- Associated Press - Sunday, October 12, 2014

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) - A state lawmaker says he wants to explore potential ways to help first responders tell the difference between weapons and toy guns following the fatal shooting of a man by police inside an Ohio Wal-Mart this summer.

Republican Rep. Rick Perales of Beavercreek told The Dayton Daily News (http://bit.ly/1EujwsO) that he is open to ideas about preventing incidents like the Aug. 5 shooting in his hometown.

“Any way that we can help emergency responders to readily discern a toy versus a weapon, should be something we are looking into,” Perales said.

A special grand jury in the racially charged case has decided that the Beavercreek police officers’ actions were justified. Police responded to a 911 call that a man was waving what appeared to be a rifle. Officers have said John Crawford III, who was black, was shot after he didn’t respond to repeated commands to drop his weapon.

It turned out to be an air rifle. Crawford, 22, had been talking on a cellphone and carrying the air rifle he picked up from a shelf as he walked through the store.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. says pellet guns have been pulled from shelves at the Beavercreek store near Dayton.

The newspaper reports that there are no state regulations for the use and sale of air rifles, BB guns and others that resemble deadly rifles. Federal rules require airsoft guns - which are different from air rifles - to be sold with an orange tip to avoid confusion with real guns. But that regulation does not apply to BB or pellet guns.

Republican Rep. Wes Retherford of Hamilton called the Wal-Mart incident in Beavercreek an “isolated” event. He said the private sector should decide how to package and sell such merchandise.

“If we’re going to start locking everything up that poses a potential risk, that would be a lot more items locked up than just a BB gun,” Retherford told the newspaper. “Eventually, you’re going to be locking up everything in the store.”

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Information from: Dayton Daily News, http://www.daytondailynews.com

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