Airsoft guns are hardcore
Apparently airsoft guns or small pellet air-powered firearms are being mistaken by St. Paul police for the real thing. This growing problem was large enough to prompt Mayor Coleman to ask that the large sports goods store, Gander Mountain, to pull the replicas from their shelves. Coleman held a press conference and asked attendants to identify out of 21 firearms which were real and which were airsoft models. My article appeared in the Pioneer Press, http://www.twincities.com/mld/twincities/16628670.htm.
A challenge in this story is finding statistics for what appears to be a new trend. For example how often do the police confuse these replicas for the real thing, what are the repercussions for that confusion. The author does note that revenue from airsoft guns is only a year old, "Gander Mountain sold $3.5 million worth of airsoft products in 2005, the most recent full year for which figures are available," according to the Pioneer Press article.
I chose to compare this article with the Star Tribune verion, http://www.startribune.com/462/story/982248.html
This piece reads like a wire story, it is shorter and without context, for instance the author does not define an airsoft guns. The one thing I like about this story is the author's treatment of the press conference, he does a better job in describing the Mayor's real or not game. I think this is probably the most interesting part of the story, because it illuminates the difficulty for police in identifying an airsoft gun from it's lethal counterpart.
I think if the Pioneer Press article had lead with the Mayor's press conference it would have been a much better story. To me that is the most interesting, I think it is timely crux of this new issue. Also Gander Mountain is not the only chain store selling airsoft guns. Cabelas is a much larger sporting goods store and probably makes more money off these guns than Gander Mountain does, so the blow to their pocketbooks is probably more profound.