There's a Good Reason Cops Don't Screw Around With Pellet Guns

AP Photo/Mark Duncan, File

From time to time, someone will get shot by police or a private citizen, only for us to later learn what they had was something like a pellet gun.

About .03 nanoseconds after that's learned, someone will start to rail about how the police or private citizen should have magically known it was a pellet gun and not pulled the trigger. This is usually by someone with an ax to grind anyway, of course, but we've all heard it more than once.


The truth is that when it's pointing at you, the time you take to determine whether it's a real firearm or not is time you really don't have if it's not a pellet gun.

Yet there's another factor people are typically unaware of. That pellet guns can still kill. In fact, it just happened earlier this week.

Deputies arrested a woman Wednesday who allegedly shot and killed her boyfriend with a pellet gun in Graham.

The Pierce County Sheriff's Department (PCSD) said deputies responded to the shooting at 6:35 p.m. at a home off 252nd Street East and 52nd Avenue East. Deputies arrived and found a 51-year-old man dead outside, according to the PCSD.

Deputies were told the 49-year-old girlfriend of the victim had shot him with a pellet gun, the PCSD said. She was arrested and booked into Pierce County jail for second-degree murder, the PCSD added.

Officials said a search of the home revealed the pellet gun "and other evidence."

Officials also noted that while most people think of pellet guns as glorified toys, they're not. Sgt. Darren Moss of the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department told KOMO News, "We were able to retrieve a pellet rifle and some pellet ammunition that’s .177 caliber. It’s very tiny, but it has a point at the end of it. It’s not a round BB. They travel at a much higher velocity than your standard BB gun or an airsoft gun would shoot, and that’s the reason why they can be fatal."

Now, are they automatically fatal? No, but neither is any other round, if we're being honest. You can shoot someone with a .50 BMG and they could survive. They won't like it, but they could survive the experience and live to a ripe old age.


It's important to remember that pellet guns are used for hunting small game. That means they're extremely fatal to things like squirrels and rabbits, but that's also what a lot of people use a .22 for. 

If it can kill small game often enough to be justified for hunting, that means it's got enough punch to take down a larger target from time to time.

Like, say, a person.

That also means when an armed good guy shoots someone with a pellet gun, this wasn't someone holding a stick. This is someone who was pointing a weapon at them capable of taking human life. The good guy in question is responding to a threat, and as it turns out, a valid one.

Remember that the next time some activist is on your television or computer screaming about how a killing was unjustified because it was "only" a pellet gun.

Those things can and have killed. They will kill in the future.

Neither cops nor anyone else should screw around based on the possibility it's "just" a pellet gun.

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