(COLUMBUS) - The Columbus City Council passed an ordinance Tuesday night banning minors from displaying pellet guns on public property.
Columbus Police Chief Jason Maddix says the passing of the ordinance is a great relief for him and his officers. Maddix says that in the last several months, his department has received numerous calls of people with a gun, some pointing it at other people or vehicles, or just waving it around. He says failing to address this issue would have eventually resulted in a tragedy.
When police receive these calls, Myers says the department mobilizes under the assumption that the gun is real. He says that officers have to make "split-second decisions" that often mean the difference between life or death. To not at least try to correct this problem, he says, was not an option.
Maddix added that besides a police action shooting, there was also the very real threat that a resident legally carrying a firearm might mistake someone pointing a toy gun for a real one and shoot to kill.
The ordinance also bars everyone from discharging these types of toys within city limits and bans the alteration to make them look more like real firearms. This includes painting the toy or placing black electrical tape over parts that were manufactured orange.
Myers says that Columbus is leading the state when it comes to measures such as this. "We could not find any other municipalities that had a similar ordinance," he said. However, Maddix said there are other areas across the country that have implemented similar measures.
The final vote for passage of the ordinance was 6 to 0. At-Large Councilman Aaron Hankins was not in attendance at Tuesday night's meeting.
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