Nearly every state has enhanced penalties for armed robbery compared to your standard, garden-variety robbery. In Nebraska statute, for instance, to be considered armed, waiving a toy or replica gun isn’t enough. If the robber can show that what he used during a hold-up wasn’t a real gun, then the enhanced penalty for the use of a firearm doesn’t apply. From ketv.com . . .
“It looks like a real gun. You know it acts like a real gun,” Kleine said. He made the comments while showing KETV NewsWatch 7 a fake gun used by a teen to commit a robbery.
But under state law, the fake gun isn’t a firearm, even if it’s used to commit a crime.
The current law gives robbers an incentive to use fake or toy guns in the commission of their crimes. That may actually be a good thing. I’d rather have robbers used fake, toy, or ineffective guns instead of the real, deadly variety.
Nebraska senators have yet to sign off on toughening the law about using toy or replica guns in crimes. It hasn’t yet come out of committee. There’s talk of adding it as an amendment to other legislation.
Many robbers never believe that anything is going to go wrong when they are in the process of committing crimes, so they’re comfortable using toy or fake guns. A surprising number of robbers use guns that aren’t loaded, guns loaded with the wrong ammo, or loaded with much less than full capacity. In one of the few studies to consider how criminals are armed, Greg Ellifritz, from a small midwestern police department found this:
Out of 85 weapons seized:
– 24 are not loaded
– 2 are not loaded with the correct ammunition
– 9 are completely broken
Combine those facts and you will see that 41% of the weapons we seize from criminals are completely non-functional!
No one has developed a national database on this, so there could very well be considerable variation. Still, it is interesting information.
It might be wise to encourage this trend. If a criminal’s gun is fake or doesn’t work, their victims can’t be shot with them. The downside for the perp, of course, is that a person who can’t tell if their attacker’s gun is fake would be justified in assuming that the gun is real and loaded, thus increasing the chance of the bad guy catching some lead. Should we make the penalties for using a toy gun as severe as they are for the real thing?
©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included. Gun Watch