Painted guns resembling toys pose threat to officers
By WILL PAFFORD, Alligator Writer
Hello Kitty stickers are part of the latest danger to police officers nationwide.
Automatic weapons painted pink and covered in Hello Kitty and flower stickers are an example of a growing threat - real guns painted to look like toys, according to a notice recently circulated among officers at the Gainesville Police Department.
The sole purpose of these guns is to fool the observer, said Lt. Rob Koehler of GPD’s Tactical Impact Unit.
"If you saw this, your initial impulse would be, ‘This is a toy,’" Koehler said.
Koehler said these types of guns are especially dangerous to police because they can prevent officers from taking appropriate action, such as using force or avoiding danger.
That moment when an officer first sees someone with a gun could mean everything in terms of how he or she responds, Koehler said.
"It gives the advantage to the carrier," he said. "That moment the person sees it could mean everything."
Although guns have been customized with camouflage print for quite some time, hot pink and neon green paint jobs are relatively new, according to the release.
These guns are not only a problem for officers, but for children as well.
In the past, officers have misjudged toy guns for real ones with tragic results, according to a news release from the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
The colorful guns are also more easily mistaken for toys by children, who may find their parents’ firearms, according to the release.
"Can you imagine a child finding a pastel blue or pink Glock, fully loaded?" the release stated.
Guns can be painted professionally or with at-home kits available on the Internet.
Although GPD officers have not encountered a painted gun locally, the weapons are a growing concern elsewhere in the country.
These "designer guns," as the notice calls them, have become such a problem that New York City lawmakers are working on passing legislation to ban guns colored to look like toys.