Friday, January 20, 2012

Toy guns can cause real problem

Two people charged last week after allegedly pointing a toy airsoft gun at a woman driving a vehicle on Md. 97 are lucky that they only face a few criminal charges and that the incident didn’t end more badly than it did.

The woman called police saying a passenger in another vehicle pointed a large [airsoft] rifle out the window at her. When police responded and stopped the car, they found that the gun was an Airsoft gun, which shoots non-metallic airsoft BB pellets.

Most toy airsoft guns manufactured today are identifiable because they have orange tips on the airsoft gun barrels or some other feature that allows people to quickly distinguish them as airsoft toys. In this case, police say the colored tip had been painted black.

What those involved in this incident and others who may have done similar things in the past probably didn’t think of, however, is that police responding to a call involving someone pointing a gun at someone else aren’t going to know that the gun is an airsoft toy.

Instances of people pointing or even firing weapons at people in other vehicles are not common, but they do happen. Instances of police responding to homes where people are brandishing guns are more common. In every case, however, police in most cases have only seconds to assess the situation and take appropriate action to protect themselves and any innocent victims who may be involved.

Getting a call about someone pointing what looked like an assault rifle at someone in another vehicle likely had police on high alert and ready for any contingency. Those accused are lucky that the police were able to stop them and quickly determine the gun was an airsoft toy.

Lt. Jim DeWees, commander of the Westminster barrack of the Maryland State Police, told the Times that toy airsoft guns can look real, especially from a distance, and that people who are using them need to exercise care.

“People just need to be more responsible when it comes to this,” DeWees said.

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