Worries fire up over tiny but risky crossbow toy

Top News | Phoenix Un 23 Jun 2017

Shooting toothpicks at people using a palm-sized crossbow that is sold as a toy can land you in jail for up to three years.

Hong Kong police issued the warning following the increase in popularity - especially in the mainland - of toothpick crossbows that are in effect offensive weapons capable of firing needles and nails.

The crossbows, sold online for as little as 7 yuan (HK$8), were originally designed to shoot just toothpicks.

But mainland journalists carried out tests and found that the crossbow missiles can travel up to 80 kilometers an hour over a distance of more than 20 meters.

They also said toothpicks can penetrate aluminium cans, while needles can punch holes in glass. The tip of a missile shot into a piece of pork was buried by up to four centimeters.

"The toothpick crossbow toy has spread like wildfire among the nation's primary and middle-school children," the Shanghai Daily said.

Anxious parents want them banned before someone gets blinded or worse.

"Hurry up [and ban them], pupils do not understand and are just shooting people for fun. It will cause accidents sooner or later," one parent wrote on Weibo.

Another worried web user wrote: "Our primary school began to investigate this they're very dangerous."

Mainland law enforcement bodies are already tackling the problem with police in Chengdu, Sichuan, seizing the supposed toys from shops near schools.

Hong Kong police are very concerned, although a spokeswoman said they have not received any complaints yet.

Anyone carrying the bow in a public area will be breaching the offensive weapons ordinance and is liable to three years' imprisonment and a HK$5,000 fine, she said.

Barrister Albert Luk Wai-hung said: "Prosecutions under the Public Order Ordinance can result in imprisonment if guilty, and the court won't allow a suspension of sentence, or a fine or community service order as a substitute."

He believed police will use the Public Order Ordinance as the crossbow can cause serious harm.

Gilly Wong Fung-han, Consumer Council chief executive, said she is extremely concerned as "the crossbow is too dangerous."

She added: "Customs should strictly enact the Toys and Children's Products Safety Ordinance and ban the toy if it is being imported to Hong Kong."

The Customs and Excise Department said it has so far received two complaints regarding the crossbows.

Macau police have warned that the toy will be considered a weapon.

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