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December 8, 2014

Paint, Conceal, Shoot: Individuals painting their guns to make them look like toys is terrifying

by Sam Ranard

The thought of children getting a parent’s gun is terrifying. Taking the right steps to keep guns safe and away from children should be a top priority for gun owners- but that is not always the case. Parents are not using locks or other safeguards to keep their guns away from children.

To make matters worse, individuals are now cloaking their assault rifles, pistols, you name it, with paint and plastics to look like a child’s toy or even a full on, out of the box, squirt gun. It is a recipe for horrific disasters.  Not to mention it leaves police in a predicament- to shoot or not to shoot?

Guns are being confiscated all over the country that, at first look, appear to be straight off the aisle from the toy section at Wal-Mart. But that, sadly, is not the case. The picture gallery below is a collection of a few of the many weapons out there that have been modified to no longer look “deadly” or like a usual black or silver firearm, but rather a child’s toy.

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Tamir Rice Case

Tamir-Rice_2166651w In a 911 call, a caller phoned the police to report that someone, possibly a juvenile, was pointing a pistol at random people in the Cudell Recreation Center, yet the caller twice clarified that the gun was “probably fake.”   Officers were dispatched without the information that the caller thought the gun might have been fake.  The officers arrived at the park and approached the child we now know as Tamir Rice, ordering him to hold up his hands.  Rice reached down instead of up, prompting one of the officers to immediately fire two shots, fatally hitting Rice once in the torso. The entire incident happened within mere seconds.

cleveland-shooting-112714The officers later found that the gun was an airsoft gun- like a bb or pellet gun.  Its orange safety tip was removed. Deputy Chief Tomba stated that Rice did not threaten or point the airsoft gun at the officers.

A surveillance video of the shooting was released by police on November 26 after pressure from the public and Rice’s family. It showed Rice pacing around the park, occasionally extending his right arm with what appears to be a gun in his hand, talking on a cellphone, and sitting at a picnic table in a gazebo. The video shows the officers’ patrol car pulling up next to the park. Rice then appears to move his right hand toward his waist, prompting one officer to get out of his car and shoot him from a distance of less than ten feet within two seconds.

These guns give insight to some of the real life “fake guns” that police face.  But should they shoot every child with a bb gun or who is just playing like America’s have been playing since its first days?

Children with guns

How many children died last year from accidental shootings within their own homes? No one seems to know. “We know how many times children die each year as a result of gun deaths,” Jon S. Vernick, co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, said, “We don’t know how many times children pull the trigger and someone dies.” However, if you break down the statistics, the number of accidental gun deaths by children can be estimated to some degree of accuracy.

According to the Washington Post, there were 32,351 gun deaths in 2011, citing to the CDC. We know how many gun deaths were declared accidental (591 in 2011, the CDC says). And we know that 102 people killed in these accidental gun deaths in 2011 were younger than 18, according to Vernick, with half of these children younger than age 13. Not only is this unnerving for the well being of the children of our society, but the implications that law enforcement must face with such weapon concealment is an entirely different set of circumstances. When would an officer know if a 16-year-old is running through his yard playing a game with his friend with a toy gun, or if he is running with a loaded deadly weapon? The hypothetical situations and tragic endings are infinite.

In other words, 102 children were killed by accidental gun deaths in 2011, and that number is on the rise. And I am sure it will continue to rise as the amount of gun ownership increases year after year. in 2012 over 270 million American’s owned guns. That equates to 867 out of every 1,000 Americans owning a gun.

Epidemic

We have a crisis.  It is a crisis caused by too many guns.  We have too many parents not parenting.  Some would add that we have too many officers knowing that deadly force is theirs to use without consequence.  We need to have a national conversation about the value of life- all life.

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