People carrying realistic-looking BB guns in public places are risking a confrontation with armed officers, Kent Police have warned.
It became illegal to carry BB guns in public places last year
In recent months Thanet police have received several reports of people carrying and using soft airguns and imitation firearms in the area.
None sparked an armed call-out, but the force said it feared someone could be hurt or killed.
Some imitations are said to be so good that police struggle to spot fakes.
"Armed police officers are highly trained and skilled people, but some soft airguns and imitation firearms are so realistic looking that they find it hard to tell the difference between them and a real firearm," said Sgt Gordon Etheridge.
He said parents should think twice before letting their children use soft airguns.
"There is no plausible reason for anybody to be carrying these guns in public. They cause fear, particularly in the current climate."
While the purchase of soft airguns is legal, carrying and using airguns in public is not.