It’s an issue that’s resurfaced after an officer fatally shot a 12-year-old boy carrying a pellet gun near a playground in Cleveland: Air soft guns, BB guns and toy guns looking identical to real weapons. In the case of the Cleveland incident, the boy’s pellet gun was designed to look like a real gun and had it’s orange identifier removed, according to police.
Upon first glance the fake guns appear real, which sends the public and law enforcement into high alert. Brooke County Sheriff Chuck Jackson says every officer is trained to react a certain way: identify the target, ensure the target is a threat and react from there.
“Whether he is a teenager or he’s an adult, we’re going to handle that as a man with a gun in a public place,” he said. “We are going to approach the place as tactfully as possible, as safely as possible.”
When residents of the Ohio Valley were asked whose responsible for making sure children aren’t leaving home carrying one of a fake weapon, they all agreed responsibility falls to the parents.
“I think its the parents responsibility to watch everything their kids are doing,” said Jerry Boyd of Wintersville. “Not just the guns, but the Internet, where they go and who they’re going with.”
“They should keep those guns at home where they are supposed to be and they should enforce that,” said John Balzano of Mingo Junction. “Don’t let them out with those guns at all.”
Jackson went on to say they have had cases of kids carrying these fake guns in Brooke County and fortunately none of the instances have ended in injury.