March 22, 2008 -- A company that markets colorful paint for guns is now taking a shot at New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Bloomberg has strongly criticized painted guns, saying they can be easily confused for toys. The company, Lauer Weaponry, denies that allegation and is currently using the mayor's image on brightly-colored guns in what they confess is a "publicity stunt."
Amy Lauer, operations manager for the Wisconsin company, defended their decision to use cartoon colors to decorate firearms, saying most of them were requested, including one called "Barney Purple."
"We had a request by a customer to make that color so he could get his daughter into the shooting sports, and she requested her gun match Barney, so we made that color for him," she said.
After the New York mayor outlawed the sale of gun paint in New York City, the company began making a new line called "The Bloomberg Collection," in different shades for different boroughs, even some with a stencil of the mayor's face.
"We just use his caricature as a publicity stunt, basically," Lauer said. "We decided to put that on just our display guns. We don't sell that, or anything — just on display models."
City Hall is infuriated. "Quite frankly, we're disgusted," said New York City criminal justice coordinator, John Feinblatt. "When you think about this, the real risk is an innocent victim could be killed or a police officer could be killed."
Lauer dismissed the accusation that the color of the guns could potentially create confusion, and possibly cause deadly hesitation. The superintendent of the Chicago Police Department brought up his concern about incidents involving gangs of kids and cops in big cities.
"I don't think the majority of police officers would question it. I think they are trained to know that if they are in a threatening position, that they are supposed to protect themselves, and I don't think a color of a gun will make any difference to most officers," Lauer said.
"So many toys out there look so real ... if you point a gun at a police officer, you have to assume you are going to get shot, and parents need to train their children.
"I think most police officers are knowledgeable enough to know that guns can come in any color, pink, blue, green, black, and it doesn't make a difference," she said.
The owner of a New York gun range agreed that The Bloomberg Collection guns look like toys and said he wouldn't sell the paints, even if he could.
"If somebody pulls this gun out and points this at a cop, if he stops for a piece of a second to decide whether it's real or not, he's going to get shot," said Bob Derrig, owner of Westside Pistol Range.