Is it a toy gun? Is it a real gun? More stores are starting to sell realistic-looking weapons as part of Halloween costumes in order to “complete the look,” but how dangerous can these be when you take them out in public?
UCF Police Department Officer Peter Stevens said that law enforcement can’t take a “perceived” threat as innocent anymore; Times have changed.
“The use of fake guns as part of Halloween costume, while adding to the authenticity of the look, does not work well for officer,” Stevens said. “We can give you hundreds of examples where criminals and even legitimate manufacturers are making real weapons look like toys, and visa versa.”
After checking around at the local Halloween stores in the UCF area, most do sell a variety of weapons including fake guns like a pistol, 9mm hand gun, or even different rifles, all with realistic sounds added to them.
So what is the ‘rule’ so to say about bringing these out in public if you choose to do so? Currently in the state of Florida it is illegal to openly carry a firearm of any kind around in public. Even if the weapon is fake it could pose as a threat to a police officer.
Officer Stevens said “even though it is not technically a weapon because it is non-functional (doesn’t shoot), that will not matter to an officer during the first few seconds of an encounter.”
Fake weapons, guns in particular are becoming harder to tell if they are real or not. Most people associate an orange tip with a fake gun but that just isn’t the case anymore. Criminals have started to paint real gun tips orange to throw off police, this in return is making it harder for the police to let these situations slide on ‘dress up’ holidays like Halloween.
Depending on where you decide to go for your Halloween celebrations could determine whether you are even able to bring a fake weapon with you. Bars around campus make these rules based on their specific venue and management, therefore it could vary. As for public property, that’s when the scenario changes.
Knight News asked Officer Stevens what students are supposed to do if they happen to run into a conflict with their fake weapon and the police department.
“If you do find yourself in a situation where you are confronted by an officer, immediately drop the weapon, raise your hands slowly and do not make any threatening movement. They won’t care if you are telling them “it’s fake”, they are going to treat it as real until the situation is secure and there are no more threats,” Stevens said.
He also wanted to remind UCF students that the same rules apply for masks in public. There is no exemption for the Halloween holiday.
“Bottom line, have fun during Halloween. Take care though when dealing with any costume that has a weapon involved, even if it is only a simulated or fake one. Officers will make split second decisions on how to treat you if they encounter you holding even a fake weapon and we don’t want these encounters to end in tragedy over a mistaken identity due to a fake gun,” Stevens said.
Realistic-looking fake guns can have serious consequences, even if it makes your Purge outfit “complete”. If you just keep these rules in mind while celebrating your Halloween you should be able to stay safe, and of course enjoy your Halloween night.