Sioux City police, prosecutors seek to stop use of toy guns –

The fine line between real and “fake” weapons is causing concern among law enforcement officials.(Photo: LAUREL POLICE DEPARTMENT)

SIOUX CITY, Ia. (AP) — It was just after 1 a.m. Dec. 15 when 18-year-old Devon Simons walked into the Kum & Go, pointed what appeared to be a black handgun at the clerk and demanded cigarettes and cash.

He left with 13 packs and nearly $1,000.

In under an hour, Sioux City Police officers apprehended Simons at another Kum & Go. Upon his capture, police found he had used a BB gun, not a real firearm, to hold up the clerk.

Simons was charged with second-degree robbery and sentenced to 10 years in prison in mid-March, the maximum charge and sentence for someone using a weapon not classified as “dangerous” to commit a robbery.

Police say they frequently encounter the use of “toy” weapons like BB guns and pellet guns by criminals, especially as the resemblance between them and real firearms grows.

But police say they would support stronger deterrents in the law against using them like real weapons. The worry is twofold: First, that people are using them to commit crimes, and second, that a situation could arise where, in self-defense, a civilian or a police officer would use shoot someone displaying one.

While it’s illegal to carry a real firearm in city limits without a concealed carry permit, Sioux City code does allow for the carry of lookalike “toy” weapons, such as a hand BB guns, provided they are not discharged. Police can only confiscate such weapons if they are used in a crime.

“You’re not going to come across a lot of cops who have not patted someone down for weapons and found simulated weapons at one point in time,” Sioux City Police

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