Why BB guns are not required to have orange tips

Walmart gun shelf. (WDTN Photo/Josh Ames)
Walmart gun shelf. (WDTN Photo/Josh Ames)

CENTERVILLE, Ohio (WDTN) – We had viewers asking why there was no orange tip on the BB gun John Crawford picked up from one of the shelves.

2 NEWS Investigates found BB and Pellet guns like the one Crawford was carrying are not required to. The reason? It’s not considered a toy.

Federal law requires toy or imitation guns like these to have an orange tip to let people know they’re fake and that they don’t fire explosive material but 2 NEWS Investigates found the law specifically exempts BB and Pellet guns such as the one John Crawford picked up inside Walmart.

He walked around the store with it while on his cell phone and was eventually shot and killed by police after someone called 911 on him. Everyone assuming it was a real rifle.

According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, BB guns are not fire arms…and the consumer product safety commission says they’re not toys.

So what are they?

2 NEWS Investigates found they basically they fall somewhere in the middle.

Centerville gun shop owner John Thyne says they should be considered weapons.

“They can cause bodily harm. They can actually kill someone it its hit in the right location,” said Thyne.

He says there are not a lot of laws when it comes to BB and pellet guns although many cities have codes that don’t allow them to be shot off in town.

Natalie: Do you think there should be stricter rules?

“Yeah I really do. I’m obviously pro second amendment and all the stuff for personal rights but I think that gun is a weapon and there are BB guns today or pellet guns that are, in some cases, more powerful than .22s,” said Thyne.

Because of that, he recommends a minor change to the sale of BB guns. One that he says could have changed the outcome in the Walmart shooting.

“I’m not sure it needs to be regulated under the federal system but it certainly needs to be sold behind the counter so the fact that gun was out was a little surprising to me,” said Thyne.

The Beavercreek Walmart has since done that. Pulling their BB and Pellet guns from the shelves and putting them behind the counter at this one store.

Thyne said it comes down to people treating these guns as if they are real firearms.

We found that’s exactly what the owner’s manual to the gun Crawford picked up warned.

It says: “Warning: “do not brandish or display this air rifle in public– it may confuse people and may be a crime. Police and others may think it’s a firearm.”

Thyne said a lot of these BB guns and even fake guns are made to look like the real thing because they sell better. He said that’s why it’s so important to be aware of what you are doing when you’re holding them. He said it’s common for people to not know the difference between them.

 

 

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