You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks


Welcome to

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on

breaking news

UPDATE: Tornado warning canceled for Palm Beach County; danger not over yet

Cerabino: Boynton boys find guns too real for their own good

The big local news this week could have very easily been about the tragic deaths of two kids in Boynton Beach.

The two boys, ages 10 and 12, skipped school Monday, opting instead to point realistic looking BB guns at passing cars on Miner Road and Ocean Parkway.

When police arrived, the boys threw down the guns — their first good decision of the afternoon — and ran until they were snagged a block away, according to police.

One of the officers later said that it wasn’t clear that the black handguns the boys had been holding were fake until he got close enough to the discarded guns to read the writing on the barrels.

We’ve seen this play out differently, and horrifically, in other jurisdictions.

The black BB guns the Boynton kids carried didn’t look very different from the Daisy Powerline 340 BB gun that a Baltimore teenager, Dedric Colvin had in his hand last April when passing police detectives confused the teen’s BB gun for a semi-automatic firearm.

Colvin, a 13-year-old eighth grader, didn’t drop the BB gun when the detectives stopped. Instead, he ran with the BB gun in his hand, and a detective shot and wounded the boy in the leg and shoulder during the foot chase.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said it was understandable why the detectives thought the BB gun was a lethal firearm.

“I looked at it myself today, I stood right over top of it, I put my own eyes on it,” Davis told The Baltimore Sun. “It’s an absolute, identical replica semiautomatic pistol. Those police officers had no way of knowing that it was not, in fact, an actual firearm.”

Colvin survived. Tamir Rice, 12, in Cleveland didn’t. Rice was shot and killed two years ago when a city police officer mistook the pellet gun in the boy’s hand for a firearm.

And two months ago, Tyre King, a 13-year-old boy in Columbus, Ohio, with a BB gun designed to look like a Smith & Wesson Military & Police semiautomatic pistol, was shot and killed by a police officer who was chasing him on foot.

If the boys in Boynton Beach this week were waving around toy guns, and not air-powered BB guns, their toy weapons would have been required to have orange-colored caps on the barrels that identify them as harmless.

But the bright orange tips aren’t required on BB guns, which are intentionally designed to resemble popular brands of lethal firearms and can be purchased online or in local sporting goods stores for as little as $30.

And because BB guns don’t use an explosive charge, they’re not considered firearms by federal law.

Their use falls under the purview of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which recommends that children under 16 should not use the guns and that “these guns should never be aimed at another person.”

With federal regulations largely absent, nearly half the states have taken it upon themselves to create their own laws regarding BB guns.

Florida is one of them.

Florida law prohibits minors under the age of 16 from possessing “BB guns, air or gas-operated guns, or electric weapons or devices” unless these minors are “under the supervision and in the presence of an adult who is acting with the consent of the minor’s parent.”

And adults who allow their children under 16 to use a BB gun unsupervised in Florida are subject to a misdemeanor criminal charge.

Florida hasn’t gone as far as Rhode Island, which classifies all air guns as firearms, and prohibits felons from possessing air pistols or air rifles.

New Jersey takes the extra step of requiring a permit for buyers of air guns. And possessing a BB gun without a permit can be punishable by up to three years in prison in that state.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that about four people a year are killed in the United States by pellet guns.

But that figure doesn’t account for the dangers faced when they are confused by police officers or other lawful gun-carrying citizens as deadly firearms.

Two boys in Boynton Beach found that out this week.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

BREAKING: More the 14,000 homes without power in Palm Beach County
BREAKING: More the 14,000 homes without power in Palm Beach County

More than 14,000 households in Palm Beach County are without power as a line of severe thunderstorms continues to move through the area. A severe thunderstorm warning remains in effect until 2:45 a.m., according the National Weather Service. As of 2 a.m., there were more than 2,000 power outages along PGA Boulevard, west of Palm Beach Gardens...
UPDATE: Missing deaf, mute woman found unharmed
UPDATE: Missing deaf, mute woman found unharmed

Update, 11:45 p.m.: Dasha Matthews has been found unharmed, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said Sunday night. Original story: A deaf and mute woman went missing Sunday afternoon, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said. Dasha Matthews, 26, was last seen near the Napleton car dealership on Northlake Boulvard west of Congress...
NEW: Five injured in Boynton shooting include boy celebrating birthday
NEW: Five injured in Boynton shooting include boy celebrating birthday

Police released the names of four adults and a boy on the eve of his sixth birthday who were shot Saturday night as they were gathered outside a home on Northeast Second Street. None of them suffered life-threatening injuries, according to authorities. Sunday, Boynton Beach police continued to search for the shooter or shooters. Detectives said they...
Luke Bryan to perform national anthem at Super Bowl
Luke Bryan to perform national anthem at Super Bowl

He’s set to perform the national anthem at the Super Bowl on Feb. 5. This marks the first time Luke has performed at the big game and he’s understandably beside himself with excitement. Luke told People there was never a doubt he would take on this gig. When the NFL made the big request, Luke said, “Hell yes, I’ll...
Trump calls Georgia Gov. after deadly storms
Trump calls Georgia Gov. after deadly storms

President Donald Trump on Sunday called Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal to offer condolences about the deadly storms that have swept through the state.  Trump described the tornadoes as vicious and powerful during remarks in the East Room of the White House during his second full day in office, according tot he Associated Press.  CNN reported that...
More Stories