Kids and Guns: A Closer Look

JONESBORO (KAIT)-"These guns, they actually look more like toys than they do real guns."

Dennis Noell owns and operates D-N-W Outdoors and says in recent years the distinction between toy guns and real ones is going by the wayside.

And it's that very issue that is haunting police officers across the country.

"You can look at these guns here, and this one for instance. It's a functional B-B gun that looks just like a Walther 9 millimeter. Put yourself in an officer's position. He has a split second to decide whether this is real or not," said DARE Officer Kevin Foust of the Jonesboro Police Department.

For that reason cities like West Memphis are trying to ban toy guns from being displayed in public locations.

This comes after a 12-year-old boy was shot and killed by an officer last summer.

But for parents like John Payne who recently bought his son a firearm, he says the distinction between real and what's not has to be made early.

"If you are going to have guns around your kids, play or real guns, then you need to explain to them right then and there that once you pull the trigger on a real gun it's over," said Payne.

Both police and those who sell guns say the problem lies with the toy guns. While they do have an orange tip on the end that is supposed to signify that they are not real, they also look a lot like the real guns, and have some of the same features.

"It's going to be hard to distinguish if this is a paintball gun or if this is a 9 millimeter," said Foust as he looked at paintball gun.

And making things more difficult is an array of new colors.

Pink has become hot in the last two years, making it even more complicated to tell what's a toy and what's not.

In fact there are dozens of new guns being manufactured in all colors.

But those like Noell agree, no matter the color, the key is education.

"If you are going to buy your kids toy guns, you as a parent need to be responsible for teaching them safety of a toy gun - who not to point it at. A policeman would be someone not to point it at," Noell.

And it only takes one mistake to turn a situation to tragedy.

"You want to automatically think that it's a toy gun, but now we can't do that," said Foust.

**And we want your input on the Kids and Guns issue.  If you have a comment or opinion on the situation and wouldn't mind it being aired, email us at and please include your name, where you are from, and a phone number we might could reach you at if you'd be interested in an on air interview.

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