Thursday, February 28, 2019
It looks funny, but it could get people killed
A few weeks ago I wrote about a criminal who was caught in the act of painting a shotgun to look like a toy, presumably to deceive police and/or his prospective victims. Now, courtesy of Wirecutter, we find this, presumably AR-15-type rifle, disguised even more effectively.
That's spendidly camouflaged . . . dangerously so. We can laugh at it as an over-the-top "boys and their toys" sort of display, but imagine you're a cop on patrol, and you encounter someone carrying that in the street. Your instinctive reaction would be to laugh out loud, and perhaps call to them - but what if they suddenly fired on you with it? Your reaction times would be slower than normal, and you could end up dead or seriously injured.
Then, think of the consequences of that happening even once. The very next time any cop sees any kid carrying an ornately decorated toy gun, he's going to assume - he'll have to assume, for his own safety - that the gun is real, not fake. He's very likely to draw his own gun and train it on the "suspect" while he yells at them to drop it. What if they panic (as children have been known to do)? What if they don't drop it, but clutch it more tightly to themselves? What if they try to run away, still clutching it? What if the cop reads that action as a potential threat, and pulls his gun's trigger?
You'll have a wounded or dead child, and he'll be facing mass condemnation by the community for his "over-the-top", "over-aggressive" response. In the light of the first shooting, it won't be "over-the-top" at all, from his perspective . . . but he and his agency will never win the public relations battle on that score.
I don't know what the answer to this mess might be. Laws wont help - criminals don't obey laws in the first place, so they'll ignore them. Appeals to kids' common sense won't help, either, because young kids generally don't have much common sense, and their parents often have even less!
An imitation toy like that shown above is a truly frightening thing. It can lead to all sorts of unintended consequences - and tragedies.