The Trace Sounds Alarm Over Cops Shooting People With "Toy" Guns

(AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

While The Trace focuses on gun-related issues, I don’t really expect most of the folks over there to actually know anything about guns. I mean, why would they? They’re expressly anti-gun activists who write anti-gun stories. Knowledge of actual firearms is completely superfluous to their mission.

Another thing they do a lot is sound pretty alarmist about things. Any sort of gun-related issue they can try and blow up into an issue is going to be a thing if they have their way about it.

Like, say, complaints of police shooting people with toy guns.

n the night of Saturday, October 16, police in Tarpon Springs, Florida, received a call about a man pointing an AK-style rifle at passing cars. Officers confronted the suspect at an intersection and fired 12 shots, killing him. The victim was soon found to be a boy, an 11th grader at the local high school. And the rifle he was carrying was in fact a toy airsoft gun.

The boy’s death follows a long line of incidents in which police have shot and killed people carrying toy weapons. According to The Washington Post’s police shooting database, at least 245 people have been killed by police while in possession of a toy gun since 2015.

The victims of shootings involving look-alike guns include 12-year-old Tamir Rice, 17-year-old Hannah Williams, and 13-year-old Andy Lopez.

So far this year there have been at least 26 such deaths.

As The Trace has reported, toy guns are regularly designed to mirror their real-life counterparts, often down to the precise detail. Gun manufacturers sometimes license their designs and brand names to toy companies to create fake weapons that are nearly indistinguishable from the real thing. Our reporting identified more than two dozen gun companies — including ColtBeretta, and Glock — that allow airsoft companies to use their brands and likeness to manufacture toy weapons.

It’s important to understand that classifying airsoft as “toys” is something of a misnomer. They’re not in so many ways. They’re not real guns, and they’re used to “play,” but they’re also not regulated by the rules that govern how actual toy guns should look.

And there’s a reason for that.

Airsoft weapons are often used in games called MilSim, which stands for military simulation. Basically, it’s a bunch of older teens and adults who go into the woods and play war, but they try to mimic what actual troops wear in a lot of ways. Because of this game, though, the guns need to be realistic.

Making them all bright orange isn’t exactly going to help.

But The Trace doesn’t care about this. On one hand, they seemingly want to blame the airsoft companies for these deaths, but they also seem to be blasting the police for not realizing these are “toys.”

Mostly, though, it’s about the guns themselves.

Frankly, The Trace needs to chill a little bit. After all, let’s look at their numbers for a moment. Since 2015, call it six years now, there have been 245 deaths of people who had airsoft guns. That’s about 41 such shootings per year.

In a nation of 330 million people.

Oh yeah, we’ve reached epidemic levels here, haven’t we, folks? Now, don’t get me wrong. For those who lose a loved one in such an incident, it’s absolutely awful and I can’t even imagine the pain they experienced. But that is still a tiny fraction of the people who will ever see such an incident.

And let’s be clear, most of these cases involve someone who refused to comply with police orders to drop the gun. While the officers weren’t really in any danger, they couldn’t know that so they acted accordingly. You can’t blame the replica gun for the person holding it refusing to drop the gun-shaped object when ordered to do so by the nervous police officer.

If they had, there likely wouldn’t have been any issue in many of these cases.

I’m sorry, but this is really just The Trace’s standard MO of blaming the tool and not the tool holding it.

Nov 29, 2021 4:30 PM ET