Lincoln police warn of dangers of realistic fake guns
LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - The Lincoln Police Department is warning parents about toy guns that can easily be mistaken for a deadly weapon.
“No officer wants to be involved in a deadly force situation where they later find out the weapon was a toy gun,” Captain Todd Kocian said.
Lincoln Police Officers brought in what appeared to be several guns to an interview with 10/11 News, and asked reporter Bayley Bischof to try and correctly identify which were real and fake. In nearly every case, she was wrong. Officers said it’s even more difficult to discern real from fake in a high stress active police scenario.
“If you’re taking them someplace with your friends, horsing around with them, other people could see that and totally think it’s real and that can have some very drastic consequences,” Kocian said.
Those are situations officers are in more often this year. Weapons offenses are up 41 percent overall, but the offenses where they get out to the scene and discover the weapon was fake are up 259 percent. There have been 23 cases, but the officers said that’s 23 where something could have gone seriously wrong.
They’re asking parents not to purchase realistic looking bb, pellet, airsoft or splatter guns for their children. It is against city law to provide a weapon like this to minors.
“Although it’s a toy and your intent would be to have your child have fun with it, please keep in mind they may be having fun but someone else may perceive that has a real weapon,” Kocian said.
They said it’s also important that if someone is going to carry a realistic fake gun to understand the perception.
“Are these going to stop being made, no,” Sgt. Chris Vollmer said. “But what we’d like to ask is if you’re buying these understand what it can look like. Nobody but the person holding this and the person who purchased it is going to know it’s not real. If you’re contacted by law enforcement or anybody else in authority, understand their perception is this is a real firearm and act accordingly.”
In a post on Facebook, LPD shared a picture of three guns and asked what each had in common. The post noted that none of the firearms are a firearm under Nebraska or federal law. The three firearms in the picture are a splat gun, airsoft gun and a pellet gun, which are considered toys but can be easily mistaken for a deadly weapon.
Overall in 2022, LPD said they have seen a 41 percent increase in weapons offense classifications by officers at the time of the investigation.
Lincoln Municipal Code on Toy Guns
- 9.36.060 Toy Guns or Slingshots That Discharge Dangerous Missiles Not to be Carried: It shall be unlawful for any person to carry about his or her person any toy pistol, toy gun, or other toy arm or arms, or slingshot, out of or by which any leaden or other dangerous missiles may be discharged.
- 9.36.070 Minors Not to be Furnished With Toy Guns or Slingshots That Discharge Missiles: It shall be unlawful for any parent, guardian, or other person having the care and custody of any minor, to purchase for or give to any such minor or knowingly to permit any such minor to have any toy pistol, toy gun, or other toy arm or arms, or slingshot, out of which any leaden or other dangerous missiles may be discharged.
- 9.36.050 Discharge of Weapons and Other Instruments Unlawful: It shall be unlawful for any person, except as provided in this chapter, to fire or discharge, within the corporate limits, or on any property of the City of Lincoln outside of the corporate limits, any air rifle, toy pistol, toy gun, slingshot, or any other air, gas, or spring operated gun, weapon, apparatus, or instrument for the purpose of throwing or projecting missiles of any kind by any means whatsoever in such a manner as to endanger the safety of persons or property, whether the instrument is called by any name set forth above or by any other name.
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