As any responsible gun owner knows, guns are not toys. It is a simple declaration, but gun safety saves lives.
But, as Damien Alonzo Burch, a resident of Catawba, North Carolina, proves, new technology and designs can worryingly blur the lines between guns and toys.
According to a March 18 media release by the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office, “Narcotics Investigators with the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office, Hickory Police Department and the Newton Police Department” executed a search warrant on Burch’s home, as he was under investigation for possession of narcotics.
“During this search investigators seized quantities of cocaine, psilocybin mushrooms and marijuana. Investigators also seized approximately $2,300.00 in United States Currency and twenty firearms consisting of pistols, rifles and shotguns,” the release noted.
One of the weapons was particularly shocking. The media release elaborated that a “Glock model 19 pistol with a fifty round drum magazine, had been altered to resemble a toy Nerf gun.”
It is important to note that the gun did not have any illegal modifications. That being said, any gun modified to look innocuous — especially when it is connected to a narcotics investigation — is going to be of concern to law enforcement.
Some commenters expressed confusion as to why a legal gun was of such attention during an otherwise standard narcotics investigation.
“If the nefarious intent were to the degree that you are implying, there would be a stock on that roni; not an arm brace. Quit trying to Demagogue folks to make yourself feel better, and make your constituents fear a Boogieman that isn’t even there,” one person argued.
“If the gun is not illegal to [possess] why are you harping on it? Couldn’t find any big scary AK’s or AR’s to cry about? That roni Glock pistol conversion isn’t any more illegal than the rest of the guns on that table,” another person agreed. However, others were concerned about the possibility of children have access to toy-like firearms.
“Imagine you thinking you are play shooting with a nerf gun and boom you wake up in heaven” noted one commenter.
Another person was a lot more aggressive, asserting that “[you should] excuse us for being overly nervous when we encounter these ‘toys’ held by adults. Until otherwise proven these are a threat so follow our instructions.”
Personally, I see both sides of the issue.
On one hand, there’s nothing wrong with a law-abiding citizen customizing his firearms. A government decree telling citizens how they can and can’t paint their firearms would be intolerable, and almost certainly a violation of the 2nd Amendment.
On the other hand, law enforcement has a tough job keeping our communities safe, and it is not unreasonable for them to suspect that a gun painted to look like a Nerf gun may be used for nefarious purposes — especially when the gun’s owner has already demonstrated that they are a less-than model citizen.
I just consider it fortunate that a child never got ahold of Burch’s weapon.
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