about kids with truancy problems. They locked the parent and kid up in the same cell. I'm told truancy is not so much of a proble there now. I think that law should be the law of the land.

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Walter says... December 31, 2009 at 10:37 a.m.

Well said Gruntpain and Hoehandle. It's time for PARENTS to start being parents, and to stop using the excuse that they don't have time. I was raised by my mother, in a single-parent environment, after my father died when I was five.
The rule was, you get in trouble at school, you're in trouble when you get home. And she enforced the rule.
Now the parents let their kids watch TV all the time, pay no attention to them or what they watch, then want to pass the blame when their kids get into trouble. They need to start looking in the mirror.

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Hope4MMX says... January 3, 2010 at 10:16 a.m.

I respect everyone's comments on the event that took place in West Memphis, but I must say I am surprised at how in an instant the blame is placed on the parents. Being a fellow West Memphian myself, I can assure you this is not the first time an incident of this nature has happened. However, this is the first time that it was broadcasted on the news. Not saying all police officers are bad, but WMPD has had a bad rep for years (especially for racial profiling, etc.) and instead of trying to instill trust in the community they keep digging a deeper hole. It's no secret that there is some tension between the black and white communities in WM. Truth is, it's been that way for as long as I've been living. Gruntpain1775..I understand that nobody is aware of the apprehensions that are felt when one is actually "in the moment" unless you have actually been in law enforcement. However, I don't think that the shoot to kill policy is standard; then again I could be wrong. Could he have not just subdued the suspect? Parents do need to step up and teach their children odedience, respect, and values; this is true. But have we not been preaching this same sermon for years to come now. "It takes a village to raise a child"..which was so true in growing years; we as a nation need to lead by example instead of turning the other cheek. 2010 needs to be an eye opener for everyone. Peace & blessings...

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gruntpain1775 says... January 4, 2010 at 4:20 p.m.

So now it was a racially motivated crime, am I correct? The officer shot the kid because he was black. Or could it have been that he perceived a threat? That threat being a handgun pointed at him. What was he supposed to do, ask pretty please put the gun down? Kid or not the officer shot someone who was pointing what he believed to be a gun at him. At that point in time all bets are off and the officer should have and did use deadly force. plain and simple end of story. As far as a village raising a child...that is Hilary Clinton rhetoric that does nothing but make it easier to pass blame. Parents are responsible for their children. I'm not responsible to the kids down the street if they go off and do a crime or grow up to be a CEO somewhere. The people on the next street over are not responsible for the actions of my own children. It doesn't take a village to raise a child, it takes PARENTS to raise their OWN CHILDREN. Either way, this law is pointless and will accomplish nothing. It's a knee jerk reaction that will not stop or prevent anything like this. The officer seen what he perceived as a threat and took action. Unfortunately a child was killed. Perhaps the child would be alive had the parents been more aware of what was going on and was watching the child. Whatever the case this incident does not warrant a new pointless law.

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