By Beth Germano

BOSTON (CBS) – There’s a new push in Massachusetts to help police identify real guns from replicas they say are posing a danger to law enforcement and the public. At a State House hearing Reverend Jeffrey Brown held up an imitation Glock 9 pistol saying it looks like any weapon a police officer may carry.

Police say they are making split second decisions when it comes to these weapons. “If you look at the guns, feel them, and pick them up you can’t distinguish the difference,” said Boston Police Commissioner Bill Evans.

It’s what confronted police in Cleveland where 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot and killed by an officer as he waved a toy gun. “We do not want what happened in Cleveland to happen here,” said Boston State Representative Dan Cullinane, who is sponsoring legislation that close what he says are loopholes in federal regulations.

Federal law only covers toy guns and requires they be plugged with an orange tip. But the bill being considered by Beacon Hill lawmakers would include BB guns, pellet guns and air rifles. It would require they be labeled with one inch, non-removable orange strips on all sides to clearly differentiate them from the real thing.

Commissioner Evans says he sees the danger on a daily basis. “We had someone pull a gun and someone actually shoot a person who thought the gun was real. There’s a lot of drama on the streets because of these fake guns,” he said.

Last year alone, Boston Police confiscated 174 of the so-called replicas. But critics argue that criminals could easily alter real guns to make them look fake. “The mindset of throwing up hands and doing nothing because someone might do something else. Inaction is the only course we can’t take given the nature of what’s going on,” said Representative Cullinane.

Beth Germano

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