The City of Oshawa passed a bylaw on Tuesday night that bans children from possessing toy guns and replica handguns.

Durham Region Police Const. Todd Petzold is leading the charge to get the imitation firearms off the streets because he says the toy guns pose a serious public threat.

"Young kids don't understand the possible consequences. To them it's a game, they're playing with a plastic gun," Petzold told CTV's MairiAnna Bachynsky.

"They don't recognize that as a police officer, especially at night, we see some of these guns in the hands of children, we don't know if they're real or not, and that's a concern."

The size and shape of the replicas are very similar to real firearms, he said.

"When I'm faced with somebody at night outside of a convenience store or wherever it is, and he has a gun like this, I can't tell the difference," Petzold said.

Police also say the use of plastic guns in crimes such as robbery, threatening or intimidation is on the rise.

The Oshawa bylaw means all of Durham, except for Pickering, would have the replica ban in place. The rule restricts all those under the age of 18 to possess a fake firearm on public property or on private property where the public has general access.

The Township of Scugog was one of the first municipalities in Ontario to institute the bylaw when it did so last year.

Petzold wants his campaign to spread to surrounding municipalities.

"It has shown some interest elsewhere. York Region's picking up on it and I'll be dealing with them next month, and I would love to talk to Toronto about it as well," he said.

"Let's get these things off the streets."

Mayor David Miller described the proposed bylaw as "an interesting idea," but he is primarily concerned with a ban on real handguns.

Attorney General Michael Bryant is willing to explore a province-wide replica ban.

"We support the principle of doing everything we can to eliminate the dangers that these (toys) can cause," Bryant said.

With a report from CTV's MairiAnna Bachynsky