Albany, NY - July 7, 2015 - U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today publicly urged online retailers, including Amazon and eBay, to immediately stop selling potentially dangerous iPhone cases made to look exactly like a real gun. The Senator also revealed a federal law that is likely being broken by the makers of the new iPhone gun grip case—the same federal law he is urging Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to target as part of his push to halt the import of the gun grip cases that are making their way to the pockets of young people. The fake gun phone case features the grip of an actual gun and trigger guard, and can be found online for approximately $5.00-$49.00. Schumer cited fervent warnings by the NYPD when describing the very real dangers of the new iPhone gun grip case, which is advertised to complement a person’s front or back pocket, brandished as if it were a real weapon.
“Any retailer willing to sell this potentially dangerous and tasteless handgun iPhone case is making a very bad call and putting lives at risk. We should be doing everything in our power to end the rash of gun violence across the country, however, this product simply promotes it. Moreover, this iPhone gun case can result in tragedy if mistaken for a real gun. I hope that Amazon and eBay take urgent action and remove all gun grip phone case products from their sites,” said Senator Schumer.
The “Gun Grip Case,” which can be used on iPhones 5, 5S, 6, 6S can be found online at Amazon.com and eBay.com through third party retailers. The cellphone case closely resembles a 9mm handgun and is comprised of the grip of a gun and trigger guard. An iPhone can be placed in the middle section of the case. Online retailers describe the phone case as “cool,” “trendy,” and “stylish.” However, local law enforcement in New York City and Long Island have raised concerns about the new phone case because they look disturbingly similar to a real weapon and can be easily mistaken for a gun. In addition, the “Gun Grip Case” can be used with a Russian roulette app that transforms your phone’s screen into the image of a gun barrel.
Schumer highlighted federal law (15 USC 5001) that requires “each toy, look-alike, or imitation firearm [to] have as an integral part, permanently affixed, a blaze orange plug inserted in the barrel of such toy, look-alike or imitation firearm.” Schumer said that because the “Gun Grip Case” is a look-alike firearm, it must include an orange plug in the barrel. As it stands, the “Gun Grip Case’ is likely in violation of this federal law and therefore, illegal to sell and transport.
Schumer urged Amazon and eBay to immediately stop selling the iPhone gun grip cases on their sites and cites the federal law in his letter to the online retailing giants. Schumer also urged CBP to examine whether or not imports of these gun cases to the U.S. should be stopped. Schumer said not only do these cases likely violate federal law, they can also result in dangerous consequences if a law enforcement agent or other individual mistakes the case for a real gun and fires a weapon in defense. Schumer said this product is a disaster waiting to happen and that the feds should crackdown on this dangerous product before disaster strikes.
A copy of the Senator’s letters are below:
Dear Commissioner Kerlikowske,
Thank you for your continued support to keeping our nation safe and our borders secure. Your commitment to our nations’ security is appreciated and I salute the work you have accomplished.
I am writing today to call to your attention a product currently being imported for sale in the United States in contravention of our federal laws. The product is an iPhone, which is shaped to disguise a cellphone in the form of a realistic looking handgun. The case is currently being listed for sale on a variety of online retail platforms, including Amazon and eBay. It is my understanding that most of the cases are being supplied by a number of foreign manufacturers and are being imported into the United States.
The case can pose real risks to children or others who use it, because it could easily cause a phone to be mistaken for a real weapon. Concerns about realistic looking fake weapons are precisely why federal law prohibits such products to be sold in the United States without a distinguishing orange blaze so observers know that they are not real. Section 5001 of Title 15 U.S. Code, which codifies penalties for entering imitation firearms into commerce, states that it is unlawful for any person to manufacture, sell, or receive any look-alike or imitation firearm – unless the firearm contains a distinctive orange plug. The products being listed on the aforementioned sites does not have the necessary identifying orange plug. For these reasons, I echo the calls of police around the country, including those in the 112th Precinct of the NYPD, to prohibit the sale of these products and prevent unnecessary burdens and risks for our local law enforcement.
Since CBP is responsible for ensuring that contraband material is not imported into the United States, I ask you to step up your inspections and block the importation of these fake weapons that appear to be in violation of US law.
Again, thank you for your continued work to protect our nation. I look forward to hearing from you on this important issue and working with you in the future.
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer
Dear Mr. Bezos and Mr. Donahoe,
As the proprietors of two of America’s leading online commerce sites, you do excellent work helping my constituents get products they need in an efficient and cost-effective manner. I worry, however, when your sites become fora for the sale of inappropriate or illegal products. I write to you today regarding my serious concerns surrounding an iPhone case that disguises a cellphone as a handgun and is offered for sale on your sites. This product can have deadly consequences; in fact, I believe that current law prohibits their sale.
The iPhone case in question has the potential to be mistaken for a weapon and could lead to unprovoked incidents that may have otherwise been prevented. It is alarming that these products, which are clearly marketed to children, would be listed on the websites of major American retailers. Concerns about realistic looking fake weapons are precisely why federal law prohibits such products to be sold in the United States without a distinguishing orange blaze so observers know that they are not real. Section 5001 of Title 15 U.S. Code, which codifies penalties for entering imitation firearms into commerce, states that it is unlawful for any person to manufacture, sell, or receive any look-alike or imitation firearm – unless the firearm contains a distinctive orange plug. The products listed on your sites do not appear to have the necessary identifying orange plug. For these reasons, I share the concerns of police enforcement around the country, including those in the 112th Precinct of the NYPD, and echo calls for taking these products down.
I think we can agree that it is important to provide consumers with phone case options that are creative, trendy and fashionable. That said, I do not believe such efforts should come at the expense of our public safety. Thank you for your consideration of this issue and I look forward to hearing from you.
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer
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