Criminals using fake guns to commit real crimes - WNEM TV 5

Criminals using fake guns to commit real crimes

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SAGINAW COUNTY, MI (WNEM) -

Criminals in Mid-Michigan and across the nation are using fake guns to commit real crimes, but that can also lead to very real consequences.

Phil Sheridan owns Sheridan Arms, a local gun dealer. He said criminals using fake guns for real crimes is a growing problem, but he doesn’t advise it.

"You're going to encounter somebody with a live firearm,” he said. “And they're going to perceive that as a threat. And certainly exists the chance they're going to draw their firearm and shoot and kill somebody."

Many fake guns have an orange tip on the barrel, but if you were to cover it up the gun would look very real. Law enforcement officials said that can be a big problem to anyone using fake guns with bad intentions.

"It doesn't matter if it's a toy gun, a fake gun or a real gun - it's still a gun in the eyes of the law,” said Henry Reyna, with the Frankenmuth Police Department.

Reyna said it’s getting harder for officers to tell the difference between real and fake firearms.

“Not just toy guns, but pellet guns and BB guns. They’re all being designed by the manufacturers to look like real guns because after all, it just sells better,” he said.

As for Sheridan, you won't find any impostors for sale at Sheridan Arms.

While he admits fake guns are easy to get, he wants people using them to treat the replicas like the real thing.

"I hope the penalties for using a fake gun are serious enough that it deters them from being used,” he said. “Because the only possible result is that person using the fake gun being shot."

Crimes committed using fake weapons are a growing problem across the country.

Police in Baltimore were recently involved in a shooting with a 13-year-old boy. Officers said the gun turned out to be fake, but looked very real. The teen is expected to recover.

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