OP ED: The Importance of Awareness
On November 22nd, 2014 a twelve year old boy named Tamir Rice was shot and killed by two police officers on duty who were responding to a call about “a male black sitting on a swing and pointing a gun at people”.
Video shows that as the officers pulled up to speak to Rice, the boy reached toward the gun in his waistband and within two seconds of arriving on the scene one officer fired two shots hitting Rice in the torso. It was later found that the weapon in the young boy's waistband was an airsoft pistol that had the orange safety tip taken off. It is this event and events like this one that shows the necessity of being aware.
There has been an outcry for legislation to regulate the sale of airsoft guns because these “firearm replicas” so closely resemble the real thing. However there is a debate among the public about whether such strict regulations are necessary or will even solve the issue. New bills have recently been passed regulating such sales of firearm replicas including requiring each airsoft gun to have an orange tip, a fluorescent band visible on several places of the gun, and for the main color of the gun to be a bright, fluorescent color.
In truth it is the responsibility of both the airsoft gun owner and law enforcement to be aware of the risks and to be taught the safety measures necessary to ensure everyone's safety. It is clear in this video that because the airsoft pistol was concealed in the young boy's clothing there was no way for the police officers to see that it was a gun at all, let alone a fake gun. Even the concerned citizen who made the call to dispatch said that the gun that Rice was brandishing was “probably fake” twice during the call. Tamir Rice is far from the first victim of misunderstanding and officers must be better trained to keep from prematurely firing their weapons at the innocent public. In the same respect it is also airsoft gun owner's responsibility to know how to use their guns properly and the parent's responsibility to teach their children to use their replicas responsibly.
Many airsoft enthusiasts will tell you that gun safety and awareness are a big part of the airsoft community. Carrying the replica in a bag while in public, no sales to minors under 18, keeping your gun on safety while not in use, wearing safety gear and eye protection during games, keeping your firearm unloaded off the field, and general gun safety rules are practiced and passed on to new players in order to keep a safe environment for all. It is the realistic nature and feel of the operations and gaming events that appeal to people of all ages. Parents who purchase an airsoft gun for their children should also be made aware of these simple rules so that they can pass them on and teach the young enthusiasts the responsibly of owning any gun.
Volunteer, Content Contributor
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