Columbus Police face battle against BB guns

Police display an array of BB guns turned in by parents in Columbus.
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Police are warning of a growing danger of kids carrying guns.

The guns are not real. They're BB guns and air rifles that kids are using to shoot in neighborhoods and parks.

The problem is that they look real. So real, in fact, officers can't tell the difference.

Columbus Police showed Eyewitness News a stockpile of weapons turned in by a teen's father who told police to confiscate them.

"He said, 'My child has 10 or 12 of these and I just want you to take 'em all. Come in the house and get 'em all and destroy them'," explained Columbus Police Lt. Matt Myers.

Police say this wasn't because these are guns that can kill, but because they look like they could.

"You tell me which one's real and which one's not. This one is scary real and I bet you the majority of the people will say that's a real gun. That is real," Myers said.

They're BB guns and air soft guns that look and feel just like an officer's weapon, or even an automatic weapon.

Some teens have even painted the bright orange caps on the ends of the BB guns black - to make them look more like real weapons. Columbus Police say they're getting call after call of guns being used in public parks, near children's schools and at busy intersections, pointed at traffic.

Investigators call it a serious public safety issue, after more than 20 incidents in the past four months. Each case has involved a BB gun, not a real gun, and in some cases, they caused school lockdowns.

Investigators say the same 14-year-old who waved a BB gun at an elementary school recently, was pointing a BB gun at cars at a busy intersection just this week.

Mike Oren's 19-year-old stepson was with the teen. Mike's now gotten rid of his son's weapons. The other teen's father turned his in to police.

Oren told the boys it's too dangerous to use them in public places.

"He showed my the pistol that the 14-year-old had and it looked like a .45-caliber pistol," Oren said. "That could lead to a pretty serious event, like boys being shot by police or someone else because they think they're real guns."

That's the fear, since police are trained not to hesitate when confronted with a weapon.

"This escalates things so much so quickly that it's just.. It's just.. It's very, very dangerous," Myers said.

Now Columbus Police are pushing for a change in city code. They're working with the city council to create a new ordinance to make it illegal to fire BB guns within city limits.

They say that could cut down the danger from something that looks like a toy, but if used in the wrong place, and in the wrong way, could lead to tragedy.

They also hope parents talk with their teens about safely using BB guns.