Airsoft Replicas and the Approximate Value of Nuttiness

A few years ago, a friend—okay, a girlfriend, but, surprisingly, not a blonde; a university professor, in fact, not a person incapable of logical reasoning, or so you might imagine—argued that the point of self-defense was…well, self-defense. To make a threat disappear, go away.

First, she believed that police should never shoot for center-of-mass (she called it shoot-to-kill), but should instead shoot a person’s legs or knees. (Heard that before?) She did not believe in killing, not even people who do bad things.

Her second point was that making a threat go away meant only that, in most cases, you simply had to show a gun and the bad guy—usually, she insisted, just some neighborhood kid—would flee. There was just no reason, she said, to hurt a child who “had their whole life in front of them.”

I could not convince her of the appropriateness of self-defense options and she refused to visit the shooting range because, she frankly admitted, she “didn’t like guns.” Too bad. At the range, I believed I could demonstrate how difficult it was to shoot the legs on a non-moving target, and thus extrapolate, ask that she use her educated imagination to complicate the situation by simulating a tense and sudden encounter.


A few years ago, two young men—ages 22 and 19—held up a Dollar General store in Jacksonville, Florida. The 22-year-old carried a handgun. Actually, his handgun was a CO2-powered BB gun, but he didn’t walk into the store, confront the man at the cash register and shout, “This is a robbery! Give me your money, but I won’t hurt you. It’s only a BB gun.” The gun looked real.

Actually, he shouted something like, “This is a robbery! Give me your money or I’ll kill you!”

A citizen—licensed, armed, trained—confronted the robbers. “Drop the gun.”

Of course, you know what happened. The kid with the gun swung on the armed citizen, who placed two .45 caliber rounds center mass. The 19-year-old runs, but is soon apprehended, turned in by his family!

There are two morals to this story, and possibly many more. One, that you should never take a toy to do stick-up—no BB gun to terrorize the neighborhood. And two, ain’t nothing inside a Dollar General store worth dying for, even the cash—it’s a “dollar store,” for heaven’s sake, not Macy’s or the First National Bank.

For responders and for citizens who refuse to roll over and die when requested to do so, citizens who refuse to hand over their worldly treasures to an insolent stranger, the inability to distinguish between true firearms and spot-on airsoft replicas is a problem.

From a few yards away—especially if there is confusion or bad weather, and without perfect vision—a CO2-powered GAMO PT-80 looks exactly like James Bond’s Walther PPK sub-compact. Crosman’s C-11 air pistol looks like a Glock.

Umarex even brands its steel, looks-and-feels-absolutely-real air pistols and air soft pistols by company—with the logos! All a kid needs to do is paint the orange tip and, Bingo!, he has a bona fide Ruger P345 or Colt Defender.

With a split second to make a decision…well, we know what must be done to protect ourselves and our family, even if a university professor—not a blonde, mind you—requires a committee, peer review, and a Federal grant. Extrapolate this, girlfriend!

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