Committing a robbery with a fake gun would be treated by the justice system the same as an actual armed robbery if a bill under consideration at the statehouse becomes law. Prosecutors, law enforcement and convenience stores are backing the bill.
Kelly Meyers, with the Iowa County Attorneys Association, says a hold-up with a toy gun has serious consequences. “That clerk doesn’t necessarily know whether that gun is real or a toy. The trauma is the same. So, we would like to take a narrow approach to addressing this real-life problem,” Meyers said.
Prosecuting a fake armed robbery is difficult as well, according to Meyers. “The perpetrator leaves, for instance, and they ditch the gun somewhere – the county attorneys still have prove that was indeed a dangerous weapon, so the clerk is in trauma, they don’t know if that’s a real gun or a toy gun,” Meyers said.
At a meeting on the bill, some critics said the penalties for creating a crime with a fake or real weapon shouldn’t be the same. A leading gun rights advocate said the bill needs further study to determine if it will deter crime, or if it will help county attorneys prosecute someone.
(Thanks to Joyce Russell, Iowa Public Radio)