The Star-Ledger Continuous News Desk reported on Thursday, April 16, 2009, two New Jersey teenagers were arrested on charges of aggravated assault, unlawful possession of a weapon, and possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes after shooting a political campaign volunteer in the leg from an apartment window.
Wait a minute, was this man really shot? Was he taken to the hospital for his injuries? The answer is no, he was not injured at all, because the ‘weapon’ these teenagers used was an Airsoft-type toy gun that shoots soft plastic pellets. What happened to the days when 12-year-old kids were taught a healthy dose of respect for guns while learning fire arm safety with their Dad showing them how to shoot a .22 caliber rifle in a supervised environment? Are teenagers so different today that it is necessary to enact and enforce laws against toy guns as if they were real fire arms?
The problem that Airsoft guns create is much more complicated than the previous argument presented may suggest. It is true that Airsoft guns do not have the capability to inflict even as much injury as a teen throwing a rock, but Airsoft guns look like real guns. A teen using poor judgment could pull one out for chest pounding purposes during an altercation, and it could be mistaken for a real gun. It does not take much to envision this scenario ending in tragedy. First of all, the teen with the Airsoft gun may provoke another teen to pull out a real firearm. Also, what is a police officer supposed to do if someone reports teens chasing each other in public with what look like real fire arms? This can create a dangerous situation as was recently reported by the MI-Reporter.com.
Adequate parental supervision of teens with Airsoft guns would solve this problem outright. However we all know that teens tend to push the boundaries of parental supervision. Do there really need to be laws banning Airsoft guns, or does the law need to concern itself with public display of anything that replicates a fire arm?
Samantha Dunkin is a concerned parent of two boys who are avid airsoft players. When Samantha’s boys wanted their first airsoft guns she went into research mode. Now Sam is one of the leading advocates for airsoft safety among young people.
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