Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Charles is asking families and more topically, charities, not to give youngsters realistic-looking toy guns and BB guns this Christmas.
His call comes in support of an appeal by the Gun Control Network amid concerns that some children in the Midlands have already received toy and BB guns – which fire plastic or aluminium balls – as gifts from Santa.
“While most toy guns are, in effect, harmless, BB guns can cause considerable damage if fired irresponsibly,” he said. “But whether potentially dangerous or not, there’s a strong argument that giving toy and BB guns to youngsters can lead to future gun crime, antisocial behaviour and animal cruelty. For me, that’s a very important message that should be listened to.
“It is easily credible that in certain circumstances the police may be called out to a perceived ‘gun’ incident which is nothing more than a child playing with the latest toy. That is a serious waste of money and resources for everyone.”
He went on: “We all know that children like to play exciting games, and that’s fine as long as neither they nor the public are being put at risk. There’s a huge difference between a child brandishing a brightly-coloured plastic water pistol and a young teenager pointing a toy gun that looks so like a weapon that it could spark off a police firearms incident.
“In my book, it’s really down to commonsense, especially where children are concerned. It’s better to be safe than sorry.“
Mr Charles is particularly concerned about the potential hazards of BB guns. “These guns are capable of causing pain and injury and should not be thought of as toys,” he said.
The Commissioner is also disturbed at the harm caused by them being fired at animals and birds. He has already pledged in his election manifesto to tackle wildlife crime and cruelty to animals and help prevent wanton harm.
“BB guns are not normally very powerful but are known for random animal cruelty incidents, causing great distress to wildlife and also to pets and their owners,” he pointed out.
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Posted on Friday 7th December 2012