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Close calls with realistic-looking pellet guns spark warning

Washington County Sheriff's Office cites three incidents in four days


WCSO - These two pellet guns drew concerned 911 calls over the last week. The Washington County Sheriff's Office is warning parents that if children are going to play with toy guns, they should be brightly colored and not immediately confused with real firearms.The Washington County Sheriff’s Office is warning residents about the dangers of replica guns.

According to the Sheriff’s office, deputies have seen a surge in incidents involving fake firearms. Sgt. Bob Ray, a spokesman for the Sheriff’s office, said that the guns were very realistic and could cause “significant danger to the community.”

In the last four days, Ray said, deputies have had three separate calls to 911 reporting a person shooting or threatening to shoot people. In all three occasions, very realistic replica guns were used. The guns fired pellets or BB’s, according to Ray.

“Sheriff’s deputies are often forced into making split-second decisions about whether a gun is real,” Ray said. “In a rapidly developing situation, a realistic looking replica gun can easily be identified as a real gun, with potentially tragic results.”

In all three cases, Ray said, deputies were able to resolve the situations peacefully, but it wasn’t until closer examination that deputies realized that the guns weren’t real. Two of the three incidents resulted in arrests. 

“We work hard every day to ensure that our interactions with the public are as safe and peaceful as possible,” said Washington County Sheriff Pat Garrett. “These dangerously realistic guns are being marketed as cool and trendy, (but) when improperly used, the consequences could have catastrophic results.”

While actual statistics are difficult to calculate, reports of deaths, injuries and close calls involving replica guns are becoming more common across the nation, Ray said. Many of these incidents involved individuals using a replica gun to commit a crime.

Federal law requires airsoft guns to have an orange collar on the muzzle, transparent or neon-colored bodies. Toy guns are required to have a bright orange plug at the end of a non-shooting barrel or a body that’s brightly colored. Unfortunately, Ray said, pellet and BB

guns do not fall into either category.

Deputies caution the public to be wary of the possible repercussions of carrying or handling replica guns in public and ask parents not to allow their children to use these realistic looking guns.