These days it seems we can’t go a week without hearing about school shootings. Statistically speaking, they actually aren’t all that common nor have they increased as much as the media would lead us to believe. Suffice it to say, however, it’s still at the forefront of most of our minds.
When I went to school, we didn’t have school resource officers and there weren’t many instances (or any, really) of guns in school. Today, though, we police officers can’t really take that with a grain of salt. We can’t afford to.
This post is not about kids taking guns to school.
It’s about parents making questionable decisions (or being completely indifferent) with regard to letting their kids play with Airsoft guns.
Just google “police shoot kid with toy gun“. The fact that there are so many results should terrify you…as a cop and/or as a parent.
Imagine my quandary when I faced a similar situation recently.
I was dispatched to the report of three white males, in their late teens or early 20’s carrying handguns at the end of a dead-end street. I arrived on scene about a couple of minutes before my closest cover.
When I rode up to the dead-end (a dubious choice of words, but there it is), I saw three white males. They looked significantly younger than the reporting party described; however, two of them were wearing military/SWAT-style ballistic vests. All three were carrying what appeared to be weapons. Two had handguns and the other had an MP-5 style weapon. One of them was also carrying a tripod.
Since I’m on a fairly quiet motorcycle, they must not have heard me roll up on them. So, with my left hand, I pulled in the clutch. With my right, I drew my pistol and pointed it at the three of them. I keyed my P.A. and told them to place their weapons on the ground.
Words can’t describe to you the joy that coursed through me when they followed my order immediately and with no attitude or hesitation whatsoever.
I made the assumption that these were just kids out filming at the end of a quiet street. Maybe it was a school project. Maybe it was for YouTube (which is actually what they said they were doing). The point is, until I got confirmation, I was not willing to bet my life that the weapons they were carrying were not real.
Let me be clear here.
I would have shot any of them that decided to point one of the weapons at me. From 20′ away and with no orange tips (two had none…one had been painted black), I had no way of knowing they were merely Airsoft guns. (By the by, it’s a misdemeanor in the state of California to alter a fake gun so it appears to be real.)
I would shoot a 14-year-old boy…
…had he decided to point his gun at me…because in my mind, those weapons were real until I had hard evidence that they were not.
[Tweet “Don’t put me in a situation where I may have to shoot your child. #LeaveTheAirsoftAtHome”]
That’s a bitch of a burden, my friends.
I can’t imagine the guilt that would have been with me for the rest of my natural life if I had killed what the media surely would have referred to as an “unarmed boy”. It would have been a tragedy for absolutely everyone involved.
And that is exactly what I told the boy’s dad when he showed up.
I am not prone to rash decisions when it comes to these kinds of matters, so maybe those boys were lucky I responded. Maybe I was lucky those boys decided that following my orders was a good idea. Maybe we were all lucky that God blessed the lot of us with fairly cool heads.
Rest assured, though, that I went home that night pretty damn happy that things played out the way they did.
Did I do stuff like that when I was a kid? Sure…but the toy guns I had were clear or bright freaking orange.
Letting your kids go out into a public area and play with guns that look exactly like legitimate weapons is stupid at best and could very well result in the death of your child at worst.
Question: Do you let your kids play with realistic looking toy guns? You can leave a comment by clicking here.