Anti-violence groups and police are warning teens not to carry BB guns to protect themselves against violence.
Injury shootings caused by BB guns increased from 42 last year to 74 this year, according to statistics from the Dayton Police Department.
“Teens are getting BB guns because they feel threatened,” said Catherine Crosby, executive director of the Dayton Human Relations Council. “Unfortunately, this puts them at risk from being hurt by police and people who live in their neighborhoods.”
The problem with people carrying BB guns is that people can’t always distinguish it from a real firearm, said Dayton Police Lt. Wendy Stiver. The tips of the BB guns are supposed to be painted orange, but police have recovered weapons where the tip was painted black to make the pellet gun look real. Police said they have also found real guns that have been spray-painted orange so that they would not be seen as a threat.
In the past few months, the Dayton Regional Transit Authority has investigated several instances where pellet guns have been fired at RTA buses. The most recent was this month when the front window of an RTA bus was shattered on the night of Oct. 13, while traveling near the intersection of Salem and Philadelphia avenues.
Punishment could be as severe for someone using a BB gun to commit a crime as it could be for someone using a more powerful weapon, according to police.
“If a person leads someone to believe it is an actual firearm … It’s still an aggravated crime,” Stiver said.
Many of the teenagers are obtaining the BB guns without their parents’ knowledge, according to police. Community leaders are urging parents to discuss the risks that come with carrying items that can be perceived as real weapons before they become victims of gun violence.
“We want to protect young people in our communities as much as possible,” said Crosby. “Allowing them to carry a BB gun while we’re seeing an uptick in gun violence will only make things worse.”
Police advise residents to contact them if they feel threatened by someone who is carrying what they perceive to be a real firearm. They should never engage them, police said.
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