Calls to ban imitation guns

2018-10-02 06:01

The Grassy Park police and Community Policing Forum (CPF) have called for imitation (toy) guns to be banished from retailers for good.

Acting Grassy Park station commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Christiaan Esau, says people mention the use of a gun in most robberies and car hijackings, but the police don’t know how many of those guns were actually authentic.

“The imitation guns now feel like a real gun, the only difference is the barrel. A normal person won’t be able to tell the difference and see both (authentic and imitation) as a gun,” Esau says.

He adds that his station plans to conduct more awareness programmes.

“We are planning one now for next month’s imbizo in Parkwood. Most of our crimes are in the Parkwood, Lotus River and New Horizon area. There are two areas that contribute most of our crimes (and) there are six new developments identified just for the Grassy Park area now,” says Esau.

Meanwhile, CPF spokesperson Philip Bam says that introducing children to toy guns normalises violence.

“Our concern is that we say to our children that they must not play with fire because it is dangerous, but we allow them to play with these guns which makes them comfortable with the gun and imitating gangsters. Before you know, as they grow up, they want to handle the real thing and it is easy then for the gang bosses to recruit them,” Bam says.

Bam says that outside of that, the dangers of possessing a toy gun, particularly a pellet gun, are clear and apparent.

“It shoots pellets and if they shoot it in someone’s eye then that person is blind for life. The other danger is that somebody might defend themselves because it looks like a real gun and then retaliate with a real gun themselves and end up killing the person,” Bam says.

Numerous people around the world have been killed for brandishing imitation firearms. A study conducted by a British newspaper tallied 28 people killed by police in America for brandishing imitation guns in 2015.

“They (Americans) are allowed to have guns, whereas here it is illegal to have an imitation gun, but yet it is allowed to be sold at shops. What we are going to do is that we are going to engage the Department of Trade and Industry and Chamber of Commerce and we are going to ask these people to be responsible corporate citizens. Think of the future, consider the gang problem and the gun problem we have. They must take the initiative and be responsible and remove those things. I don’t even think that it is worth the little profit they make for the lives that get lost,” says Bam.

He says that parents need to consider the potential impact it will have on their child’s future. “If we weren’t that violent then it may not affect anybody, but we live in a violent society where shooting takes place every day in some of these townships and people are killed, but now we are making these youngsters used to having a gun. That is why we have 12-year-olds running around with real guns and they don’t know any better because they want to try the real thing,” he says.

Bam adds that it should not be a question of depriving children of fun, because it should never be fun to think about shooting another person to begin with.

“Some parents think that it is cool until their child gets shot for having or playing around with these imitation guns. That is why we say we must do away with this. It is not something that changes lives for the better. It is something that makes our situation worse.”

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