Toy gun arrest raises questions

The arrest of a man who was sitting
under a tree near a West Bay store holding a toy handgun has raised questions
regarding precisely what Cayman’s law states in relation to imitation firearms.

According to a Royal Cayman Islands
Police press release on the 12 July incident; “Police officers responded and
found that the man was in possession of an imitation firearm. He was arrested
and has since been released on police bail.”

Precisely what the 27-year-old man
was arrested for wasn’t specified in the release.

Subsequent calls to the police
produced no further rationale about the offence for which the man was arrested.
He had not been charged as of press time, and a police spokesperson noted that
a case file would be presented to the Attorney General’s office for review once it was completed..

It is a crime in Cayman to use an
imitation weapon in the commission of another offence, such as a robbery. In
many cases, the punishment upon conviction is the same as that for using a real
firearm in the commission of a crime.

However, the sale of toy guns here
is legal and simply possessing one is not an offence in and of itself.

RCIPS officers said the toys can
put police in a difficult situation, and they have said they wish stores
wouldn’t sell them.

“I would urge store owners to think
about what they are selling,” Police Constable Ian Charlery said. “While it may
not be illegal to sell toy guns, we should all be aware that they are so
life-like they could be used for criminal purposes.”

In the 12 July incident, the man
sitting outside the Caribbean Bakery was an adult and Constable Charlery said
there was no way someone could tell the gun he held was a toy.

“The members of the public who
reported this to us yesterday believed it was a real gun and I’m sure that
anyone faced with it during the commission of a robbery would also believe it
to be real,” he said.

West Bay police station commander
Frank Owens said local neighbourhood policing officers would speak to store
owners and others who sell toy weapons in efforts to raise awareness of how
those are sometimes used in criminal acts.

Under the Cayman Islands Penal
Code, an offensive weapon is defined as “any object made or adapted for use for
causing injury to the person or intended by the person having it with him for
such use by him”.

The code also gives police officers
the power to search any person whom they suspect could have a concealed weapon.

Although simple possession of a toy
gun is not an offence, section 154 of the Penal Code allows for nuisances
offences where someone causes “danger or annoyance” to the general public.

Section 158 of the code, referring
to ‘idle and disorderly persons’, also makes it an offence for someone in a
public place who “conducts himself in a manner likely to cause a breach of the
peace”.

“This was…a toy gun and had been
purchased from a local store for just a few dollars,” Constable Charlery said.
“But to the naked eye, it looked like the real thing.”

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5 COMMENTS

  1. For the love of god. Now toy guns are the new evil?!

    Every country in the world has toy guns. Banning toy guns isn’t going to make it easier for police. First off, the police don’t even carry firearms. So when they pull out thier only weapon ‘The verbal response’ for the child with the toy gun, the ‘verbal response’ won’t kill the child.

    As far as armed robberies are concerned. In every country, if you rob a place with a toy or immitation fire arm. It’s considered a real firearm by most police. If someone gets shot robbing a store, while holding a toy gun. Who cares?!. They shouldnt’ have been robbing the store in the first place. Or is the criminal a victim here?

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  2. why is a 27 year old man sitting with a toy gun?
    the public are correct to raise the alarm, so what if it is a false alarm, zero tolerance means safer streets.
    interestingly though retailers as past evidence has shown are more likely to be robbed at "gunpoint", why continue top sell these products for a minuscule profit with the potential for terrifying your staff or someone else?
    ban them.

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  3. NO adult should be running around with a toy gun, simply put they are testing their luck or have bad intentions! If in Public they should be prosecuted as if they had a real handgun barring some other circumstance that should be well validated,gun crime is now rampant in these Island(s) and a stop needs to be put to it quickly, we are falling by the wayside and earning a bad reputation, maybe justful or unjustfully, it needs to be put to a stop and FAST!!! We are running out of time, Like the old Jonny Cash song, "Don’t take your guns to town", be they real or toy "That’s my words"!

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  4. Clearly the goal of the police is to totally demonize even the thought of firearms, except for their own use of those firearms of course. Now, if we could stop such intellectual dishonesty, much progress could be made on reducing the criminal culture plaguing these beautiful Cayman Islands.

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  5. It’s not a problem with all toy guns. The problem is with toy guns that look exactly like real guns. You can produce all the Star Wars laser weapons or even fake guns with bright colours that you want. Just don’t make them look exactly like real guns, and don’t allow anything that looks like a real gun on the island. And it doesn’t help when people have the attitude of "who cares" whether a firearm is used or not. Well, you SHOULD care! It makes a huge difference whether or not guns are used in criminal activity in terms of the likelihood of an innocent person being killed.

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