Detroit woman killed by police had airsoft gun

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Earlier today, I wrote a piece for our VIP members about how NY Attorney General Letitia James wants to jump all over airsoft guns. She argues that people use such weapons for crimes and that police can’t tell them from real guns.

I don’t argue either of those points, I simply argue that if people do that, they kind of deserve what happens afterward. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

That’s what apparently happened with one Detroit woman recently.

olice have determined that a woman who was shot and killed by Detroit officers this weekend for pointing and waving a gun at gas station customers and employees was armed with an airsoft pistol, according to the chief.

The incident began at 5:57 p.m. Sunday (Dec. 19) at the Sunoco gas station at the intersection of Hayes Street and 7 Mile Road on Detroit’s east side, according to authorities.

Officials said they received several 911 calls about Nakita Williams, 33, of Detroit, waving a gun at customers and employees at the entrance of the gas station store. Four Detroit police officers responded to the scene.

Detroit police Chief James White provided a timeline of events during a Monday afternoon briefing.

“At 5:59, Ms. Williams is inside the store, and at this point she cuts in front of those three customers that you see there (picture below) and produces the gun,” White said. “At 6:06, Ms. Williams has the gun in her hand at the entrance of the store.”

“The investigation also has revealed that Ms. Williams was armed, at this point, with an airsoft weapon,” White said. “Once the officers engaged Ms. Williams and shots were fired by the officers, they kicked the gun away, conveyed her in the vehicle, and when they kicked the gun away, you see that the back of the weapon open up, and you see what appears to be a CO2 charge inside of the weapon, which is indicative of an airsoft pistol.

This behavior apparently continued until the police arrived. She refused to put the weapon down and was shot.

Now, it’s entirely possible that Williams was having a mental health episode, though that’s not mentioned in the above-linked story. None of that really matters, though, because there were zero reasons to believe it was basically a toy gun.

Of course, this kind of thing leads many to believe we need better regulations on toy firearms, but it really doesn’t.

First, this kind of thing is rare. There are probably millions of airsoft guns in circulation and not even one percent ever get used in such a manner.

Second, making these changes would make airsoft weapons useless for at least some of their intended purposes. They’re used heavily for simulation exercises, after all, but if they all became Day-Glo orange, they become useless for that. While safety regulations may be fine and good, once those regulations render an object unusable for the purpose many obtain them for, that’s the death of an entire product.

And for what? Because a handful of people misuse them?

9/11 happened because people misused boxcutters. We didn’t start trying to regulate them out of existence, now did we? As such, while this case is a tragedy, it’s not indicative of a larger problem with these kinds of guns.

Instead, it’s more suggestive that perhaps our mental health system needs overhauling instead.