Real guns vs. toy guns: too tough to tell?

RAPID CITY, S.D, (KOTA TV) - Toy guns may be fun. But when they look like the real deal it can cause danger, police said.

Presidential Pawn shop on St. Joseph Street in Rapid City shows the similarities and main difference between a real gun (top) and an air soft gun (bottom). (KOTA TV)

Between the design, shape and color of guns, toy guns can look similar to real firearms.

Though legally air soft guns require an orange tip to show distinction, Hot Springs Police said it is not enough for police to tell the difference in the line of duty.

"People have been known to spray paint or paint real guns with an orange cap so it does look like a non-real gun," Hot Springs Police Captain William Wainman said.

A year and a half ago, Wainman pulled over a young man during a routine traffic stop and ended up taking out a BB gun that he said looked too real.

He said officers struggle even more when it's night time and are forced to make split-decisions.

"Anytime that it could lead to law enforcement acting in a way no law enforcement officer wants to be put in that situation. It's going to be bad," Wainman said.

WillieJax Pawn and Consignment shop on South Chicago Street is helping the police department tackle the confusion. The owner of the shop, Jackie Stanley, decided to not sell any type of weapons that resembled too much like real firearms.

She said she understands the police's concerns about safety, especially being a mother of four children.

"They all like firearms as much as I do, as much as anybody else. I just don't. I wouldn't want to put them in a situation where it can be mistaken for something that could put them in danger, put other people in danger, put our law enforcement in danger," Stanley said.

Though Stanley does not mind manufacturers making guns that look real, Wainman wants to see them off the market completely.

He said he is not opposed to BB and pellet guns but wants people to act responsibly.

He advises toy gun owners to not leave toy guns in vehicles or in public places.