Skip to Content

Special report Pt. 1: Airsoft guns not ‘real’ – but danger is


The game of war is evolving and growing in the backyards of Central Oregon. The weapon of choice? Airsoft guns.

“With our realistic guns, it gives us more of a realistic feeling, like we’re in combat,” said 13-year old Colton Seymour of Sisters.

The realism thrills the players — and confounds law enforcement. Deschutes County sheriff’s patrol Captain Erik Utter says the similarities come down to the serial number.

“I mean, that’s unbelievable, how similar those two firearms are to one another,” Utter said. “Magazine is the same, slide release, the disassembly to take the slide of the barrel off, those are even the same.”

It’s the spitting image of a real gun in the eyes of officers, who have to tell the difference in a split-second situations.

“If they look like they mean to do harm, your assumption is that it is a real firearm. And it’s hard to distinguish, in the heat of the moment, if it is or isn’t,” Utter said.

In Deschutes County, criminals are starting to take advantage. In 2014, there were six cases in Deschutes County involving the use of replica airsoft or pellet guns.

New District Attorney John Hummel says fake guns are causing real terror.

“They are used purposefully to terrify people,” Hummel said.

But Hummel says the time behind bars will be as real as the fear they create.

“We’re treating crimes committed with guns like this just as we would crimes committed with real guns, because it puts our community at risk,” Hummel said.

There are communities in danger and lives at risk in other parts of the country as well. In Cleveland, Ohio, 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot and killed by police in a playground after pulling a BB gun out of his waistband.

While such a mistake has never happened in Deschutes County, it remains on the minds of law enforcement.

“What keeps cops up at night is that they might some day make an error,” Utter said. “(It’s) something you never want to be confronted with.”

The thrill of being behind the barrel takes on the terror of being in front. For Hummel, the solution is to take the guns out of the equation.

“This is not an anti-gun campaign I’m on. This is an anti-insanity campaign,” Hummel said. “You put a gun like this into a kid’s hands, you’re risking that kid’s life.”

But for families with airsoft guns in the house, there’s no reason to take the guns away. On Thursday night First at Ten on Fox, the second part of this special report looks into the safety precautions taken by the players on the front lines of this controversial activity.

Article Topic Follows: News

Jump to comments ↓

KTVZ News Team


KTVZ NewsChannel 21 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content