BB ban - they look like the real thing

THIS ball bearing gun looks startlingly like the real thing.Yet the weapon is being sold openly on an Ipswich town centre market stall in full view of young children.

THIS ball bearing gun looks startlingly like the real thing.

Yet the weapon is being sold openly on an Ipswich town centre market stall in full view of young children.

An Evening Star reporter bought a £20 BB gun on the stall, which has no posters displaying an age limit for buyers.

Criminals can easily get their hands on one and use it to hold-up a store as there is no telling if it is a real gun.

As reporter James Hewlett, 23, handed over the cash, a stall worker said he had been selling the BB guns for several years and it had attracted viewers aged three to 60 years.

Ipswich borough council has banned them being sold from the stall as from December 3.

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We showed the BB gun (a plastic gun firing plastic pellets) to shoppers who were stunned the products were for sale.

Even showing it to shoppers felt decisively uncomfortable.

The colour immediately drained from shopper Vern Muller's face when he saw the weapon.

The South African knows all too well about the dangers of guns after he fled the country because of the violence. He said the average life expectancy for an adult male there is 47 years old.

Examining the BB gun 33-year-old, of Nansen Road, Ipswich, said it looks just like the real thing: "In South Africa you get used to the look of them. Lots of people had guns because it makes them feel safer.

"I have held a handgun before when I was doing national service in South Africa and this one feels the same weight.

"If you buy that for a child how would they know the difference between that and a plastic one?

"There are no big letters on it saying toy and no flashing lights on it or clowns popping out. It is obviously meant to look like the real thing and meant for playing shooting and killing games. I don't think it is right. There is no need for it.

"If children get used to weapons it is damaging.

"I never let my three year old son watch violent cartoons on television. There are so many educational toys that there is no need for this.

"I just want to know why the council are taking so long in banning them being sold at the market? It shouldn't have to be such a long process?"

Gary Boehringer, 64, of Old Foundry Road, Ipswich, was also stunned. He was in the military in America and grew up with firearms and said it looks startlingly real.

"It is hard to tell this from the real thing from a distance," he said.

"It is very worrying and dangerous because someone walking around with one of these could get himself killed.

"If there was an armed robbery or something they know what it is but how would police know if it was the real thing or not? They are just putting themselves in jeopardy.

"I am fully supportive of the council's ban on BB guns being sold on the market stall."

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