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Real or fake? Police warn of replica guns

After seeing an increase in realistic-looking toy guns being stolen from stores and used in crimes, the Gainesville Police Department is warning parents of potential deadly consequences of using having them in the wrong place.

Officers showed examples of the replica guns that might be pointed at someone who has to decide, in a split second with their life on the line, if it's real or a toy.

"It looks very much like a real .357 cartridge until you tilt it and notice there is a hole that runs down the middle of it, said Gainesville police spokesman Ben Tobias. "It's a full blowback, so the slide is going to come back, just like a real one. This is going to be real to me."

It's not real; it's a BB gun. But an officer may not have time to see the difference. They want parents to know that before something tragic happens.

"What we are scared of is that somebody is going to point one of these on a concealed-permit holder, somebody that legally has a firearm," Tobias said. "They are going to perceive that as a threat, and the consequences are going to be deadly."

It’s hard enough to tell real or fake in a controlled environment.

"To look at every detail that we can look at in a half of a second to realize, 'Am I about to die because there is a gun pointed at me, or is this a BB gun?'" Tobias said.

News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith sees the potential danger to the person holding the replica gun.

"I'm going to take a defensive posture. If I am armed, I am going to draw my weapon," Smith said.

Tobias said he is not telling people not buy these for their children. He just wants them to make sure they have a conversation about safely using them because of the realistic appearance.