Airsoft Gun Toys Could Turn Deadly: Please Beware!

I found this article from (an article from Shir Haberman), and this is relevant for those fellow shooters out there. Police find it difficulty in telling when weapon is real or an airsoft gun....

Please continue reading....

NORTH HAMPTON — Around 1 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 2, local police received a call from a resident of the Shel-Al mobile home park indicating two young men were roaming the grounds armed with high-powered rifles and wearing flak jackets.

When officers arrived, one of the two 17-year-olds fled. An officer pursued him in a cruiser and caught up with the subject. Seeing what appeared to be an AR-15 assault rifle, the officer then drew his gun and ordered the man to drop the weapon, which he did. It was determined at that point the rifle was really an airsoft pellet gun and not a deadly assault weapon.

The young man explained he and his friend were shooting at each other with the relatively harmless pellets and were not out to harm anyone. However, police Chief Brian Page said if the young man had swung around and pointed the rifle toward the officer, the incident could have ended in disaster.

"The officer used deadly force by drawing his pistol," Page said. "This could have been a very sobering incident."

Page said he is telling this story to educate parents and youngsters about the dangers of walking around with realistic-looking firearms.

"I don't want to take the fun away from the kids or tell parents not to buy these guns, but don't take them out in the street after dark, and use good judgment," the chief said.

Trinity Airsoft, of Wise, Va., manufactures and sells a range of pellet firearms and combat gear that so closely resemble the real thing that police are having a tough time telling them apart, Page said. Couple this with companies that will decorate real assault weapons in ways that make them look like toys, and law enforcement officials have to consider any weapon potentially dangerous, North Hampton Police Lt. John Scippa said.

"For an officer to respond (to an incident) and have to decide whether the weapon is real or a toy, clearly puts the officer at a disadvantage," Scippa said. "Law enforcement can't discount the dangers here."

Last Sunday's incident is the second toy gun event that has occurred in this town of 4,500 residents.

At about 8:15 p.m. on May 10, an employee at Al's Seafood on Lafayette Road called police about an individual dressed in a dark, hooded sweatshirt behind the store holding a pistol. When employees approached the suspect, he fled into the woods. Restaurant employees called the police and gave officers the suspect's license plate number.

t turned out the suspect was part of a game called assassin being played by Exeter High School's senior class and that he was in North Hampton because one of his "targets" worked at Al's. More importantly, the gun seen turned out to be a toy pistol that had been painted to resemble a real firearm. Page said he was glad things turned out the way they did rather than having an officer confront the subject in the woods and being unable to distinguish the pistol as a toy.

"That would have been tragic for everyone," Scippa said.

The police are not the only ones who could be involved in making a tragic error by failing to determine that a weapon is really a toy. The chief noted many people are now carrying firearms for various reasons. Should one of those people feel they are in danger, they are less qualified to determine the reality of the weapon being pointed at them than a police officer, something that could have tragic consequences.

Page suggested several things parents and youngsters could do to lessen the possibility of a pellet, BB or toy gun being mistaken for the real thing. They include:

* Notifying the police when a realistic-looking non-lethal gun is purchased,
* Notifying neighbors that such a gun is in your household,
* Not using the gun outside the confines of your property, and
* Not using the gun after dark.

The chief also recommended the use of safety glasses and protective gear to prevent self-inflicted injuries.

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