Bahrain cracks down on toy guns
Manama, March 9, 2008
Toy guns which fire real pellets are being used to rob or terrorise people on the streets of Bahrain, say police.
They are launching a nationwide crackdown, ordering the guns off the shelves of shops across the country.
The action follows several reports of thugs robbing people at gunpoint, firing pellets at passers-by, or getting their kicks by frightening people with the guns.
One victim narrowly escaped serious injury when he was hit just below the eye, as he was fired on from a passing vehicle.
There have been incidents of people being robbed of cash or their mobile phones by young thugs armed with real-looking air pistols, on sale for as little BD1 to BD7 ($2.63 to $18.4), said an interior ministry official.
Some shops keep the guns under the counter, but sell them on request.
The Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication, bought one type from a cold store in Tashan, which fires tiny plastic pellets at high velocity.
We sent a 15-year-old boy into the store and he was sold the gun without any questioning.
Its pellets come in a realistic 'magazine' and could apparently be easily replaced with metal ball-bearings, making the airgun even more dangerous.
Community police are now checking shops for the air pistols and telling traders to stop selling them.
Police are also contacting industry and commerce ministry officials to get the guns off the market.
'The community police will take charge of this drive with immediate effect,' said the spokesman.
'We have received several reports that these plastic and metal guns can fire hard plastic pellets for up to 10 metres, with a reasonable amount of force.'
'Store owners will be advised to immediately remove them from their shelves and the commerce and industry ministry will be alerted.'
Some reports have suggested that victims had suffered moderate to severe injuries, said the spokesman. 'This will not be allowed,' he said.
The main responsibility for enforcing any ban on the sale of such products lies with the ministry, but the police will get involved if a law and order situation develops, said the spokesman.
A GDN reader earlier wrote in that he was hit just below the eye and in the legs when he was fired at from a passing vehicle as he walked from Zinj to Salmaniya last Sunday.TradeArabia News Service