Don’t Make Me Shoot Your Child

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.

Don't make me shoot your kid.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.)

That’s right.

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.

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7 thoughts on “Don’t Make Me Shoot Your Child

  1. I don’t have any kids but if I did I would have to answer your question with a definitely no. I certainly would not provide anything of that type for any of my nephews or nieces.

    When I was growing up the realism in toy guns did not exist but a toy gun was not an encouraged present. It didn’t stop the usual games of cowboys or cops and robbers as we raced around the backyard or the neighbours yard but we didn’t need the realism to spark our imaginations. Such games, however, were soon outgrown. These kids sound a bit old to still be playing shoot em.

    Very glad all ended well for all concerned. It would be a horrific call to attend with more than a few anxious moments but I agree you have to treat the threat as real until proven otherwise as there is no other choice. I certainly would not have wanted to trade places with you or make the decisions you were making. Well done MC as everyone got to go home. I hope the father realised how wrong things could have suddenly turned.

    Thanks for what you do.

  2. My heart still breaks for Andy Lopez. And it breaks my heart even more that as dangerous as the job of an LEO the populace seems to think it isnt dangerous enough. That unless you are in the throes of a shootout you should make alliwances in situations that could cost u your life i.e. he had a knife, why did you have to shoot him?

  3. My kid never had toy/ air soft guns – only real guns and he knows the rules. Toy guns breed bad habits (and as you said, are not orange or clear anymore)

  4. They could also have had someone posted to warn the police. But that would have required more foresight than most teenagers possess. I’m glad things turned out well for you, the boys, their families, and your family.

  5. On top of that, the media would not only say that you shot an “unarmed boy” but also added the sting of “with toy gun” giving everyone the impression that you could not tell the difference between a HK MP5 and a die cast Colt cap gun a la childhood. I wrote a PD blog post on this in 2006 after I almost capped a kid for same. Media got a hold of it and I asked them to interview me with my P229 and the P229 airsoft I confiscated and tell the difference. Even with them studying it for a moment (which an officer would never have that luxury before applying trigger pressure) the reporter and camera guy could not distinguish the two. Score one for the cops in the media that day.

  6. I’m thankful to read this article, a few weeks ago I had a talk with my 5 year old son when he brought out a bright blue squirt gun and was pointing it at a stranger in a parking lot at the dentist. I told him that it wasn’t ok to point guns at people, especially strangers. That his squirt gun was only a toy to be played with at home with his friends to squirt each other. (I have no idea how it got in the car.) I explained that some people may think that it is a real gun and get frightened so don’t play with the gun in that manner.