In November 2014, a rookie police officer in Cleveland, Ohio, shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice while he was playing with a BB gun. The policeman reported that he thought it was the real thing and feared for his life. However, the case remains open with accompanying allegations of racial profiling [source: Izadi and Holley].
Whether BB guns, airsoft, paint guns or simple toys, imitation firearms can turn play into a police matter. U.S. federal law since 1989 has required most toy guns to be outfitted with a bright orange tip on the muzzle or to have a brightly colored body. The boy's gun, which resembled a semiautomatic handgun, did not have these distinctive markings.
This killing was not an isolated incident. In 2007, San Diego police shot a teenaged boy with an imitation revolver in his car. In early 2013, police in Brownsville, Texas, killed a 15-year-old boy brandishing a black BB gun that resembled a Glock firearm [source: Ferriss]. Later that year, a sheriff's deputy in Santa Rosa, Calif., shot and killed a 13-year-old boy walking down the street carrying a replica of an AK-47 [source: Alexander]. Incidences like these make fake guns the most deadly toy of all.