Police are warning of the dangers of brandishing replica firearms in public after two realistic looking BB guns were seized at a house in Penryn.
As the 15th anniversary of the death of Antony Kitts approaches, people are reminded of the potentially fatal consequences of carrying weapons, even if they are not real. Mr Kitts, 20, was shot and killed by a police marksman after pointing what was later found to be an air rifle at officers in the early hours of April 10, 1999.
Officers at Falmouth are desperate to avoid a repeat of this tragic situation and following the seizure of the BB guns, have reiterated the rules around their possession and the risks run by anyone seen with them.
PCSO John Dukes said: “If you carry a BB gun in a public place, you are potentially risking your life. If someone else sees it and calls the police, even trained officers will have great difficulty distinguishing these guns from actual firearms and will have to act as if they are real.
“A BB gun is a gun which fires ball bearings or plastic pellets and is powered by gas. They are not toys, they are very dangerous and potentially can seriously injure or even kill somebody.
“You have to remember that a BB gun is also considered to be an imitation firearm and it is illegal to carry an imitation firearm in a public place. No gun should be carried in a public place unless it is in transit and even then it should be unloaded and placed in a bag. Guns must also not be concealed on the person, such as tucked down your belt.”
By law, you have to be over 18 and be a member of an airsoft club to buy and possess a realistic BB gun.
If you are not a member of a club, you can purchase one but only if they are manufactured in an obscure colour, such as a pink, yellow or blue, but you still have to be over 18. They can only be used on private land and it is an offence if a pellet/ball bearing leaves the boundaries of that land, meaning they cannot be fired across a fence and into a neighbour’s property. Anyone ignoring this can face a fine of up to £1,000.
There are more serious penalties should someone be hurt, with the person responsible possibly facing charges of common assault, actual bodily harm or even grievous bodily harm, which would result in a prison sentence.
Keen to rid the streets of all replica guns, PCSO Dukes said: “You should never take a gun into town. In fact, the message to anyone owning a BB gun is that the safest thing to do is to hand it into your nearest police station.”
Pic of PCSO Ellie Grey with the two BB guns seized from a property in Penryn.