Police in and around San Francisco voiced concerns earlier this week about a disturbing trend they’ve noticed during recent gun seizures: criminals painting or otherwise obtaining vibrantly colored guns that, from a distance, appear to be toys.
Pleasant Hill Police Chief Pete Dunbar told reporters last week that Oakland area precincts were flooded with officer safety bulletins to be on the lookout for guns that are realistic facsimiles of toy guns. Reports indicate people are painting handguns and rifles with high quality Duracoat, often in dramatic color patterns and design schemes that clearly resemble children’s toys.
When questioned as to what painted guns would mean for patrolling officers, Dunbar responded pointedly: “It just adds to the danger that law enforcement folks come into every day, where you don’t know what’s going to happen. Where what we thought was a toy gun was a real gun.”
The Oakland Police Officers’ Association has taken point on the issue and, during a month that saw 15 peace officers killed on duty across the nation, the Officer’s Association is particularly sensitive to any potential threats. “The only thing I suspect is that if they get in a situation with a police officer that maybe the police officer will look at the weapon and think it’s a toy, and potentially get a drop on a police officer,” said the association’s President Dominic Arotzarena.
Local authorities have additionally focused considerable ire at Canyon Sports in Martinez, California, a gun shop northeast of Oakland and one of the few gun purveyors in the area. In what has become a common sight in gun shops across America, customers can purchase several guns that are finished in brighter, more feminine colors geared towards female gun owners.
Conceding that the Canyon Sports guns don’t compare to painted guns cops are pulling off the street, Police Chief Dunbar commented, “Certainly, a kid finding a pink gun is going to think it’s less of an issue than a gun that is black and menacing looking.”
Ron Kennedy, owner of Canyon Sports, said, “Most of the pink guns are for breast cancer awareness.” When asked if he saw any danger in brightly pained guns, he added that he doubted the painted guns constituted a serious threat, stating, “Most criminals spend very little money on their firearms.”