Bloomberg Persecutes Cooperative Shop Owner: $60,000 Fine For Selling Lighters Shaped Like Guns


Fred Shayes, owner of a small tourist shop in midtown Manhattan, is going to have to go out of business if Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office doesn’t let up.

The city came after Shayes after discovering his store was selling small, toy novelty cigarette lighters – little trinkets that cost less than $10 apiece – that had black handles, silver casings and red tips at the ends (you know, to let people know the tiny gun-shaped device pointed at the end of your cigarette isn’t, in fact, a real gun). Each lighter is about three inches long and fits easily into the palm of an adult’s hand.

But in New York City, toy guns can’t be silver and black. They have to be plastic-looking, in bright colors like blue or red or neon. In other words, they have to look more or less like the world’s first successfully-fired 3D printed (real) gun, the Liberator.

Credit: GUNS.COM

The minute the city notified Shayes his tourist knick-knacks didn’t conform to code, he got rid of them.

“The day the inspector came, he said, ‘This is illegal,’” Shayes told the New York Post. “I took it off the shelf right away. I sent it back, and I showed them the invoice that proved I returned it.”

Fair enough, you might think. But cooperating with the Bloomberg administration doesn’t get gun sellers very far – even the ones who aren’t really selling guns. That’s because Bloomberg thinks toy guns are culturally dangerous and is waging a campaign to end toy gun sales. “We are working hard to make sure these fake guns stay out of kids’ hands,” he boasted in reiterating the city’s Public Safety Law. “Anyone thinking of selling fake guns should take this as a clear warning: it’s time to get rid of these dangerous toys. If you attempt to sell illegal fake guns, our Administration will come after you, and use whatever resources we have under the law to punish you.”

Shayes is finding that out the fun way. Even though he cooperated with the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs from the beginning, he was fined $60,000. Then he appealed the fine, and lost. Now he has a petition before the Manhattan Supreme Court to block the fine.

“We don’t have the money,” he said. “I would have to take a loan out from the bank to pay that.”

Personal Liberty

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

Join the Discussion

Comment Policy: We encourage an open discussion with a wide range of viewpoints, even extreme ones, but we will not tolerate racism, profanity or slanderous comments toward the author(s) or comment participants. Make your case passionately, but civilly. Please don't stoop to name calling. We use filters for spam protection. If your comment does not appear, it is likely because it violates the above policy or contains links or language typical of spam. We reserve the right to remove comments at our discretion.

  • Grandpa David

    3 inches long. ? No way it could be confused with a real gun, so the reason for the law is not met. Liberals have no brain.

    • Jon Robert McSpadden Jr.

      Kids cannot even play cowboys and Indians any more at school. Or army games. Nothing like when I was a kid. A kid with a cap gun, Lord forgid that might be a felony now. And if a criminal is dumb enough to try and rob someone with a cap gun, well I would have to say that’s pretty stupid and when he meets up with a man or woman with a real gun….now that will make for a happy ending.

      • me

        when these kids grow up and by any chance a war breaks out should they allow themselves to be drafted into the military? why should they use a gun in war if they cannot have any as civilians?

    • me

      i was in the sutherlands lumber yard store the other day. there were some bbq grill lighters shaped like guns. they were about 8 in. long. that idiot probly would have raised hell about something like that too.

  • icemancold

    WELL:: I wonder if Bloomberg has told his SECURITY DETAIL that they can not have guns?. CAN BLOOMBERG BE FINED $60,000.00 EACH FOR EVERY GUN HIS SECURITY DETAIL HAS ?? This should be the LAW if a store owner can be fined for lighters then BLOOMBERG should be fined for each gun his security detail carries.!!!

    • Daniel F. Melton

      If bloomberg’s security detail were disarmed, some of the thugs who ignore the law might shoot him……. Not a bad thing IMO.

  • Darral

    Bloomberg is a typical Democrat, no more no less, He just shows it more, They the Democrats don’t care about a successful business, they want to destroy it with any excuse they can, they want people dependent on them this is their life blood because people who are dependent on the Democrats are servants of the democratic party, and that’s the way they want it. Abolish this destructive treasonous Democratic party,

    • FreedomFighter

      Im sure if we dig into Bloombergs affairs we will find criminal activity, its the democrat way…so why don’t we turn the tables on this commi., let us expose this criminal and put him away.

      Laus Deo
      Semper FI

      • CommonSense4America

        FF, I normally agree with you, but not this time. Bloomberg ran as an Independant.

        • R Moon

          Bloomberg is a snake. He used to be a Democrat and then he ran as a Republican to win the Mayor spot and then he switched to Independent. No matter how you cut it, he’s a LIBERAL, COMMIE PRRRICK. I don’t know how any educated person can vote liberal or Democrat, they’re habitual crooks and their main objective is to gain complete control over our lives. They want us to be the new Slaves.

  • jon field

    how can this be legal??? that it is even THINKABLE to make a lighter that looks like a gun illegal is pure madness…there MUST be a way to stop this insanity…ive heard of kids being suspended for wearing shirts with PICTURES of guns…..and for pointing pencils and saying “BANG!”….only a FOOL would stoop so low ….the disarmament agenda people have gone berserk

  • Dirty Daug

    Everyone knows a Liberal Democrat and they should not give them the time of day.

  • NObama_Holder_Reid_Pelosi_2012

    Bloomberg is going to end up running New York into the ground just like the Democrats run Detroit into the ground. Many areas around NYC are not far from Detroit. They keep up their ridiculous BS and more and more people are going to leave the State all together an take their business and money to another State. I don’t think they can operate a City much less a State on tax revenue from Starbucks and the likes there of alone.
    With the power of the internet these days, aside from a ton of taxi business and pizza shops, anything the majority of the business’s are doing there, can do it in another State. Bloomberg will make New York as irrelevant to this Nation as Detroit, Dearborn, Flint and basically all of Michigan, Cleveland and Chicago has become.

  • JimH

    He should have just taken them off the shelf and done nothing else.
    The New York Gestapo wouldn’t have been any the wiser.
    His mistake was trying to comply with the law.
    just where is this “free country” people talk about?

  • BobinCA

    One day the people there will wake up and find the whole place is a FEMA Camp. Communist America at it finest. I wonder who’s running the white house? Just follow the money. Even the courts are in his pocket, I hope the people there are doing something to bring this to a close. I wonder if they know about a peoples Grand Jury there, the mayor can be held accountable for his actions.

    • independent thinker

      “One day the people there will wake up and find the whole place is a FEMA Camp.”
      If I remember correctly a movie was made several years ago called “Escape From NY” where NY City was walled in and used as a penal colony.

  • me

    bloomberg is going out of office before long. i hope the people of nyc vote smart and get away from any bloomberg backed candidate. right now bloomberg makes all the rules. nothing but people control. i’m surprised someone hasn’t stood up against it. too over done.

  • securityman

    people need to keep in mind the idiots that try to control their city, state, government, etc; and on the next election, do something about it. Bloomberg is a dangerous idiot for the things that he is putting forth. I mean,seriously, toys and the big gulp!!!!!! it is not the law that he is trying to go for, it is the “control” of the people. so, if he is re-elected, then you can only blame the idioots that let him have that control !!!!!


    Blumbooger ought to reveal his true nature by dressing and strutting around in a black SS nazi uniform, he needs to pay for his own security, be denied ownership of a gun because he is nutz. He needs to be fed salt, sugar and made to chew tobbacco so that he knows exactly the what and why deprivation of personal liberty is none of his biz…You folks in NYC are just as crazy as he is for letting him stay in office and that damn fool you call a governor needs to be in the same asylum that should house Blumboger and the Ca. Brown Flake…….

  • Tlance

    Bet there would be no problem if it was shaped like a Hammer or Syckle.

    • Ed Kohl

      don’t you mean, a hammer and a sickle?

      • independent thinker

        Hammer and Sickle—Hammer or Sickle, it works either way.

  • momo

    I hope Fred Shayes wasn’t drinking a big gulp when Bloomberg’s gestapo came into his store.

  • Ron

    My god what would this country do with out people in power? Live free, NO-NO-NO can’t have that in NYC.

  • blaineiac

    “Escape from New York”…or something…Art imitates Life?? …or not…

  • Ibn Insha

    So what if he has to take a loan. Government is god and with its unlimited resources it would not rest unless it brings utter destruction to people guilty of sin as heinous as selling a harmless cigarette lighter.

  • Gabriel Vigon

    Destroying a man’s life? Wow. To make a stupid political point that has no psychological grounding in truth. How many of us played with toy guns? How many of us caused mass shootings? I rest my case.

  • les1971

    When will bloomnut get shot??/

  • Major Domo

    I would think this falls under some sort of free speech protected by the constitution. Maybe time for a little civil disobedience?

  • Major Domo

    The founding fathers are rolling over in their graves.