The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, Malibu/Lost Hills Station, is
expressing concern with recent incidents involving "air soft" firearms.
In most cases, the firearms are identical in appearance to genuine assault
rifles and pistols. The only distinction is a small orange marking
at the top of the barrel. Due to the realistic appearance of these
firearms, local residents have telephoned Malibu/Lost Hills Station to
report "man with gun" types of calls.
Deputies are concerned because of the difficulty distinguishing replica
guns form authentic firearms. When handling these "high priority"
calls, deputies are oftentimes required to make a split-second decisions
whether or not the firearm is authentic and, consequently, represents a
threat to the public. There are reported cases in other communities
of individuals having been shot due to a police officer's inability to
distinguish replica guns from real guns.
Deputies are also concerned local citizens may take independent action
against a person carrying these replica firearms in the belief they are
defending themselves or their property from an armed assault.
In some cases, the orange designator at the top of the gun barrel is
removed by teenagers so as to make the replica gun appear authentic.
Deputies are informing parents and teenagers about their concern over the
possession and display of these firearms. Parents are encouraged to
closely supervise their children when using these firearms. Parents
are also encouraged to check their children's belongings as in some cases
parents were not even aware their children owned these type of weapons.