The Oxford Street store withdrew a whole range of lifelike Spanish and Italian-made toy guns on Friday evening. A spokeswoman for the shop said: "The senior management will be meeting on Monday morning to consider future retail policy concerning toy guns." The toys withdrawn from sale ranged in price from pounds 5.99 to pounds 24.99, and formed part of an 8ft-long display dedicated to toy weapons. They included a version of the heavy-calibre Magnum revolver, which featured in the Dirty Harry films starring Clint Eastwood. Alongside the "Magnum" hung a convincing Colt-style revolver in a leather holster and a .45 calibre automatic pistol that, at a glance, only an expert would know was a fake.
A short statement from Selfridges linked the move directly to the public concern and official action on guns following the Dunblane massacre. It stated: "In response to public opinion and the Government's review of gun laws, Selfridges has withdrawn toy replica guns from the shop floor for the foreseeable future." Paddy Shannahan, in charge of media relations at the store, added: "I made sure that they were sent back to the warehouse straight away so that weekend staff wouldn't re-stock the display with them by mistake. I think the only things left down there were water pistols.
"We are extremely sensitive to the issues these toys raise, and removed other, larger, more exact copies of guns within days of the Dunblane tragedy in March. The ones that were taken away on Friday were smaller but unmistakably intended to resemble real guns."
Toy weapons form a large part of the toy market in Britain, and the trade stands to make huge profits from them in the run-up to Christmas, but there were signs yesterday that other retailers might take similar action to Selfridges.
Tim Waterstone, the former bookshop magnate who is to open the first of a new chain of Daisy and Tom toyshops next spring, announced that his new shops would all be "toy-weapon-free zones".
"Personally I really hate guns, and I am hoping to attract a like-minded clientele," said Mr Waterstone, who made pounds 40m three years ago from the sale of his bookshops to WH Smith.
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