Toy guns could be a deadly game |

Toy guns could be a deadly game

Toy guns have long been a fascination of young children as they play in their backyards pretending to be in imaginary places.

Most of the time these imaginary escapades are harmless. But as recent technology and our society has progressed, so has the realness of the toy guns our children play with.

I remember as a little child having a cap gun that made popping sounds. I also remembered the cap gun as being small and a different color besides black. Most of them were orange or an attractive color.

Today, this type of toy is getting harder to find, but very real looking gun replica pistols or rifles have taken its place and are available at any toy store.

As a parent, I challenge you to look through your child’s toy chest or closet and find their toy guns that you may have purchased for them. How real do they look? If you are unfamiliar with guns it’s as simple as looking up guns on the Internet to compare your child’s toy gun to a real gun.

I am making this point with one main thought in mind. Officers with the Truckee Police Department have had recent and past calls for service involving guns. However, these calls are not dispatched as children playing with guns. They are also dispatched as handguns being brandished or a man with a gun.

These incidents involved children pointing replica guns out of windows and at the same time lighting fireworks. In other cases it involved brandishing the “toy guns” at other children. Reports have been filed in the past to include arrests for displaying an imitation firearm.

Recent police reports have reported that suspects are purchasing real guns and converting them to appear as if they are replica guns. This is accomplished by painting the tip of the gun either fluorescent orange or green as required by toy gun manufacturers. In some cases the suspects have gone as far as painting the whole gun a different color other than black or chrome to disguise the gun.

Officers are now challenged with this dilemma on the streets as well.

Officers throughout the nation have had to make split-second decisions, confronting children and adults who have been in possession of very authentic-looking replica guns. Several incidents involving officers throughout the nation have been repeatedly faced with “deadly force situations” involving replica guns. BB guns, cap guns, Air Soft guns and simple toy guns have been seized during these incidents.

In some cases officer’s have shot or wounded children or adults when they decided to point the gun at the officer. Injuries and deaths have occurred due to these unfortunate circumstances.

Officers throughout the nation have one goal. Certainly it is our goal to protect and serve our community, but it is also our goal to go home at night to our own families.

It has been a long battle throughout the nation to ban replica guns from being sold to children. Certain stores have placed restrictions on the sale of these toy guns.

It is the confrontation with a child in possession of a replica firearm that is every officer’s nightmare. Many of our officers are parents themselves. It would be an unthinkable tragedy for our community, the officer and the child’s family if an officer was placed in a situation where he used deadly force in confronting what he believed to be an armed subject, only to learn later the armed suspect he/she confronted was a child with a replica gun. Parents must be aware of the dangers created by replica guns in the hands of mischievous or naïve children.

The law addresses imitation or replica firearms with several statutes (12556 P.C). It defines an imitation firearm as any BB device, toy gun, replica of a firearm or other device that is so substantially similar in coloration and overall appearance to an existing firearm as to lead a reasonable person to believe the firearm is real.

It is an infraction to simply display or expose an imitation firearm in public. The fine is $100 for the first offense and $300 for the second offense. It is a misdemeanor to brandish an imitation firearm in public and punishable by a minimum of 30 days in the county jail. It is also a misdemeanor to remove any safety markings or colorations on a imitation firearm designed to be designated as a toy.

Parents, you are responsible for your children. We all know children often make poor decisions as they grow up. It’s how they learn and mature. But from the hearts of the entire Truckee Police Department, please don’t provide your children with toy guns that could bring about a deadly confrontation with an innocent child. If you are unsure the toy guns your child has are unsafe, feel free to contact our agency. We consider it our privilege to assist you in keeping your child safe.

” Police officer Arnie Lopez is the Truckee 2006 Police Officer of the Year. Lopez grew up in Truckee.

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