A near pants-soiling situation for local law enforcement took place on the highways of Southern California earlier this week when a motorist spied what turned out to be a toy M16 in a passing minivan. Seven – yes, seven – police and sheriff’s department units soon took up the chase. One can only assume the local SWAT unit was already engaged on another call…

From the latimes.com blog:

When authorities caught up to the vehicle in a park-and-ride in Chino Hills, they saw two boys in child safety seats. On the lap of one of the boys was the plastic green-camouflage rifle, its orange tip flagging it as a replica.

But simply chalking the situation up to a call by an overly-sensitive onlooker in another vehicle wasn’t in the cards. No, the local yokels had to make sure the innocent kids and their parents knew they were the real problem.

With no real weapon to worry about, the responding officers gave the parents a lecture about how their children need to be careful when playing with a pretend firearm.

Yes, indeedy. Never mind that it’s perfectly legal, even in California, to own an actual AR. As long as you have the properly neutered magazines, that is. Also never mind that that the two tikes were perfectly within their rights to play with their plastic gun in their parents’ car if they damned well pleased.

“We take that pretty serious,” said Deputy Warren Toy, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. “We definitely educated [the parents] not to point even a toy gun at somebody because you never know if the other person had a real gun and would seek to engage.”

Thanks, Deputy Dawg. We’re quite sure mom and dad will be careful to keep junior’s toys safely hidden at home from now on so as not to offend polite society and prompt another full-on cavalry charge. Maybe now you can run along and dig up a sense of humor.

78 Responses to Kids Play With Toy Gun, Parents Lectured by Local Cops

  1. Unfortunately, the cops had a point. The person in the other car [including police] might react without thinking, and react violently. Yes, it would be idiotic, but yes, there are idiots out there. Postmortem apologies don’t mean much.

    BTW, did you notice the name of the police spokesman. His weapon is also a Toy gun…

    • “The person in the other car [including police] might react without thinking, and react violently.”

      A kid in a safety seat waving around a toy M-16 with an orange tip doesn’t exactly scream out “DANGER!!!”, except only to the very brain-dead.

  2. My parents always taught me to never point my toy guns at anyone to prevent exactly something like this happening. I’m not sure about why this is being mocked.

    These parents needed to remind their children to behave.

  3. this was a stupid airsoft gun if what i read is correct. Airsoft losers and people who want to play “army man” need to keep their ass in mom and dad’s backyard. why these fool parents let their kid ride around in their vehicle brandishing this faux ar are the one’s really at fault. I actually can’t believe that i am in agreement with cops in CA on this one.

    • My wife and I were strolling through a nearby state forest when two 12-13 year olds came by with an AR and 92f. I immediately screamed and wet myself, then curled up into a little ball sobbing while my wife frantically called 911. In reality I just said “nice airsoft” and continued walking. We didn’t even tell their opfor (dads) where the kids were when we saw the two of them, also armed to the teeth with realistic looking weapons.

  4. When we were kids, we played war with our father’s mausers and ariskas, running around the neighborhood. Times have changed, and not for the better. It’s probably best that Junior and Barbie leave the toy firearms at home, or at least in the trunk, unless the parents want to be hassled like this.

    • We often used brooms or sticks for ‘war’. Some kids had toy guns, though. Sometimes a dozen of us ran through people’s suburban yards screaming and yelling.

      No one cared.

    • Maybe there oughta be a law that says they have to keep them in a toy safe with toy gunlocks unless transporting to or from a designated toy-gun play area. We need stiff fines and harsh penalties, and all the rest.

        • We also need to have a background check system for toy guns, where children and their parents who wish to buy toy guns must undergo a 15-day waiting period. After the waiting period children will be enrolled into a toy gun safety course.

  5. i guess the key takeaway is the whole driving in a car brandishing. in a state with high levels of gang activity (black, Latino, biker etc) this was a really bad decision on the part of the parent driving this vehicle.

  6. Just want to point out that both kids in the car were in safety seats. So they were no more than, what, five maybe?

    It’s not like these were teens joyriding and pointing their airsofts out the window at passing motorists to get a reaction for shits and giggles. These were two little kids holding their orange tipped plastic gun in the back seat on their way to grandma’s house. Or somewhere.

  7. Gee.. I remember having toy guns as a kid and pretend to shoot things from the car. I even had toy hand grenades with caps that made noise. This was the mid-1960s. I could see our politically correct cops wetting their pants now, especially with the realistic toy hand grenades I used to have.

  8. Now, its pretty obvious that it was a toy. Airsoft guns can be very, very realistic: I used to have several. They were exact scale replicas of guns I could never hope to own. They even weighed just about what the real ones do. I would be hard pressed to tell the difference between some with just a glance, and not an actual inspection. And I work in a gunshop. If you take a look around on the internet, you’ll see what I mean. There are some very, very nice replicas. That being said, though, the vast majority are crappy replicas, and I doubt the local teen is going to have a $1200 Systema replica rifle or full metal Western Arms pistol.

    If some one pointed one of those at me and acted in a threatening manner, I very seriously doubt the situation would end well. So, assuming that it was a very good replica, the sheriff would have a point.

    But I doubt it was. Toys are toys and kids are kids. They’re going to play with toy guns just like they did a hundred years ago. The only difference is that now the toys are made better and the people are a lot dumber.

    The more you try and obfuscate firearms from children, and the less common they become, the more interested they’re going to be in them, or at least that’s the way it was when I was growing up. Children are curious, and things like guns are innately cool. It sucks for them, because on the one hand, every TV show has gunfights in it and soldiers and police and villains toting firearms and using them, but on the other hand, in California you have to wait 10 days to get a .22 target pistol and theres a huge stigmata against firearms in general. So they’re simultaneously being exposed to something and seeing how its used but they cant have it or get any real experience with it.

  9. Point taken about not pointing even toy guns at people. Could be dangerous. As my dad once said, “The devil could put a bullet in it.” But seven law enforcement units, and a lecture? It offends one’s sense of proportion.

    • It is not the polices job to lecture. It is to police. And these days the police seem to be getting out of control. They over react to everything. It seems they’ve gone mad with power, or possibly even worse, mad with desire to keep it.

      Btw, If you dont mind, i’m going to borrow your fathers phrase and use it. Its a good one.

  10. Its sad that the general population of California are pansies. Thank goodness our shooting range’s are in secluded areas. What would suck is if you just bought a gun from a store (like turners) and as soon as you walked out the door you got hassled by the fuzz!

  11. The whole notion of cops lecturing anyone about anything is too ludicrous for words. I don’t know how the parents kept from laughing in their faces. I would have told them to perform an anatomically impossible act. With a plunger.

  12. So, if the police in California see a child driving a battery operated Hot Wheels car in their yard… do they stop the child and check for a driver’s license?

    How about we trace the call back and tell the caller it was a toy. Maybe add a “grow the hell up”….

  13. CA resident here, hate to appear to be defending the nanny-state, but
    I’m with the cops on this one. Good habits save lives, bad habits lose them.

    So Cal has had a rash of horrible road-rage/nut-job freeway shooting incidents lately, so everyone is jumpy, and with kids growing bigger, and the new law going from age 6, to age 8 in 2012, it only makes sense to remind parents to be careful.

  14. “The false alarm began when a motorist reported seeing a person brandish a rifle out of the green minivan in Walnut on Friday afternoon”.
    — So how did the motorist or police overreact? The kids should not behave as they did. Someone else who was armed might have shot at the minivan believing they were being targeted or veered away too quickly hitting another vehicle.

    Maybe children’s toy guns should not be replicas of real guns in color or design. The incident took place in the LA general area that has seen lots of gun violence.

    • Technically,at least in my state of residence (Which is a lot more lenient than California about EVERYTHING), you have to be at least 18 to buy or posses an air soft gun. Maybe instead of making new laws about toy guns, they should enforce the ones that are already on the books.

  15. Remember the video of the cops beating up the old lady with the revolver during Katrina. California cops.

    Personally, I’d sue them for unlawful detention and civil rights violations.

  16. Because when I see toddlers in car seats pointing “fire arms” at me, I IMMEDIATELY think “Gang Bangers, Call 9-1-1” Puh-leeeeze the reporting person over-reacted and when CHiPs looked stupid for pulling over a mini-van full of dangerous 5 year olds in car seats with toy guns and Soccer mom they had to try and save face by lecturing the parents. Probably should have checked the expiration dates on the Juicey-Juice Boxes or looked to see if they had torn any tags off of the car seats (Do Not Remove This Tag)! Who knows what villainy might have been found in that mini-van.

    It was mini-van we might have found BA Barracus and the rest of the A-Team, wanted criminals.

  17. Without further details to go by, I also have a cautious vote in favor of the police response. They received a report of a large weapon being brandished in a public space, they responded with enough units to take down a potential crazy person or carload of gangbangers, and when it was clear there was no threat to public safety, they warned the responsible parties (the parents) about the risks and then left without further incident. How is this anything less than a model of rapid, efficient, lawful, professional police response? They likely get that same phone call a dozen times a day and the other eleven times, the consequences of not responding in this fashion could be quite serious.

    Pro tip: Don’t brandish anything that looks like a deadly weapon in a public space, period, unless using the toy or weapon at an appropriate venue, or acting in defense. Orange tips are irrelevant — they can’t always be seen at the critical moment and real weapons can be painted. And especially don’t do it in a noteably dangerous urban area where most of the time, it’s the real thing. Every gun-owner I know — all of them responsible and law abaiding, most of them CCW holders, and some of them in possession of small armories — would say the exact same thing. It’s just sensible.

    If junior wants to go militant in the backseat, give him a toy F14 Tomcat and let him go nuts, and tell him he can have his Army Man M16 back once the family is at home again. If anyone reports a threatening-looking F14 in a Walmart parking lot and gets this sort of police response, then I’ll join the side of “over-reaction”.

    • It’s not the job of the cops to lecture the parents about anything, unless they were breaking the law–which they weren’t. When they saw it was a little kid holding a plastic toy, the correct law enforcement response is “We’re sorry, ma’am, we were just responding to a call” and moving on. This is a cop trying to save face for wasting time and manpower on a wild goose chase.

    • If you are in an area where as you put it “most of the time, it’s the real thing”, you have bigger problems than toddlers waving around plastic.

      There are parts of towns where a girl in a short skirt is going to find herself misused real quick. That doesn’t mean banning short skirts is going to fix that. That just means you’ve got a big problem that needs fixing if you intend to maintain a functioning society.

  18. Cop saw toy gun. Cop saw toddler. As a ccw holder and Hunter Ed instructor, I’m really not worried about getting shot by this “Desperado”. And my mother would never, ever be my “wheel mom” after I robbed Krispy Kreme”. My wife would never stand a lecture from this pinhead. I’m sure these LEO’s in SoCal know where the REAL, armed, bad guys are. The’Bangers could actually place thes guys in harms way. Unfortunately. But hey, WTH, waste 1/2 a shift for 7 cops….28 man hours on this? Nice way to get 4 hours closer to your huge pension w/o actually doing your real job.

  19. I’m as much of a gun nut as you guys, but it sounds like the cops may have handled this one right.We don’t know what the citizen saw, but unless the kids were brandishing a bicycle or a trained seal, we can’t dismiss out of hand that he saw something that appeared subjectively to be a weapon.

    That the weapon was being “brandished in a threatening matter” we are not actually told. But whether the citizen’s report was justified or not, the police had a report and had to act on it.

    Overwhelming response is an accepted way to keep everybody from getting hurt, either police or the suspect. It may, as here, look inelegant and even silly, but it’s actually a rational policy.There are no reports of the police behaving violently when they found the people, or traumatizing the children.

    The officers may well have felt that the situation was the fault of the parents’ want of judgment and so they shared with them the benefit of their perspective and experience.

    A toy gun or anything that would cause a reasonable person to believe he was being threatened may give rise (in most common law jurisdictions) to the use of justifiable lethal force in self-defense, so it is reasonable to consider the kids behavior potentially dangerous.

    When we were children the social context was such that whatever we were brandishing, everyone knew that little kids didn’t go around shooting people. Also, for those of us in small towns, everybody probably knew who we were and that we’d never killed anybody important. Today, the social context, particularly in southern California, is much different.

    So let’s appreciate the police for handling this one well and save our ire for the unjustifiable stuff.

    • Yeah of course, a five year old with a toy gun, in a car seat, brandished a weapon in a threatening manner? You can write that without gigling?

      How about we don’t use 7 cops to begin with? How about a reconnaissance, first? INSTEAD, having been informed of “dangerous weapons being brandished” the Heroic LEO’s responded with overwhelming force…and looked foolish.

      So they have to lecture someone, as IF the parents were in the wrong. It seems were fire arms are concerned, reason is abandoned…

    • “[T]he police had a report and had to act on it.”

      Which they did, by stopping the car and investigating. On establishing that there was no breach of law or threat to public safety, the correct response was to say “Sorry, honest mistake” and get back in their cars.

      For one adult to lecture another is gross manners. For the police to offer an opinion as to how a taxpayer ought to behave is outside their portfolio.

      For any LEOs out there, here’s my lecture: If there’s no demonstrable reason for you to intervene, your default procedure should be to buzz off as quickly as possible.

    • Get serious. When was the last time you saw a 5 year old gangbanger? They know where the real bad guys are hanging out, but are too cowardly to take them down.

  20. How times have changed. In the 60’s my brother and I ran havoc with our friends over our upper-class neighborhood playing spy and having shoot-outs with starters pistols firing .22 cal blanks. No one said a word. No cops came running. I even took my dad’s pistol to first grade show-and-tell, with the teachers pre-approval. What in this country has changed?

  21. Person who called 911 should be given a ticket. Police could have done something constructive and used this as a teaching moment on proper use of 911. A child in a carseat playing with a toy is not an emergency — no matter how strong YOUR fear, or more likely your ANGER, is from seeing a toy gun. There is an entire crowd who belives parents who let there children play with toy guns should be charge with child abuse — maybe not a majority yet, but this was California so…

  22. the whole thing is a ridiculous example of how far from the Constitution we have drifted as a society, the cops should have tracked down the caller and scolded them for making frivilous calls to the police.

  23. I’m a strong believer in the 2A, and I think the cops did the right thing. This is definitely foolish behaviour by the parents, regardless of its legality. Some idiot in another passing car might think the weapon is real and, instead of just calling the cops, open fire with his own weapon. Yeah, that’s outrageous (although not so outrageous it couldn’t happen on LA freeways), and the crazy would be locked up for a hundred years.

    But seeing the crazy locked up is not going to compensate for the death of your child. Furthermore, while an adult with a toy weapon can be careful not to provoke a crazy, a kid doesn’t have that kind of judgment. Oh look, that funny man in the other car is pointing HIS gun at me and scowling! I’m going to aim mine at his head and pretend to pull the trigger, how funny!

    I agree the kid has a right to do it, and the parents have a right to let him do it. But the cops are doing their job warning the parents that this is extremely careless and could end in tragedy, like letting your 7-year-old attempt to relight the water heater pilot with a match.

    • I’m a strong believer in the 2A as well. Cops initially did the right thing- respond to a call (which I’m pretty sure didn’t include the description of the individual weilding the suspected weapon as a kid in a booster seat.).

      Parents weren’t foolish, the idiot calling in to complain was. Parent’s gave their kids a toy, kid played with it while properly strapped into his safety seat. The parents were responsible, don’t blame the parents for the over-reaction of others. (I don’t suspect it was an over-reaction, I suspect it was an anti-gun busy-body who feels they should be able to tell everyone else the ‘proper way’ to… parent… eat…. breathe… talk …. think….

    • Anyone deranged enough to open fire on a toddler with a toy gun, would be just as likely to open fire on a toddler without a toy gun.

      A ticket for faulty use of 911 is the right anwer. You can’t reason with hoplophopes, but you can discourage them.

      We had a rifle range in the basement of my school, in New York.

  24. Okay, so I get the vigilance on the part of the other motorist, and I get the vigilance of the LEOs on site. And you know what? I even get a simple, polite request to the parents to pay more attention to these seemingly little things.

    I don’t get a sermon from seven LEOs directed at two appearently-otherwise-responsible parents.

  25. A similar thing happened to me almost twenty years ago. I had been to a gun show with a buddy of mine, my eight-months-pregnant wife and four-year-old son. My friend had bought a pistol scope, and on the way home he took it out of its box and looked through it. Some moron with a cell phone (pretty new, then) called the CHP and said we brandished a weapon at him. We got pulled over. Six patrol cars were spread across all lanes of the I-5, stopping southbound traffic on a busy Sunday, with the officers pointing their weapons at us. We were cuffed while my car was turned inside out. My friend had two antique Colt pistols, unloaded and inside a gun rug on the floor. These were confiscated. Eventually, after showing the scope to the RP, they figured out their mistake. Now I don’t blame the cops for taking the report seriously. I do blame them for the rude and unprofessional way they treated us, which got worse when they realized that they were in the wrong, like they were mad at us for not being guilty. It took my friend two months and a court order to get his Colts back.

  26. I showed a friend a pair of antique guns in a parking lot of a restaurant at my farewell party given by my company. At least 15 police officers showed up patrolling about about 30 minutes afterwards. I went out to ask if I could help the officers. At their request, I showed them the antique mauser and SMLE rifles, unlocking the cases, with the bolts removed. They wished me a good trip from CA to Tx.

    In Tx, a Judge, prodded by my ex-wife, what guns I had. I began to list them in the order of purchase. According to the Texas judge, the two antique rifles didn’t count as guns.

    What a difference the state makes.

  27. They’re lucky that they were in Chino Hills, California and not Las Vegas, Nevada. They all would have been wiped out in a hail of lead, with a surprising lack of video record.

  28. Whether or no the cops over responded is not really clear given we don’t have the 911 transcript. But to lecture the parents is asinine at best. All they had to do was tell the parents some idiot called in gun report on the kids guns and let it go at that. Then they should have called the number of the person that reported it and told them what an orange tip on a gun means.

  29. I have zero problems with kids having toy guns. I’ve even given them out as Christmas presents. When I was growing up in the ’50s I played WW2 games ad nauseum with cap guns, but at the same time my father gave us careful instruction with real guns. But because we lived on a farm where a firearm was a tool, this was necessary. Later in life I lived in a city. Now, urban kids do not get the training I did. They get TV, if they get anything at all. One night the cops showed up in force at the house next door. A nine year old kid had been “playing” with Daddy’s .22 pistol, and shot his sister in the head. The victim did not live. I blame lack of training. Not the presence of a firearm in the house, or the lack of a trigger lock. Lack of training.

    If these kids actually were pointing their toys at other cars, I’m not going to fault a LEO for giving a lecture. I would have given it myself. Especially in today’s SoCal environment where irresponsible gangsters might be induced to use live ammo in response. That’s gotta be part of the training too, sad to say.

  30. “They likely get that same phone call a dozen times a day and the other eleven times, the consequences of not responding in this fashion could be quite serious.”

    I’m staying the hell out of Southern California then. If they get a dozen calls a day about little kids in baby seats with automatic weapons, and eleven of them are real then I see no need to enter that war zone.

  31. Look on the bright side here folks: No dogs were shot in the police response.And, BTW, having met a at least eight children who have LEO’s as parents, I’d say that most LEO’s are in no position to offer advice, unsolicited or otherwise, on rearing children.

  32. Our unionized politically correct pantywaist cops are a disgrace. Go and actually fight some real crime, like the #Occupy scum. The sad Thing is that the pathetic police union probably supports the violent leftist scum and find it much more rewarding to harass soccer moms and their kids…pathetic. All public employee unions must be outright banned as they represent a conflict of interest to the public whom these folks are supposed to serve. I used to be a whole hearted supporter of the police and firefighters, being a retired military man myself, but given their radical leftist unions, I find them to be more of a threat to my rights (and tax dollars) than of any actual public service (other than to themselves.) As for those good cops, firefighters, and the one out of every ten civil servants who actually do their jobs, you guys desperately need to toss out your criminal unions if you wish to regain the publics trust.

  33. It isn’t like I’m a hundred and fifty years old but when I was a boy, only fifty+ years ago, the most common sight in the world was a bunch of boys (and some girls) on biles with .22s, or single shot shotguns (or fish poles in season) heading out with dogs runnin’ alongside.

    And quarrels were settled with fists, kids shooting other kids was simply unheard of. Of course, back then police were public servants and experts hadn’t taken over society. I really do not like what The Experts have done.

  34. I’m an NRA member and have owned and used guns (real and toy) for well over 40 years. I’m also teaching my kids safe and responsible gun handling. So I would call myself very “Pro-gun” but also “Pro-safe-handling”. When I read this news story, it seems to fail to explain what the kids were doing with the gun, only that it was a toy gun. I does say that the kids were in a vehicle which had been driving down the road. That reminds me of an occasion when I was driving on a 4-lane city street. A car pulled up along side me in the flow of traffic and I glanced over. A teenager in the back seat pointed a revolver out the window at me and pulled the trigger. It was a toy, and he laughed when he saw me flinch back in my seat. I managed to remain in control of my pick-up truck, but what if I had lost it when I was recoiling from the apparent in-my-face attack? How big an accident might I have caused and how many people might have been killed or injured? It was obvious to me that the teenager’s parents had not taught him to respect others and think of what his actions might cause. How many agree that teenager needed a “talking to”? Maybe with a paddle on the behind? So what were the kids in this current story doing? Holding it politely? Or pointing it out the window at passing motorists and saying “bang”? It’s not just the kids fault – it’s also the fault of the parents who failed to properly instruct or supervise them. But the accident it could cause could kill somebody just as dead. So toy guns (and real guns) are fine in my thinking, but not if being misused.

  35. I’ll tell you why the cops freaked.

    Because this triggered one of a cop’s worst nightmares: confronting a figure brandishing a firearm, opening fire in self-defense, and discovering that one has just shot and killed a child holding a toy.

    In an era when teenaged criminals with guns are commonplace, LEOs are justifiably afraid for their lives. At the same time they are terrified of making that kind of mistake. So they are very hostile to any potential confusing factor.

    • Hey, Rich. I think we know each other.

      I’d say the solution to this is for the cops to stop panicking. It’s not even close to one of the most dangerous jobs, yet I’ve met many who’ve convinced themselves that they face more danger than front line troops in Fallujah. Unless they see an imminent threat, they need to assess the situation. The whole “if you see a gun you have to panic” meme is ridiculous. Judge the nature of the individual and the event, and then take action, rather than lashing out. If it really is a real gun, and the person is a potential threat, then either diplomacy or a SWAT team is called for, not mana-a-mano standoffs.

      If they can’t do that, I believe McDonald’s is hiring.

  36. As a native Californian, I can remember being in high school in the 1970s (no less), in a well-known party college town. Our high school principal requested that anyone bringing a firearm to school for pheasant, duck, goose or deer hunting, make sure they left it inside his office or the vice-principal’s office, to keep the college students and near-by hippie-hangers-on from burglarizing the student vehicles. Their two offices usually held a bunch of rifles and shotguns depending upon the season. No one was worried or concerned that we would be psychologically damaged by having firearms at a public school. The college now a CSU “university”, was only three blocks away, so we had a lot of “trouble” with idiots from that school coming to our campus. Los Angeles County Sheriff’s under the direction of the well know political PIMP, Sheriff Lee Baca, now has a political undertone of “occupying force” rather than protecting and serving their clients. That recruiting was done intentionally by Baca, to pander to his political puppet-masters in the County Board of Supervisors, so the LASO was once a great organization and the “dinosaurs” are being tossed out in an attempt to make the agency more “PC” and neutered in it’s capability to actually combat the criminal elements that pillage Los Angeles County at will. It’s far easier and more politically “expedient” to do a quasi-felony stop on a Mommy-Mini-Van than to upset the acolytes of Maxine Waters-D, and others of her political ilk.

  37. They really wouldnt have liked my father then. Back in the 1930’s, Pop used to run around Washington D.C. with his friends playing army with the WWI Mauser that my Great uncle brought back from the war and had given to him. Egads!!

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