A 12-year-old African American boy was playing with a toy gun in a Cleveland park, when a concerned neighbor called the police. Officers responded to the call, found the boy waving the toy around, and told him to raise his hands. When the boy didn’t — the officers opened fire. There were so many elements at play here that arrived at this young boy being shot. One of them was the incredibly real look of the toy gun he was holding. Kids should not be able to get their hands on toys this real-looking.
Allegedly, the orange cap had been removed from the tip. The orange-cap is the only real marker the gun has to signify that it’s a replica or toy. From ABC News: “Officers learned the gun was fake after the shooting, police said. Made to resemble a semi-automatic pistol, the orange safety indicator had been removed from the ‘airsoft’ replica gun the boy was holding, police said.”
The witness who made the 911 call actually told the operator that the gun was being waved around by a juvenile and was probably not real. Audio from the dispatch said, “It’s probably fake. But it’s scaring … people.”
The boy made no verbal threats. He grabbed the gun from his waistband, probably to show the cops it wasn’t real. The kid is in a park and they’ve already been warned the gun probably isn’t real. If after all of this, they still were compelled to shoot, why shoot to kill? As The Root points out, this happened the same weekend we are waiting for a grand jury to weigh in on whether an officer will face charges for shooting and killing an unarmed black teen in Ferguson. It also happened the same weekend another black man was shot by a rookie officer in Brooklyn, and it was called an “unfortunate tragedy.”
A child is waving a toy gun around a park and ends up dead. That should be unfathomable – but it’s not. This is where we’ve come to as a country. We’re so used to stories of people going on shooting sprees, it’s actually believable that a kid would take to a park with a real gun. That is why I can’t understand why anyone would allow a child to have a toy that looked like this. Guns are not toys. Why are we allowing them to be?
The above photo is from Amazon.com. There’s an extensive list of real-looking replica guns on that site. You are allegedly supposed to be 18 to be able to purchase one, but we can’t even enforce laws for real guns in this country. I have no hope that there will be stricter controls on replica guns. Barring a movie or theatre prop, I see no reasonable excuse for these “replica” weapons to be sold.