Danger In The Details
Police warn that realistic toy guns can be especially dangerous around Halloween.
Florida's Collier County Sheriff's Office is cautioning the public about the seriousness and potential consequences of airsoft guns, which can appear very real.
Deputies say the look-alike guns are used to play military-style games like paintball, but cheaper and less messy because the weapons fire plastic pellets instead of paint capsules that burst on impact.
Officials with the sheriff's office want the public to be aware of the dangers and consequences of showing those weapons in public.
"The realism is a lot better than when I was a kid. We had little plastic guns that were blue or yellow. Now they have actual weapon systems that look like real weapons," said George Welch.
Because they can look so real, they can create unnecessary encounters with law enforcement.
They can also scare other people who might be lawfully armed with a real gun and who may respond with deadly force, fearing that their life may be in danger.
Toy guns - airsoft guns included - are required under federal law to have a bright orange tip to distinguish them from real weapons.
The law was put in place to protect law enforcement personnel and teens from misunderstandings, injuries and deaths.
Still, some guns are sold without the orange tips and those unaware of the law would be none the wiser.
Deputies are asking people who own airsoft and similar toy guns not to alter them.
They say people should keep in mind that the orange tip does not necessarily protect you because some people do not know about airsoft guns and may assume that the are real guns.
The sheriff's office also encourages parents to tell kids to use airsoft guns away from the public eye where no one will mistake the guns for real guns or be hurt by an errant BB.
When using airsoft guns, make sure everyone within view understands what you are playing with and what you are doing.
And if a law enforcement officer approaches you while you are using airsoft guns, immediately set the gun down, then stand still and slowly put your empty hands up, eliminating perceived threat to the deputy.