Mass. Police See Surge in Use of BB, Pellet Guns in Hold-Ups
By Jill Casey, The Daily Item of Lynn (Massachussets)
BB guns and replica firearms have begun to look so much like the more dangerous weapons on the market, that police are seeing an increase attempts to pass them off as deadly weapons in hold-up situations and on the street.
Over the past year, police have seen these weapons used during a domestic confrontation and in gang fights.
These guns look so real, they even run the risk of deceiving a police officer in certain situations, according to Lynn Police Lt. John Scannell.
This weapons trend has been a key factor contributing to a recent rise in crimes in the community over the past year, according to Scannell. Police have made several arrests for crimes involving individuals using these guns in public. The department has also confiscated 28 of them this year alone, ranging from BB guns to pellet pistols made to resemble real semi-automatics.
"They're using them like real guns, to hold up stores and threaten other people," said Scannell. "We don't want the general public out there being scared by these guns and we don't want kids getting in trouble for having them."
There have also been several cases over the past year where police have arrested juveniles for bringing BB guns to school in their backpacks. In most of the cases where an arrest was made, the individual was showing off the gun and word got back to a teacher or administrator about it.
"I think (kids) feel a certain prestige, like 'Hey I got a gun,'" said Scannell, who believes the likely reason why kids want to bring guns to school is because of their intrinsic desire to play "war games in the streets."
The threats these guns pose is also debatable, Scannell said. "As we saw in Boston, they can be fatal," he said, referring to the accidental shooting death by Boston Police of Red Sox fan Victoria Snelgrove.
Police have had one case this year, where a Lynn English High School fired a BB gun at a fellow student on school grounds. The student was not seriously injured, but the 16-year-old assailant was arrested and charged with carrying a dangerous weapon in school.
Scannell said police are in no way looking for manufacturers to take these replica weapons off the market. Police believe that half the problem can be solved inside the home, with better supervision by parents with their children.
Scannell also said BB gun owners should be more aware of the laws that surround the use of them in public.
Under state law, no person is permitted to fire a BB shot, pellet, or paint ball in public. The law also allows authorities to fine anyone under 18, who is caught using these types of guns without adult supervision or a hunting license. Fines run anywhere from $50 to $100.
"They're not supposed to be firing these guns in public," said Scannell. "Children just need to be better supervised."