Gun shipment under investigation
Customs officials at the Port of Tacoma seized a shipment of 30 pellet guns that officials say could have been modified into machine guns.
An investigation is under way after U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers discovered the Airsoft guns Feb. 8 in a suspicious-looking container. The shipment, labeled “Toys and Parts,” was worth about $10,000 and arrived at the port in October from a manufacturer in Taiwan, Customs and Border Protection spokesman Doug McBride said.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives determined that the rifles were equipped to shoot plastic balls but could be converted into machine guns firing live ammunition.
“You couldn’t tell by weight or feel” that the guns were fake, ATF spokeswoman Cheryl Bishop said. “Most people would be hard-pressed to tell the difference, and that’s why we were so concerned.”
The metal pellet guns had the same size, weight and appearance of an M-4 automatic rifle, the weapon used by the U.S. military. The rifles did not have serial numbers on them, as real guns would, but they also did not have the orange-blaze tip required for all imported toy guns.
“You could slide a magazine in there. They load and charge very realistically, very much like the real thing,” Bishop said.
The ATF also determined that the shipment did not arrive with the proper permits to enter the United States. The guns will be destroyed.