By: Melina Matthes
OMAHA (kptm) - With the help of the Omaha police department, the Douglas county attorney is trying to push a bill through the legislature that could put tougher penalties on crooks using fake guns in crimes.
Don Kleine said the way the firearms law is currently written, is supposed to deter crooks from using guns in crime, but he wants that law to include paint guns, air pistols, squirt guns…any gun that could easily be perceived as a real gun.
"If I'm on the other side of this, I'm not going to ask the person well let me take a closer look at that."
Douglas county attorney Don Kleine said as he showed Fox 42 News a pistol that was used in a recent robbery.
The pistol looks like a firearm. It is the same weight of a handgun, and has the same action as a revolver, but it's actually fake. "I don't know if it's a real gun or not. Any reasonable person would say I'm not going to have you test it on me. I don't want to get shot, so I'm going to give you what you want."
And its toys like this that has him and other prosecutors trying to change the legislature.
Police arrested Omaha teen Mganga Mganga last week for carjacking a woman at gunpoint.
Police said he used an airsoft gun; therefore he will not face a weapons charge.
"It's very frustrating not to be able to do that because obviously the intent of someone when they pull something like this on an individual like happened last week with the carjacking was to terrorize that person and to give them what they want and the fact that no one gets shot doesn't mean we shouldn't be able to charge some charges with using that facsimile firearm or toy gun or whatever it might be in commission of that felony."
Currently in Nebraska, a fake gun isn't a firearm, even when a crook uses it as a weapon to commit a crime and that means prosecutors can't charge them. "We all know what can happen when people, the bad guys, use firearms to commit crimes and whether it's real or not, it's still going to cause many of the same problems."
Nebraska senators have not yet decided on the bill's outcome. It has not come out of committee. The senator who proposed toughening the law on fake guns expects a vote this week.
As the law is written now, if a crook is charged with use or possession of a firearm, prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the gun can fire a real bullet and an explosion occurs, typically with the use of gunpowder.
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