Toy Industry Association (TIA) Statement on Toy Guns and Violence

The Toy Industry Association (TIA) and its members are proud of the important, life-shaping role that toys, games and play have in the development and growth of children. 

Toys themselves do not promote aggressive behavior. As Jeffrey Goldstein, Ph.D., author and professor of Media and Communication at the University of Utrecht in The Netherlands, has said: "There are no 'violent' or 'nonviolent' toys. There are simply toys, many fashioned after objects found in the adult world, and others inspired by fantasy objects found nowhere else.” Quite often, military and other role-play items may help kids work through or cope with what is happening in the world around them through play rather than through outwardly aggressive behavior.

Toys that foster friendly competition promote active bodies, active minds and healthy lifestyles. They keep kids moving, allow them to role-play (cops, superheroes, etc.), encourage teamwork and/or strategic thinking, empower both genders, allow them to work through their emotions, and help them to forge their own identities and develop moral values. The toy industry makes it a priority to ensure the safety and well-being of kids while bringing joy to their lives.

Some groups, however, have tried to establish a direct, causal connection between societal violence and specific types of toys. These allegations are nearly always emotional and not based on sound science or research.

According to Goldstein, “(Toys) give form to behavior by stimulating play, but they do not motivate aggressive behavior. Toys are the intermediary between the child and the world in which he/she lives. The family environment – far more than the toy itself – is the decisive factor in a child's character. How a parent behaves toward a child has much more influence than a toy.”

There have been a number of unfortunate incidents where items have been mistaken by law enforcement for real guns, often resulting in tragedy. While the items involved are often described as “toy guns”, they are not – they are typically non-powder weapons such as BB or pellet guns, “airsoft” guns, paintball guns, or replica firearms. Toys are subject to stringent federal marking requirements that mandate the use of brightly-colored markings; these other items are not.

This statement was revised by the Toy Industry Association in October 2016.