Real or fake? Police officers encourage parents to be mindful of realistic-looking air guns as holiday gifts

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ARAB, Ala. -- Law enforcement officers are encouraging parents to be mindful of buying toy guns for their children this holiday season.  They say to take note of how realistic-looking air guns can be, and how in a split second, that determination can be difficult for a police officer.

Courtesy: Gainesville Police Department

Courtesy: Gainesville Police Department

Look at the picture to the left. Which one is real? If you have a few moments you can probably figure it out, but the similarities are striking. "They do. They look very real. A lot of them have similar markings like the actual gun that they're modeled after have," said Arab Police Assistant Chief Shane Washburn. "With the Airsoft and the air-pistol type style, the BB gun, those styles, they don't have the orange tips on them. They look just like a real handgun."

That's something officers want parents to keep in mind if they're planning on those gifts this holiday.

"I would dare say it is impossible at a split second to make a difference between what is a real gun and what's a fake gun when they look so similar," Washburn said. A split second is usually all officers have when they are put in a situation where they need to make that determination.

Courtesy: Gainesville Police Department

Courtesy: Gainesville Police Department

Washburn said officers see these realistic-looking air pistols often on teens and adults. "There are alternatives you can do as far as BB guns. You don't have to get the ones that are essentially replicas of a real firearm. You can get BB guns that are clearly a BB gun," Washburn explained.

That's something law enforcement officials encourage parents to think about if giving one of those as a gift is the plan this holiday. "I would encourage them not to have one that looks real, because it could be mistaken for an actual firearm," Washburn said.

ANSWER: Real or fake? In the picture of the two guns, the gun on the viewer's right is fake.

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