YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – The investigation of a 12-year-old boy fatally wounded by a Cleveland police officer could take months.
Police said Tamir Rice was carrying a pellet gun that looks similar to a real weapon.
Rick Kaleda is the Northeast Ohio Coordinator for the Buckeye Firearms Association. When it comes to a real handgun versus a fake one, he teaches that there is no difference.
“As far as they are concerned, there is no such thing as a gun that is a toy. If it looks like a gun, it needs to be treated like a gun,” Kaleda said.
Kaleda is a father to two girls, 13-year-old Alexis and 10-year-old Kayla.
“When it comes to education of children, you can’t start early enough. I know with my own children, I taught them the Eddy Eagle Program that the NRA puts out,” Kaleda said.
Alexis knows what to do if she were to come across a gun left unattended.
“That if you see a gun, you stop, don’t touch, leave the area and tell an adult,” she said.
Cleveland police said 12-year-old Tamir Rice pulled an “airsoft”-type pellet gun from his waistband. It did not have the orange safety tip, which makes it hard to distinguish from a real semiautomatic pistol.
Federal law does require imitation guns to at least have an orange plug in the barrel. But, the plugs can be removed or colored over.
Kaleda said safety is the main priority.
“The most important thing that can be stressed is education. Once you take on that responsibility of owning a firearm, you have to make sure that no one can access it that shouldn’t,” he said.