Ball bearing warning from police

PARENTS of children with ball-bearing guns were today urged to organise for them to be handed in to police to avoid youngsters facing the terrifying prospect of being confronted by firearms officers.

PARENTS of children with ball-bearing guns were today urged to organise for them to be handed in to police to avoid youngsters facing the terrifying prospect of being confronted by firearms officers.

Suffolk police has launched a month-long BB gun amnesty in a bid to get replica firearms off the county's streets.

The force has become concerned by the number of times it has had to deploy armed officers following reports from members of the public that they have seen someone brandishing a gun.

Often these reports turn out to be young people with BB guns.

Today Inspector Alex Morrison, from Suffolk police's operational support group, said the force hoped to educate parents on the dangers of their children having BB guns.

He said: “Often they do not know it is an offence to go in a public place with an imitation firearm. But immediately their children are committing an offence and they could be arrested.”

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And he said when firearms officers were called to investigate reports of someone with a gun, it presented an extremely risky situation.

He said: “They may have to take someone's life because of that irresponsible behaviour. Carrying a BB gun could get you killed.

“BB guns often look identical to real weapons. Officers have to make a split-second decision on whether you're a threat.

“We're trying to get mums and dads to think about this.”

To warn people about the risk, posters have been designed and are being distributed around the county.

Anyone caught carrying a BB gun in a public place runs the risk of being arrested and prosecuted. The penalty could be six months imprisonment and/or a fine.

People who are concerned about owning a BB gun, or parents who do not want their children to have one anymore, can now arrange for it to be safely collected by trained firearms officers and destroyed by Suffolk Police.

Anyone with an unwanted weapon should call Suffolk police on 01473 613500.

Have you seen someone with a BB gun and thought it was the real thing? Do you think BB guns should be banned? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

Tips for responsible BB gun owners from Suffolk police:

Owning a BB gun is not illegal but carrying them in public could lead to criminal charges

Only use them responsibly in a private place

Make sure you are out of sight of onlookers who may be alarmed by realistic-looking firearms

Ensure that any BBs or pellets fired remain safely inside your property

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