When I was 15, I bought a starter’s pistol. It was a full-sized revolver, and fired .22 caliber blanks. The barrel was blocked, so it couldn’t fire real bullets (and I doubt the chamber was strong enough to handle a real cartridge), but you couldn’t tell that unless you were looking straight into it. And this was before they had to put orange tips on all fake guns so, it looked exactly like a real .22 revolver. So cool!
We were 15 and terribly naive, and maybe downright stupid. So my friends and I took what we were thinking was just a loud cap gun and went walking down the main street of our town – a shootin’ ! And we shot the thing “at” each other. Bang! Bang! Not only did it look like a real pistol, it sounded like one, too! Loud as hell.
We were maybe a block from the police station, the whole time.
We turned the corner off the main street and onto our side street, walked about 50 feet and were suddenly boxed-in by two police cars that had silently appeared out of nowhere. We were pretty lousy kids, so this wasn’t our first meeting with the cops. But when the cops got out of their cars this time, their hands were on their guns. They asked me for the gun. So I reached into my inside pocket to get it. They told me to hold still, and one of them reached in and took the pistol out of my coat. Once they saw it wasn’t real, they relaxed. They asked us where our houses were and we pointed them out. Then they took each of us home and told our parents what we were doing. None of us got in any real trouble, but I never got my pistol back.
This was 1986.
I think of this now because I’m trying to figure out how that situation would turn out for a white teenager today. I’m pretty sure I know how it would turn out for a black teenager.