The use of pellet, BB, airsoft, and toy guns that look like real firearms in criminal activities appears to be on the rise, says the Sacramento Bee. This month, two officer-involved shooting incidents in the Sacramento region involved such guns. Systematic data aren’t available and little research has been done on the subject.
“We see an increase of people carrying these guns to commit a crime or scare someone,” said Sacramento Police spokesman Sgt. Norm Leong. “People use it for crime because you can’t differentiate whether it’s real or fake,” said Garen Wintemute, an emergency medicine physician and director of the Violence Prevention Research Program at UC Davis Medical Center. He wrote a 1987 study that helped push for regulations to distinguish real guns from toys. Police say criminals use fake guns because they are cheaper and far easier to obtain. To make a replica gun look even more real, criminals remove the orange tip or color it black. If the toy gun is translucent or in bright colors, they spray-paint it black.