York Regional Police are warning the public that carrying replica air-rifles can lead to a sticky situation, and even arrest.
Although the guns are legal, they can often appear very real which can lead to an arrest as police often have to make split-second decisions.
“There have been a number of incidents were young kids are playing with [air guns] in the streets and we’ve received calls from neighbours,” Constable Andy Pattenden said at a news conference in Aurora Wednesday.
“These weapons are incredibly realistic, right down to the weight, and they’ll be treated as real, until we know otherwise.”
Giving an example, police told the story of how they were called to a Newmarket home after a witness reported seeing a person with some sort of rifle.
When police arrived they arrested a group of boys who were 14-and-15-years-old. After explaining that they were playing with a toy air rifle the boys were released without charges into the custody of their parents.
Police say they have seen other cases where teens would use AirSoft guns to shoot plastic pellets at each other. In this case, things can become more serious and charges can be pressed.
Const. Pattenden said that despite fake guns being legal, residents should be wary of where they use them, and how they transport and store them.
Police offered the following tips:
- When police respond to any call involving a weapon, the weapon will be treated as real until an investigation can determine otherwise.
- While an air gun is not classified as a firearm, if it is used in the commission of an offence it is then classified as a firearm and suspects may be charged with applicable offences under the Criminal Code.
- If you damage property, or injure a person or animal by discharging an air gun you could be subject to Criminal Code charges and civil liability.
- Prior to purchasing an air gun you must determine where you can safely use it.
- Check with your local by law office to determine if you are permitted to use an air gun in your area.
- Do not use an air gun on public land such as a park or other open area.
- If you are planning to use an air gun on private property other than your own, you must obtain permission from the land owner.