Jasper County authorities responded to a call in the Westlake community on FM Road 2800 west of Jasper on Jan. 2. According to the Jasper County Sheriff's Office, the caller said there were teens walking with guns.
It was later found that the guns were not real. Once upon a time, kids played cops and robbers with toy guns and watched cartoons with heavy gun play.
"We played cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians. We played all those kinds of games when we were little" said Donny Davis, an East Texas parent.
"We used to play with guns, you know like dollar store Walmart guns, pretend to shoot each other," said Ashley Nullin, another parent.
Today's attitudes towards these very games has taken a turn.
"Unfortunately, with everything that is going on these days, it might not be just the safest thing to do," said Sgt. Casper of the Lufkin Police Department.
After a Cleveland police officer fatally shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice while he played with a toy gun in a park, East Texas parents say they are more hesitant to let their children play those same games that were okay years ago.
"Things we used to do, they think their kids are okay doing that, but they're not," Nullin said.
Law enforcement officials said that in a split second, it could be very difficult to tell the difference between a real gun and a toy gun.
"Not only do the fake guns look realistic; unfortunately people are doing things to make the real guns look fake," Casper said.
Toy and BB guns used to have an orange tip around the ends. Now, those are easily removed or left off all together. This makes it even more difficult for kids to safely play with guns.
Toy guns modeled as Smith and Wesson pistols can be found in local department stores. I asked East Texans if they could tell my play gun was a toy. Most said it resembled a Springfield XDM.
"We want to have more supervision than we would have in the past," Casper said.
Officials said, if you do decide let your kids take a shot at traditional games, do so with caution.
"It could cause a normal situation to go bad really quickly," Casper said.
Casper's biggest suggestion is if you do let your kids play with toy guns, make sure they are left at home.
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