SURREY — Don’t be an air gun dunce.
Police in Surrey are warning people that showing off air guns or sending out videos of themselves with these things can draw down a lot of unwanted heat, or even be dangerous.
Surrey RCMP Corporal Scotty Schumann said the detachment’s Youth Section has noticed a “recent trend of youth being irresponsible with pellet or BB guns.
“This has included incidents where the youth have circulated videos of themselves appearing to be armed, resulting in police attendance to ensure community safety,” Schumann noted. “Subsequent investigations determined that the weapons were in fact air guns. These air guns can be so realistic that police cannot tell if the weapon is a firearm without actually examining it close up. This is a safety concern for both police and the general public.”
Some incidents, he said, led to police dealing with students at local schools. “Most of these incidents have not involved criminal investigations, but rather interventions and discussions with students, parents, counsellors,” Schumann noted.
He said some cases resulted in referrals to the RCMP’s Youth Intervention Program. According to the Surrey RCMP website the YIP been working with roughly 300 “at-risk” children every year since the program started in 1995.
Rob Rai, director of Surrey Safe Schools, said more imitation guns have been seized this year than in past years and, “in many cases, though perhaps well-intentioned, parents have bought them as toys for their child.
“We are seeing more replica guns in our schools, even at the elementary level,” Rai said.
The Surrey School District’s policy prohibits replica or toy weapons on school property and “at any activity off school premises that is organized or sponsored by a school.”
While it is not a crime to posses an air gun, it is illegal to threaten people with them, wound, or damage property.
Schumann advises people who know of children “being irresponsible” with air guns to contact police.
“We would much rather educate and intervene early on than after an incident occurs,” he said.
“The Surrey RCMP reminds parents that air guns are not toys and should not be treated as such.”