Toy guns and real cops
They're not a good mix, but last week, a teenager in Troy was
The situation came out this week, as a Troy police officer fired a
shot from his firearm at a 17-year-old who had been holding a very
real-looking toy gun, an Airsoft gun. The teen had been playing with
a group of other children and teenagers.
Some have questioned the officer for firing the shot, but I don't see
how he could have done anything else.
He was responding to a 9-1-1 call from a motorist, who had reported
seeing someone pointing a gun at a child.
A police officer cannot go to a scene, automatically suspicious of
the called in report.
So he arrives at the scene quickly and sees a teenager pointing a gun
at someone. He yells to drop the gun and the teen turns (saying later
that he thought the officer was one of the participants) and the gun
is in the direction of the officer. He shoots.
Luckily, he misses.
However, missing may be the only thing the officer did wrong. If he
thought that was a real gun and the holder of the gun refused to drop
it and instead turned, the officer had to fire. And police officers
don't shoot in the air as a warning or aim for legs or arms. They
shoot to kill when they perceive danger to the public or themselves.
That is the way it has to be, or we would have even more dead or
Now, I'm not saying the citizen's report was at fault. He or she
thought it was a gun pointed at a child, and if you see that, you
must call the police and report it.
If the caller had reported that some kids were horsing around and
making too much noise or getting into the road while playing with toy
guns, the officer would not have arrived and pulled his gun.
But when the goal of play is to use realistic looking guns, people
not involved are going to assume they're real.
I'm not one to think that toy guns should be outlawed, it's just that
common sense would make bright-colored guns more acceptable. A little
red tip just isn't going to cut it.
It's too easy for people to blame the officer, but I remember the
Hazel Park officer who was responding to a simple nuisance dog
complaint made by a neighbor. She was looking out for a dog when a
drunken homeowner blasted a shotgun from the porch, killing her.
This recent incident was almost a perfect storm for a disaster.
Perhaps, the officer missed due to a subconscious last-second doubt
about the situation.
The teen is lucky and really has nothing to complain about.
PHOTOS: The top photo compares real guns with the Airsoft guns recovered from the teenagers. The bottom one is the complete haul from the teens. See, some of them had colored guns.