ROCKFORD (WIFR) – Life on Rockford’s streets can be hard and it’s forcing some kids to feel the need to carry fake guns on them to feel safe. But fake or not, these guns can still land them in trouble or even dead.
In streets riddled by gangs and violence, it’s no surprise people would want to protect themselves, but Lieutenant Pat Hoey says some kids might be going about it the wrong way.
“It’s just dangerous for kids to be carrying these or anybody to be carrying them on the street. You’re just asking for trouble.
Rockford police say some teenagers are carrying Airsoft pistols similar to these in some of our city’s roughest neighborhoods and considering how realistic the guns look, officers say it’s just not too smart to do.
“There’s no way from a distance that a police officer is going to be able to discern a real gun from a fake gun,” said Lt. Pat Hoey with the Rockford Police.
“Just it’s bad that kids should feel like that,” said Kevin Mandell, an Airsoft gun enthusiast.
“No. Kids should not be walking around with a gun at all, it’s a threat plain and simple. They can end up getting shot, you see it on the news all the time, people getting shot cops not knowing , they’re doing what they think is their job. Same thing with the cops, they see anyone with a gun, it’s a gun. It looks real, they don’t know the difference,” said Tim Thompson, a former airsoft gun owner.
The Airsoft industry is growing in Rockford. Bryon Edmonds works at Rockford Tactical which just opened this year. He stresses safety and common sense when selling the weapons and hopes people who are misusing these replicas don’t ruin things for responsible owners.
“Anytime you go in public, case it. Treat it like a real firearm and declare it anytime you get pulled over,” said Edmonds.
Rockford Police say it is legal for anyone to carry an Airsoft gun in public but if you are stopped by the police, it’s best to follow directions and let them know you have it because they will treat it like a real gun which could lead to serious problems.
Police say they’ve taken in 56 Airsoft and BB guns already this year and have hundreds in evidence from over the years that were used in robberies and other crimes but they do run into kids who have them and pull in at least one of these guns a week.
Although many may think Airsoft guns are only legal if they have an orange tip, Airsoft gun owners can modify and own Airsoft guns that have more realistic non-colored barrels and they can have them in public. However, retailers have to sell them with the colored tips and they have to be shipped with the colored tips.