Keeping toy guns safe, what should parents do?

Published: Feb. 22, 2016 at 11:36 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 23, 2016 at 3:10 AM EST
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Airsoft gun with orange tip removed (Source: North Ridgeville Police Department)
Airsoft gun with orange tip removed (Source: North Ridgeville Police Department)

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Ron Soeder is the president of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Cleveland. He says they teach children and teenagers to avoid situations like this that could end up in tragedy.

"First of all, avoid buying them. There's no reason for a child to have a gun that looks that real," Soeder said. "They get the idea that it's make believe and it's not. They're putting themselves at risk, and parents-- by buying the guns and giving the kids guns as toys-- used to be innocent. It's not anymore."

Two Cleveland Police officers safely took away several air soft guns from one child and two teenagers Monday. Officers say the guns had the orange tips removed.

The kids were near the Cudell Recreation Center on the city's west side, where 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot and killed by police. Rice also had an air soft gun. The kids ages 10, 13 and 14 years old complied with officers.

Police say they did shoot out at least one window at 1374 W. 114th Street. No injuries were reported.

The Boys and Girls Clubs serve over one thousand children in the Cleveland area. Soeder says they have held events encouraging children to turn in toy guns. They also teach kids about how the justice system works and how to interact with police.
"Our real job is to keep them safe, give them opportunities, give them hope and the belief they can overcome their circumstance," Soeder said.

Toy guns look a lot different than they used to.
Soeder says it takes the community to keep our kids safe.

"Even if it's innocent, it can be used for the wrong reason. And like Tamir, people can end up dead," he said.

So what can you do as a parent?
If you allow your child to use an airsoft gun, experts say make sure the orange tip stays on.

And don't let him or her use it in public without adult supervision.

Police say if officers show up while your child is playing with an airsoft gun, they need to know to d rop it right away and put their hands up.

Also on Monday, North Ridgeville Police released a warning on Facebook about toy guns, complete with realistic looking photos.

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