Fake Guns Looking More Real

By Matt Porter

November 30, 2012 Updated Nov 30, 2012 at 7:53 PM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Pellet and BB guns are very different from that old Red Ryder BB gun in the 1983 holiday movie, "A Christmas Story."

And police say these air powered weapons can do more than poke your eye out.

Binghamton Police Sargent and firearms trainer Daniel Frair demonstrated the similarities of the fake to the real.

"It's got a magazine, a separate magazine that you would load, you stick it right up in and pull the slide back just like any regular gun," said Frair. "So if an officer or anybody were watching this happen, there's nothing here that says this is a fake gun at all."

Since officers can't always tell a real hand gun from an air gun, they treat any weapon, imitation or not, as real.

New York State law lists imitation weapons with other dangerous objects like knives. The minimum penalty for using air guns in an assault is a misdemeanor.

Police say the lesser penalty makes the guns an attractive option for criminals.

And with air guns coming at a fraction of the cost of a real one, police are seeing more of these fake guns on the real streets.

Binghamton police confiscated at least 15 air guns in the last 10 months.

Last week, a man injured three people in a pellet gun shooting in Binghamton.

Frair said in the heat of the moment, police need to treat the fake guns as real.

"You feel you're being threatened with anything that could possibly be a gun, you're going tor react accordingly without a doubt," Frair said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 16,451 injuries from air guns in 2011.

Last May, an 8-year-old in Towanda was hospitalized after a pellet just missed his spine.