Central Texas police seeing increase in imitation weapons in crimes

Posted at 2:41 PM, May 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-23 20:08:00-04

Waco police said they have seen an increase in imitation weapons, like BB guns, being used in crimes.

It's a trend many law enforcement agencies across Texas have seen in the last several years.

Waco Police Spokesperson Sgt. Patrick Swanton said just last week police found a BB gun on a man arrested for a robbery at a convenience store.

In the state of Texas, in order to purchase a fire arm you have to go through a background check. However, with toy weapons, like BB guns, a background check isn't needed.

"Just about anyone can go buy a BB gun and there's airsoft also," said Johnny Price, owner of Big Iron Handgun License Training. "It's great to learn on, but people are abusing them like anything else."

If a victim of a crime believes a gun pointed at them is real, that's enough grounds to warrant a first degree felony charge. 

Police said just because it's a toy, that doesn't change the punishment.

"There's absolutely no different if you [commit a crime] with a BB gun or with a real live fire arm. The charge is just the same," said Swanton.

Police said it's oftentimes hard to tell the different between what's real and what's a toy. 

"They are making replica guns now that either shoot little plastic pellets, shoot BB's or CO-2 powered look exactly like the gun I'm carrying on my side arm, as my side arm to protect our citizens," said Swanton.

Price said manufacturers want to make the toys look as real as possible for the customers. 

Swanton and Price both said it's important for parents to educate their children about safety with toy weapons.

"[Toy weapons] should always be treated, always, as a real fire arm. Yes, it's a toy, but it's a toy that's capable of blinding or worse," said Price.

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