WASHINGTON, July 13 (AFP) - A US gun maker has triggered controversy by selling a kit that makes a real Glock pistol look like a children's Lego toy gun, at a time when hundreds of kids are falling victim to shootings.
The colourful brick design gives the semi-automatic weapon a strong resemblance to a Lego toy. The gun maker was marketing it as a Block19, which sold for between US$549 and US$765.
"Here's one of those childhood dreams come to life," said Culper Precision in an advertisement for the gun on Instagram posted on Jun 24.
"Guns are fun. Shooting is fun. 30 rounds full auto is fun," the company said on its website. The post has since been deleted from the company's website.
The Danish manufacturer of the building blocks has sent the Utah-based company, Culper Precision, a demand to stop producing the red, blue and yellow covering for handguns.
"Our organisation reached out to Lego, which then sent a cease and desist letter to the reckless gun maker," said Shannon Watts, founder of the group Moms Demand Action, which advocates for stricter gun controls.
Watts, who stressed that "unintentional shootings have risen by 30 per cent in the past year", told the Washington Post her first reaction upon seeing the gun was that it was "sick and children would die".
She said that in 2021 there had been more than 165 accidental shootings by children in the US, according to the organisation Everytown. Last year, 142 people died as a result of accidental discharges by children or minors, the same group said.
Culper Precision's CEO Brandon Scott confirmed to the Washington Post that he had received Lego's formal notice and said the company had decided to comply, after having sold fewer than 20 of the items.
In a statement on Facebook on Wednesday (Jul 14), the company said it had built the Block19 "to highlight the pure enjoyment of the shooting sports".
"People have the right to customise their property to make it look like whatever they want. It is our business to assist firearms owners in making their guns better reflect them as a person and individual, our pieces speak to the owner of the gun as they have selected those options from a seemingly infinite range of possibilities," it added.
"Rather than live in fear of the loud voices on social media we decided to release Block19 in an attempt to communicate that it is ok to own a gun and not wear tactical pants every day and that owning and shooting firearms responsibly is a really enjoyable activity."
The controversy comes at a time when President Joe Biden has made the fight against the "epidemic" of gun violence one of his priorities.
The Democratic president presented measures in June to limit the circulation of firearms at the federal level, but Congress is deeply divided on the issue and the Democrats are struggling to push legislation through.