I was looking through my server logs when I noticed that several people had arrived at LearnAboutGuns.com after searching for phrases such as “can i carry a fake gun” or “Illinois fake gun law.” It would seem that these individuals were looking for information on the ramifications of carrying a fake gun. Let me unequivocally say that it is a bad idea to carry a fake gun:
It seems that some people believe that if they cannot lawfully carry a real gun, that they can somehow lawfully carry a fake gun. This is almost never the case. The laws surrounding guns tend to treat fake guns just like real guns, with the touchstone being whether a reasonable person would believe the gun to be real. As this man found out, the fact that the gun was a fake didn’t prevent charges of brandishing a firearm. Similarly, these delivery drivers were arrested for jokingly pointing a water gun at a woman, who though the gun was real. Given the deadly threat that pointing a gun represents, few reasonable people will inquire whether the gun is real or not – and so those who brandish fake guns are rightfully treated the same as those who brandish real guns.
Presumably, the people searching for information on fake guns wanted to carry fake guns in order to scare off would-be criminals. However such a plan seems to be asking for trouble. First, a criminal will likely have a real gun or a real knife, rather than a fake one. A criminal who feels threatened by the fake gun might be more likely to harm the victim, who would be unable to shoot back. Self defense against armed robbers certainly works, but not when the victim’s gun is a fake. Secondly, the police may see the fake gun and open fire, as this (now deceased) man, and this still-living man each learned.