INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — With the holiday shopping season in full swing, local police departments are warning Hoosiers about a popular and dangerous holiday gift: Airsoft guns.
As of Tuesday afternoon, police departments like Southport and Cumberland had shared a Facebook post showing the similarity in looks between an Airsoft gun vs. the real weapons they’re made to imitate.
Southport police chief Tom Vaughn says his department felt it was important to share due to the fact his officers have had numerous encounters with people using the weapons.
“I can think of two last summer that we had here in Southport where a neighbor called in said, 'Hey, this kid has a gun in the backyard or by the railroad tracks.' And when the officer is dispatched, it comes in as a kid or a young adult with a gun,” he said
While the situations were resolved peacefully, Vaughn pointed out how they could lead to misunderstandings or escalate to a dangerous level.
“If I say, 'Drop the gun,' what’s the first thing you’re going to do? You’re going to turn towards me and say, 'It’s a toy,' but at that split second that officer might pull that trigger. And that’s what we’re afraid of,” he said.
A Washington Post database calculates so far this year that police have shot and killed 29 people during incidents involving toy guns.
Vaughn says the message is to think before you buy.
“Just be careful. It’s a loaded gun," he said. "Treat it like a loaded gun, teach your kids that, teach them safety and teach the right way to shoot it."