Owning a BB gun is often considered a rite of passage, at least among male children. Immortalized in the 1983 film A Christmas Story, these toys are more popular than ever some 30 years later.
But are they really toys?
In November, 2014, the Washington Post reported that 12-year-old Tamir Rice was gunned down by Cleveland Police, who mistook his "toy" for an actual firearm.
This was a brutal and tragic followup to the shooting of Michael Brown, whose story captured headlines for a good part of 2014.
While Michael Brown had actually attacked Officer Darren Wilson and was going for his gun, his death coupled with Rice's cast large dispersions on men and women in blue across the country.
"Too many trigger happy cops eager to shoot first and ask questions later," pretty much summarizes the criticisms that were leveled at police officers from one end of the country to the other. But now a side-by-side comparison captured on camera has some rethinking their criticisms.
Little is known about the officer in the image below. Just that his name is Lofgren, and he works for the Colorado Springs Police Department. For the purpose of this article, it's not really important. What is important is the fact that the BB gun and actual firearm he's holding are almost indistinguishable.
On a computer that's capable of blowing up a hi-res image, you might be able to guess which one is harmless and which one is deadly, but many police supporters believe it would be another story entirely if you were out on the street investigating a potential hazard, and you had only a few seconds to make a decision that could potentially save your life as well as the lives of innocent bystanders.
When this photo took off on reddit Wednesday and reached the top of the front page, many commenters were stunned.
"I'm so glad I'm not a cop. What a tough job," said one commenter. "I honestly can't tell which one is real," said another. "Why are manufacturers even permitted to make these BB guns? What ever happened to the orange tip [which is supposed to go on the end -- it was missing in the Tamir Rice shooting]?"
As of Wednesday night, there were more than 1,400 other comments, most of which expressed serious discernment as to whether there were any differences externally between the two guns.
What do you think, readers? Should manufacturers be banned from making such a realistic looking BB gun, and does this change your perception of the decision-making process that a police officer has to use before deciding to use deadly force?