ABC News reported that on Tuesday, July 3, 22-year-old Roy Mitchell entered D's One Stop Food Mart in Brandon, Miss., with his mother, Sharron Mitchell, following close behind. Roy approached the counter, presumably to pay for a bag of chips, but when the clerk opened the cash register to place Roy's money inside, Roy produced what appeared to be a black semi-automatic handgun, which he pointed at her. Roy demanded the clerk give him the money from the register, but his plan was thwarted by an unlikely culprit — his mother.
Sharron approached her son from behind as he pointed his gun at the clerk. She reached over his shoulder and grabbed the gun, disarming her son. Sharron apologized to the clerk, explaining that the gun was not real, and asked the clerk not to report the incident to police. The clerk did call police, however, and the mother and son were apprehended about 20 minutes later. A search of their vehicle subsequent to a traffic stop lead to the discovery of the "fake" plastic pistol used by Roy during the attempted armed robbery.
Roy was booked into the Rankin County Jail for attempted armed robbery on a $300,000 bond.
Assistant Brandon Mississippi Police Chief, Chris Butts, described Sharron's actions as follows: "The mother sees the commotion, grabs the gun out of the boy's hand and pushes him out of the store. I kind of feel like she's somewhat of a little hero. If the clerk had a gun, it could have been real messy."
In recent years, the prevalence of realistic airsoft guns has created some serious concerns for police and legally armed citizens alike. In some cases, even in a close, side-by-side comparison, it's difficult to differentiate between an airsoft replica and the genuine firearm it was modeled after. Tragically, this has led to adults, and in some cases children, playing with "toy" guns and being shot.
As in this case, criminals sometimes use an airsoft gun to emulate a real firearm. Perhaps this is because an airsoft gun is cheaper and easier to obtain than a real gun, or it may be that the criminal assumes that emulating a weapon during a crime will lessen their sentence as compared to using a real gun.
While no police officer or legally armed citizen wants to shoot someone who doesn't present a deadly threat, we have to assume that if a seemingly real gun is pointed at us, it's real and it's loaded. If you wait for confirmation of either factor, it's likely to be the last mistake you ever make.
As if the possibility of confusing an airsoft gun for a real gun wasn't enough of a challenge, there's another emerging trend that is just as scary -- real guns specifically designed to resemble airsoft or other types of "toy" guns.
What are your thoughts on this issue?