A shotgun concealed within a Super Soaker.
A handgun painted red.
Guns painted with cartoon characters and multiple colors.
Customization and concealment of personal items is something people have done since forever, but now it's being taken too far with firearms and the result is deadly. Go to Google and search on "guns that look like toys" then click on Images. Dozens of pictures of real firearms that have been decorated or painted for concealment come up. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Criminals have figured it out - cops will hesitate to shoot if they think the weapon isn't real. Unfortunately, with continued and increased criminal use of firearms, that second guessing can get a cop killed.
The media has been picking up on this topic more and more lately and it seems to be becoming more of a problem. Unfortunately, there's no good solution either.
And that's scary.
Kids have played with toy guns for hundreds of years; practically since the first firearm was invented. It's a rite of passage; playing cowboys and indians, cops and robbers, army, and more. Toy guns have always been obvious; whether it's the bright orange tipped airsoft gun, the snap cap cowboy six shooter, or brightly colored squirt guns, these are part of millions of childhoods.
There are also well known training tools such as the blue or red plastic guns utilized in classes to educate new and experienced gun owners. These are used to provide safe training drills for self defense and combat exercises. I own both a blue, heavy plastic Beretta look-alike and a red with black slide Glock look-alike that provide grip and dry-fire practice.
There's also a drive to "customize and personalize" firearms. This is one of the most irresponsible actions a gun owner can consider and firearms manufacturers should be slapped up side the head for providing the product. Firearms need to look like firearms; black, silver, brown, no cartoons or bright colors. As much as I dislike gun control legislation, this is one of those instances where the gun control advocates have a reasonable platform. If you own firearms, please - do NOT make them "pretty".
As always, law abiding citizens are not the primary problem here, but we all need to be aware. It's no longer sensible to allow our children to play with toy guns when out and about, even on the cul de sac. Criminals are desperate and they don't care if innocent bystanders are caught in the crossfire, so take the time to protect yourself and your family. Sit down with your kids and tell them about these decorated/customized weapons, help them understand the importance of avoiding them and what to do if another child brings one out.