A group of North Vancouver lads are lucky to be getting off with a warning, after an RCMP officer saw them playing with pellet guns and drew his pistol on them.
The incident happened on the evening of Sept. 21 in McCartney Park when a concerned resident called 9-1-1 to report people in the park with firearms.
When the first officer on the scene saw two teens pointing very realistic guns at each other, he drew his own gun. As backup officers arrived and surrounded the park, three
more boys emerged from the woods and threw down their imitation firearms.
"Thankfully, in this case, the youth behaved appropriately when they saw the police. Certainly, the officer who first responded thought they were real guns," said Cpl. Doug Trousdell, North Vancouver RCMP spokesman.
Officers seized eight "airsoft" guns including rifles, a shotgun, and several pistols along with a collapsible baton, extra magazines, smoke bombs and thousands of pellets.
Airsoft guns made to look identical to the real thing exist in a legal grey area. If they are non-firing, they are considered replicas and are illegal. If they can fire with a muzzle velocity above a certain level, they are considered firearms and must be licensed and registered as such.
They are, however, not permitted under City and District of North Vancouver bylaws.
"These are legally purchased toys but it's all about context," Trousdell said.
The five boys, aged 14 and 15, will not be facing charges, though police are issuing a warning about airsoft guns.
"If somebody, in a moment of bad decision (making), points a replica firearm at a police officer, there's a very real possibility that somebody is going to get shot, That terrifies us, but that could happen," he said.
That warning should carry extra weight in the run-up to Halloween when kids and adults might be tempted to include toy guns in their costumes.
© Copyright 2013