Tantalus shooting triggers renewed call for tougher laws on - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Tantalus shooting triggers renewed call for tougher laws on replica guns

Capt. Richard Robinson Capt. Richard Robinson
Grant Woo Grant Woo

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The shooting of a suspect on Tantalus Drive by an off-duty FBI agent Sunday has led to a renewed call for tougher laws on replica guns. Police say the man who was shot was armed with an airsoft handgun.

Replica guns look just like real firearms, but are non-lethal. Airsoft gun enthusiasts say they're concerned that Sunday's incident has left a black mark on their sport.

If someone pointed a replica gun at you, how would you react?

"They can be mistaken for a real gun," Grant Woo, Impact Games co-owner, said.

Impact Games sells a variety of airsoft guns, which fire plastic balls and are normally used on special playing fields. The non-lethal handgun is similar to the one that police say Martin Boegel, 27, was using to threaten motorists on Tantalus Drive Sunday.

"Yeah, I knew he had a BB gun," Mike Savage, suspect's neighbor, said Sunday. "Wow."

Police say an off-duty FBI agent, who happened to be in the area, shot Boegel multiple times after he refused to drop his replica gun.

"If you're at a distance, it might be hard to distinguish one from the other, other than the orange front," Woo said. "So it is understandable the way the FBI agent did act."

Woo says each airsoft gun comes with a bright orange tip.

"Whenever we sell a gun or import them into the country, they all have the orange front and that's to help distinguish them as an airsoft gun," he said.

But he can't control what happens after a customer leaves.

Carolyn Carley says when Boegel pointed his gun at her, she thought it was real and didn't notice an orange tip.

"If you're on the other end of it, it really doesn't matter to you whether it's a real gun or a replica gun because the terror and fear that the victim feels is what matters in these cases," Capt. Richard Robinson, Honolulu Police Department, said.

Police say when suspects use replica guns to commit crimes, they should be charged as though they used real firearms. A bill that would allow for that died this past legislative session.

"People do have to act responsibly," Woo said. "They have to think about not only what they're doing but what other people might think they're doing."

Police plan to re-introduce the measure next year.

Honolulu already has an ordinance that prohibits people from displaying their replica guns in public. They must be in bags or cases when being transported.

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