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NY Congressman Urges Amazon To Uphold Gun-Shaped Phone Case Ban

A New York congressman has called on Amazon to ban the sale of gun-shaped phone cases. Though officials say the online giant already has such a ban in place, one of its third-party retailers was able to slip through the cracks.

Democratic Congressman Eliot Engel last week called for the retail giant to stop the sale of cell phone cases that are made to look like guns. Although Amazon itself does not sell them, Engel found that a third-party retailer was able to list this type of case on Amazon’s online marketplace.

“These cases that you wrap around your cell phone that look like guns are dangerous and should be banned,” says Engel. “It’s obvious, it’s plain common sense that a policeman could interpret, could look at that and think it was a gun and somebody could get injured.”

Engel says Amazon officials phoned him February 8 to explain they do prohibit sale of the cases, but the third-party seller violated that policy. Therefore, Amazon would take down that listing immediately. Repeated requests for comment from Amazon were not returned. Engel says he was glad to hear from Amazon about its action.

“I have a bill that would do that, but if we can stop it without the bill that’s even better because my objective is to stop a tragedy before it occurs,” Engel says.

In July, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer urged online retailers, including Amazon and eBay, to immediately stop selling iPhone cases made to look like a real gun. Schumer had cited warnings by the New York Police Department about the dangers of the iPhone gun grip case, which was advertised to complement a person’s front or back pocket, brandished as if it were a real weapon. Both Amazon and eBay halted sales.

Also in July, after consulting with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the Department of Commerce, Engel, a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee , introduced the Gun Look-Alike Case Act, which would add phone cases shaped like guns to the statutory definition of gun “look-alikes” while giving the Consumer Product Safety Commission jurisdiction over these and similar products.

“Well I really think what Congress should be looking at is the Consumer Product Safety Commission should be regulating not only gun-shaped cell phone cases which, by the way, don’t kill anybody, but the actual guns,” says Gunn Barrett.

Leah Gunn Barrett is executive director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence.

“On one level, would we support this bill? Yeah, but what I would much rather get behind is Congress requiring that guns are regulated for consumer health and safety,” Gunn Barrett says.

Engel’s bill says any toy or look-alike firearm shall have a blaze orange plug inserted in the barrel. Engel’s bill has two Democratic sponsors, including New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney.

Copyright 2016 WAMC Northeast Public Radio

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