A report earlier this week of a teenager pointing a gun at passing vehicles was the last straw for a Columbus man, who asked police to confiscate and destroy his son’s large collection of BB guns.
The 14-year-old boy’s fascination for realistic-looking BB guns has caused incidents of panic, including a school lockdown, police said.
The Columbus Police Department hauled away and destroyed 11 low-velocity air guns, department spokesman Lt. Matt Myers said.
The department receives an average of at least one complaint a week from worried residents who have mistaken low-velocity air guns for high-velocity weapons, Myers said. The teen’s actions sparked such a complaint Monday.
Shortly after 7 p.m., a driver reported a juvenile was pointing a gun at passing vehicles near Jolinda Drive and Autumn Court, Myers said.
When the teen saw officers arrive, he immediately dropped what appeared to be a high-velocity revolver from his hand, Myers said. He was accompanied by a 19-year-old man holding a box containing what appeared to be a fully automatic assault rifle, Myers said. In reality, both weapons were BB guns.
It was the boy’s denial of responsibility, indifferent attitude and involvement in similar incidents investigated by police that eventually resulted in the loss of his entire weapons collection, Myers said.
“We told him that if he had pointed the BB gun and threatened a legally armed driver with a real (high-velocity) weapon, there could have been tragic results,” Myers said. “He didn’t care. He said that while he had been stopped before by police (for similar complaints), he thought it was just not that big a deal.”
After the officers escorted the teen to his home behind the Lincoln Village Apartments and explained the incident to his parents, the father’s reaction was in stark contrast to his son’s, Myers said. The father told officers he was fed up with the number of times his son has made threatening actions with realistic-looking air guns.
Last year, the boy brought what looked like a high-powered rifle to his elementary school, prompting a lockdown as a security precaution, Myers said. A lockdown means all school doors are locked to prevent people from coming in or going out, and all students are prevented from exiting or entering a classroom.
Myers said that other adults and children caught with similar weapons in public earlier this year also felt they didn’t do anything wrong.
“They don’t understand that if you are pointing one of these toward another human being, people have a right to defend themselves,” Myers said. “Mistakes will happen with potentially fatal consequences for whoever is holding the air gun. It’s a dangerous situation.”