Saturday, August 31, 2013
Carrollton outlaws fake guns in locations where real guns are banned
“We’re hoping that this ordinance will help us avoid a future tragedy,” said the Carrollton police chief.
CARROLLTON The Carrollton City Council has amended the city’s firearms ordinance to make it clear that the displaying of fake or facsimile firearms are illegal in any public place.
At a regular meeting on August 20, the council voted 6-0 to add wording to that was already in place that stated, “It shall be unlawful for any person to display or brandish a facsimile firearm in a public place.”
The amendment adds: “or any place a firearm is prohibited by state law within the corporate limits of the city.”
The council also passed an amendment stating, “It shall be unlawful for any person to possess a facsimile firearm in any place a firearm is prohibited by state law within the corporate limits of the city.”
Carrollton Police Chief Rex Redden said, “These changes were prompted when we were advised of students possessing facsimile firearms on school property. No one was threatened with them, but these fake guns are so realistic that if they were brandished it could cause panic and alarm within the school.”
He added, “With the emphasis on school safety due to past incidents all over the nation, we wanted to take every precaution and discourage students from merely possessing items that even look like a firearm. But this same situation could occur at any location where the perception that the possession of a facsimile firearm could cause alarm.”
The original ordinance was passed in 2003 when teenagers were observed playing with facsimile firearms in a park. This alarmed some neighbors, and the police responded.
Redden said the teenagers knew that they didn’t have real guns, but the public and the responding officers believed that they were real.
“We aren’t talking about neon green water guns either.” Redden said. “These guns are modeled after the real firearms. Many have the same action as the real thing and without close inspection you can hardly tell them apart.”
The facsimile guns come from the manufacturer with an orange tip on the barrel, but this tip is easily removed, cut off or covered up with black paint or marker. Once it is removed, it is very difficult to tell it apart from the real thing, especially during a quickly transpiring incident.
Redden emphasized, “The ordinance does not make it illegal for people to possess them at all, but only restricts their possession at any location where a real firearm is not allowed, such as government buildings and school property or buses, and it continues to prohibit someone from brandishing or displaying a facsimile firearm in a public place such as a park, store or roadway. The locations added are regulated by State law under the Texas Penal Code 46.03 Places Weapons Prohibited.”
“The whole intent of the ordinance is to avoid a confrontation between a young person who possesses a facsimile firearm and a licensed concealed handgun owner or law enforcement officer who doesn’t know that the firearm isn’t real,” Redden said. “We’re hoping that this ordinance will help us avoid a future tragedy.”
Carrollton Police Commander Doug Mitchell said anyone violating the ordinance will be issued a citation and can be fined anywhere between $1 and $500, depending on the decision made by the municipal court.
Mitchell said a police officer killed a man who had a toy gun in a restaurant in Denton a few years ago. Other tragedies or near tragedies have occurred in other cities because a toy gun was mistaken for a real gun.
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