Police officers discourage parents from buying realistic toy guns as holiday gifts

ARAB, Ala. (WHNT) -- Law enforcement officers are encouraging parents to be mindful of buying toy guns for their children this holiday season. They say to take note of how realistic-looking air guns can be, and how in a split second, that determination can be difficult for a police officer.

Look at the picture to the left. Which one is real? If you have a few moments you can probably figure it out, but the similarities are striking. "They do. They look very real. A lot of them have similar markings like the actual gun that they're modeled after have," said Arab Police Assistant Chief Shane Washburn. "With the Airsoft and the air-pistol type style, the BB gun, those styles, they don't have the orange tips on them. They look just like a real handgun."

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Holiday gift guide: Themed gifts
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Holiday gift guide: Themed gifts

For The Cookie Lover

If you've never tried these, just drop everything and gift yourself right now. We mean it, right now. 

If you're feeling non-committal, there are also boxes of 4 and boxes of 8.

Assortment - Gift Box of 12 Cookies, Levain Bakery, $71

For The Makeup Lover

The makeup alone is a win, but that bag. Gimme gimme.

Le Parisian Holiday Case, Lancome, $59.50

For The Jetsetter

For the friend who is never in one place for longer than a week.

Women's Organizing Travel 4-pack, Uncommon Goods, $48

For The Jewelry Lover

Stunning earrings galore (plus an adorable gift bag that comes with it!).

Flora Crystal Stud Set of 4, BaubleBar, $112

For The Brunch Lover

Brunch in a basket (A.K.A. not leaving the house)? Totally fine by us. 

Brunch Gift Basket, Harry & David, $69.99

For The Tea Lover

A collection of 12 of the most popular DAVIDsTEA teas for the friend who prefers tea to coffee.

the best of 2016, DAVIDsTEA, $26

For The Dolly Parton Fan

They're from Reese Witherspoon's line!

What Would Dolly Do Cocktail Napkins, Draper James, $58

For the music lover and chef extraordinaire.

Music Note Measuring Spoon Set, Uncommon Goods, $55

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That's something officers want parents to keep in mind if they're planning on those gifts this holiday.

"I would dare say it is impossible at a split second to make a difference between what is a real gun and what's a fake gun when they look so similar," Washburn said. A split second is usually all officers have when they are put in a situation where they need to make that determination.

Washburn said officers see these realistic-looking air pistols often on teens and adults. "There are alternatives you can do as far as BB guns. You don't have to get the ones that are essentially replicas of a real firearm. You can get BB guns that are clearly a BB gun," Washburn explained.

That's something law enforcement officials encourage parents to think about if giving one of those as a gift is the plan this holiday. "I would encourage them not to have one that looks real, because it could be mistaken for an actual firearm," Washburn said.

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