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BY JOSH PRESLEY
Local law enforcement officials are warning West Point and Clay County residents against the use and display of BB guns, pellet guns or toy guns that look like actual firearms.
West Point Police Chief Tim Brinkley said the West Point Police Department is encouraging parents not to buy these type of guns for their kids, and if the parent knows the child has one, to not let them leave the home with it.
â€śSeeing these kinds of realistic looking pellet guns or toy guns is common enough that itâ€™s disturbing,â€ť Brinkley said. â€śIf an officer sees someone with a gun that looks to be the real thing, often times they have to make a split-second decision in how to deal with it.â€ť
He said that while manufacturers add an orange tip to most guns that are meant to look realistic, many people paint over the tip or remove it. Even with the orange tip, it can be difficult to distinguish between a toy gun or pellet gun at night, according to Brinkley.
Clay County Sheriff Eddie Scott said people typically paint over the tip not to fool law enforcement, but to impress their friends or make people think theyâ€™re carrying a real gun.
â€śThese realistic-looking weapons have been a problem for years,â€ť Scott said. â€śOfficers train to identify if a possible offender has a weapon, and if so, what their intent is. Weâ€™ve been very fortunate that weâ€™ve never had an injury or death because of someone pulling a fake gun on an officer.â€ť
Brinkley said officers could legally use a level of force thatâ€™s one degree above the level of force with which they are threatened. If an offender pulls a knife, the officer can respond with a Taser or pepper spray, but if an offender pulls a gun, thereâ€™s nothing but lethal force, according to Brinkley.
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