CEDAR HILL, Texas (CBS11) – Police departments across North Texas are responding just a day after Arlington Police shot a man they said was holding a BB gun.
The officer involved shooting happened Sunday at the Parks Mall.
Investigators said William Paul Dodd told 911 operators he had a gun and when officers arrived it appeared he was holding a pistol.
But police said after an officer fired, they realized he was holding a fake gun.
“You only have a moment to make a decision,” said Lt. Colin Chenault with Cedar Hill Police. “Is this person trying to kill me with a real gun or a fake gun?”
Cedar Hill Police said in the last year officer confiscated at least 7 fake guns.
“The biggest issue is that they look so real and that there is no way to determine the differentiation between a real and fake gun,” said Chenault.
Side-by-side it is hard to tell which gun is carrying round of lethal ammunition and which one simply has BBs loaded inside.
“We’re not trained, nor should we be trained to say, ‘It’s always fake until it’s proven real.’ That’s a really backwards mindset mentality that can cost police officers lives,” said Chenault.
On a few occasions, Cedar Hill Police responded to reports of suspects walking around public places with the very real looking BB guns.
But just two weeks ago, police arrested a man for using a BB gun to rob a Jack In The Box.
“They’re cheap, you can get them from almost anywhere, local retail stores,” said Chenault. “There’s no background check required because they’re not real firearms.”
Walk into most sporting goods and the imitation guns can be seen hanging on racks. Prices can range from $25 to $99.
“You put your life and other people’s lives in jeopardy when you’re playing with something like this,” said Chenault.
Cedar Hill Police feel if someone has one of the BB guns, they should treat it as if it were real.
“If you want to have one, we have no problems with that. But we want to make sure you’re using it in a responsible way,” said Chenault.
Police said they would like to see some sort of legislation or even federal law that would require replica or BB guns to look much different or have clearer markings.