Law enforcement officials addressed the Columbus City Council on Tuesday night asking for clarification of the city’s firearms ordinance. The law is clear when it comes to traditional guns, but a new type of air gun that is popular with youths may warrant updated regulation.
Police Chief Jason Maddix presented the council with an array of confiscated air guns that do not look anything like your dad’s Red Ryder.
Painted matte black, composed of heavy plastic and metal parts and even emblazoned with realistic looking serial numbers – these toys are manufactured to resemble the real deal. They are so convincing that they have fooled Columbus citizens and police on more than one occasion.
Maddix says his department has responded to several recent calls about children brandishing weapons in public. The responding officer then has the difficult task of distinguishing a BB gun from a Beretta – often in a matter of seconds.
“It’s creating a serious public safety issue in our city,” Maddix says. “We’re responding to numerous calls of these. And it’s just a tragedy waiting to happen and we’d like to prevent that tragedy before it occurs.”
Airguns are not regulated by Columbus’s firearms ordinance, nor are they considered weapons.
Council member and city attorney Jeff Logston says the ordinance needs to be amended to impose age limits and prohibit the displaying, brandishing and discharging of airguns in public.
“The risk of kids walking around, even having these in their waist band or even in a holster, if they’re a minor it’s causing concern, it’s causing alarm and it’s drawing a police response,” Logston said.
He cited ordinances in the Greenwood, Fishers and Carmel communities that regulate the discharge of air guns as a model for what he hopes Columbus can adopt. Logston says he will propose an amendment for its first reading at the next council meeting on June 4.