Sioux City council members have passed an ordinance giving officers a way to take action against someone misusing a toy firearm like a BB gun. The weapons are not being banned within city limits.
Sioux City has seen an increase in crimes with dummy guns or simulated firearms, motivating officials to rewrite the city’s weapons code to include toy firearms like BB guns and pellet guns that a person might use to harass or threaten a victim. Members of the Sioux City City Council unanimously passed the ordinance on Monday.
The ordinance prohibits people from carrying a simulated weapon in town. Sioux City Police Chief Rex Mueller says the ordinance is a tool for his department, and officers will determine, based on the circumstance, if someone is using a BB gun inappropriately.
“Are you going to threaten somebody with it? Are you going to harass somebody with it? Is your intent on using that simulated weapon to put somebody else in fear?” Mueller said. “That’s where we need that.”
Mueller said the ordinance does not restrict any sales or ownership. It addresses a “gap in the law.”
“We’ve got people doing crimes with these simulated weapons. We want something to deal specifically with that,” Mueller said.
The code says an officer could cite a person with a simple misdemeanor. According to Iowa Code, that means the person could be fined between $65 and $625, or face up to 30 days in jail.
The changes to the city’s weapons code go into effect once they are officially published by the city clerk.
The council held two prior readings of the ordinance at previous November meetings. The third reading on Monday was the final approval.
This story has been updated to clarify that the ordinance prohibits people from carrying a simulated weapon on their person in town.