NEW ORLEANS — Law enforcement officials in Lafourche Parish warned people Monday about the dangers of replica pistols, especially when used by children.

Lafourche Parish Sheriff Deputies were called Thursday to an area in Thibodaux where children were firing airsoft guns at each other. The airsoft guns were the kind made to look like actual guns.

In a press release, Lafourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre told the public that airsoft guns were dangerous because they can easily be mistaken for real ones.

“It is important that parents and children fully understand the risks involved with using these types of pistols because they are built to be replicas of actual firearms,” Webre said. “A deputy nor a citizen would be able to tell the difference in a split-second when one is pointed at them. We are urging citizens to refrain from using these in public settings and to modify the pistol so that it does not look like an actual firearm.”

In 2014, twelve-year-old Tamir Rice was shot by police in Cleveland after officers mistook a toy gun for a real one.

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On New Year's Day in California, police shot and killed a man after he pointed a what looked like a firearm at them.

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In 2017 at Raceland schools and in 2019 in Thibodaux schools, students had these airsoft guns, the press release said.

Previously, Webre said these replicas were just toys, but he addressed that in the press release.

“The belief that an airsoft pistol is a ‘toy’ is misguided at best,” Webre said. “Aside from the obvious concern about brandishing one in the presence of others, injuries can occur when striking someone with a BB. Direct impact to an eye or another sensitive part of the body could cause serious injury.”

People who shoot and hit others with a BB from an airsoft gun are subject to criminal charges including aggravated battery with a dangerous weapon.

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