The BB gun in the local sporting goods ad looked just like a 9mm Glock semi-automatic handgun — which has the potential to be quite lethal.

And when Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood saw it Wednesday, the uncanny resemblance of the air gun with the Glock 17 didn’t sit well with him.

The air pistol may not be a real gun, the sheriff said on a Facebook comment he posted Wednesday morning, but it could “get your kid in serious jeopardy.”

A strong supporter of the Second Amendment, Youngblood nonetheless isn't shy about providing a lawman's perspective for parents who might be considering purchasing a replica-style BB gun for their child.

"From a law enforcement standpoint, we see the danger," Youngblood said.

"Obviously, it's constructed to be an exact replica of the real thing," he said. "It strikes me as not a great idea for parents to buy their children something like that."

The tragedies that have occurred across the country as a result of confusion between real and the fake guns are the sort that leave families devastated — and police officers scarred for a lifetime. 

In one of the most well-known incidents, 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot to death in Cleveland in 2014 by a rookie officer who saw a realistic toy gun and believed it to be a real threat. The youngster was drawing the toy gun from his waistband when he was shot.

According to a study by The Washington Post, done in conjunction with journalism students from American University, 86 people in the U.S. were shot and killed while carrying fake guns in 2015 and 2016. Four of those were children and 38 of the dead suffered from mental illness.

"Thirteen (guns) were replicas, two were toys, one was a starter pistol and one was a lighter," the newspaper reported.

In recent years, lawmakers across the country have pushed for stricter regulations on the design of nonlethal guns. Legislators in California passed a law, effective in 2016, that requires toy guns to be visually distinguishable from real weapons. The toys must be painted a bright color, or be affixed with visible florescent strips.

But not all BB guns have these markings.

By 6 p.m. Wednesday, Youngblood's post had more than 200 comments, those who were in complete agreement with his note of caution to others who suggested it smacked of government restriction.

The Californian asked readers on Facebook whether they would buy a replica BB handgun like the one pictured in the ad for a child or young adult.

"No way," commented Tim Stonelake.

"Absolutely not!" echoed Keith Hall.

Teri Jones asked, "Why put this in a child’s hands?"

Timothy William commented that his son saw a similar ad and said he wanted one.

"I said no way," he added. "It looks way too much like a real Glock. If you point that at a cop, or anyone with a gun, they would likely shoot because it looks really real."

Sylvia Cariker harkened back to more innocent times. "Never! Ever!" she said. "Whatever happened to using two fingers and making shooting noises with your mouth?"

Youngblood suggested being an advocate for gun rights doesn't mean abandoning one's common sense.

"No one is stronger on the Second Amendment than me," he said.

But manufacturing BB guns to look exactly like Glocks or other lethal handguns?

"That seems to be on the edge of absurdity to me."

Steven Mayer can be reached at 661-395-7353. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter: @semayerTBC.

(31) comments


Although I agree with the Sheriffs sentiment, aren't people brandishing real guns a much bigger problem? There are a lot less kids carrying play or BB guns than in my day when every kid played army or Cowboys and Indians. Cops didn't get trigger happy because I had my Daisy with me. Nowadays you can be a kid in your own bedroom and get shot by a trigger happy cop.

I too am for the right to bear arms, I just think background checks and restrictions on what you can have are in order. You can argue all day about where to draw the line, but there HAS to be a line. Unless you're going to make that line plastic oranged tipped Mattel models


100% agree with Sheriff Youngblood.


Many more kids and adults die from "real" guns, but who cares.


Thanks for "doing the right thing" by explaining the obvious may just save lives of our children. With that said, there are always criminals that could paint and camouflage weapons. Just as procedures changed with officers that now have to advance towards active shooters in schools, officers will have to use restraint with minors when what appears to be guns, unless the minor is an active shooter. Fire fighter run into the flames, not away, military pause at civilians when in doubt. We all need to work harder. As a kid, we use to run up and down allies with BB guns and we still had Co2 pellet guns that looked like a Colt 45. When one of use got out of hand, Police Officers did not need facial recognition back then, they were assigned in areas they patrolled long enough to identify at least your last name and where you lived.


A friend and I were discussing earlier the aspect of foot patrol in neighborhoods. I can see the cons, but also a lot of good.


I totally agree with our Sheriff!


Why would anyone, assuming they love their children, provide them with a replica of a deadly weapon to play with? Why not tie a pork chop around his neck and send him on safari? You're giving him the potential for a lot worse than shooting his eye out.


Why would anyone, assuming they love them, provide anyone with a gun ?


If there is no difference to you between responsible, adult ownership of a gun and providing a look alike toy for a child to point at someone then any explanation would be wasted.


Why don't you try?


Very well. At the risk of using time that might be better spent washing my car in anticipation of tomorrows predicted rain, I'll give it a shot (no pun intended). A person might give a gun to a loved one for the purpose of personal protection.


If you want to give the gift of safety to someone, then give them a community of low crime, healthy clean streets and education.

Guns obtain none of the above.


You're right, guns don't ensure safety. They are only a tool for a better chance. In the same way a community of low crime still has crime even if the odds are better.


Guns aren't a tool for a better chance. The days of play toy guns are over. The days of protecting oneself from bears, wild cats, etc are over also. So unless you're determined to stay in the "gang" mentally , keeping guns around is unnecessary. Guns attract guns.

There nothing safe about kids, wives or men with weapons .

Hope men are becoming more consumer wise and not falling into commercialism of these products. Fear is a great tool to sell unnecessary things.


It's not easy keeping up with your tangents and non sequiturs. No one is saying kids should have guns. In fact the whole premise here is that kids should not have realistic looking toy guns. And owning a gun does not cause a "gang mentality". Neither do guns attract guns. Guns repel guns in the sense that the potential criminal will have cause to think twice before committing the crime if he thinks his intended victim may be armed. Then he is more likely to choose a target who thinks guns are an unnecessary evil. But that's your right--if you don't want a gun, don't have a gun.

Gene Pool Chlorinator

Yeah, I've been to that community- it's called Fantasy Land.

Keeping honest law-abiding citizens gun free will not remove guns from the hands of the criminal element.

I choose to protect my family if (God forbid) the need ever arises- I can only pray you are never put into a similar situation...


The difference between you or a family member with a gun and a criminal with a gun is none.

Police officer only sees a person with a gun.


And just as important, what are you trying to protect? Your t.v ? You have nothing criminals want except your guns. Drugs and guns.

The chance of your family being killed in a car is greater than home invasion, unless you have a safe of weapons that the " criminal " wants also.

So stop pretending you're doing anything noble.

Gene Pool Chlorinator

I can't even follow your thought process on this Lilyrose- insinuating there's no difference between me (an honest law abiding citizen protecting my family) and a criminal is intellectual laziness and ignorance at its finest.

It's also apparent you know nothing about the criminal element and just have Moms Demand talking points from your daily emails.

Here's a news flash- criminals want more than just drugs and guns. Do just a little research and you'll see. I'm sure you know how to use Google- if not, let me know and I'll give you some links to uniform crime statistics (hint, hint)...


Does that mean I can't regift my Johnny Seven rifle from 1965?

Besides kid, you'll shoot your eye out!


I agree with the Sheriff

Patricia Edna

He’s absolutely right. There’s no reason for a BB gun like that at all.


Remember back when police didn’t shoot people because they “thought” they “might” be armed? Had a 1950s cop shot a kid with a BB gun, he would have first been ridiculed like crazy, fired, and ran out of town. Maybe we should stop allowing cops to shoot people because they're scared. We can’t do it, neither should they. You take on a certain element of risk as a police officer, or at least you used to. Now it’s shoot first, investigate yourself, and be on your merry way. Good grief. A kid can’t have a BB gun anymore without the sheriff sending out warnings? Smh.

Patricia Edna

You’re comparing 1950s America with the environment of America today? Come on.


Thanks for proving my point.

Patricia Edna

What point is that? Criminals are more brazen and lack respect for law enforcement, making their job exponentially more difficult? People encourage disrespect for law enforcement as a whole rather than following general rules of society? You didn’t really have a point, we both know it.


"we can't do it, neither should they." Three points to thattryguy.




I am in total agreement with him on this.

All Star

Two days ago, in Wisconsin, an officer shot a high school student, in class, after the student pointed a pellet gun at him. I guess this reporter missed that.


Many people have died over those stupid toys

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