Northern Constabulary issued this image of replica weapons
Police in the Highlands are regularly dealing with reports of young men carrying and brandishing replica guns, a senior officer has said.
Insp Steve Davren, of Northern Constabulary's firearms section, said officers were making "split second decisions" on whether they were real.
He said the offenders' believed their actions made them look important.
The force said a number of incidents involving fake firearms had been reported in the past few months.
On Monday, two teenagers appearing at Inverness Sheriff Court denied an allegation of possessing imitation hand guns and placing members of the public in city centre streets in a state of fear and alarm.
A trial was set for 14 January and both were granted bail.
Insp Davren said: "We regularly deal with reports that young men are carrying, or indiscriminately brandishing, air and or BB guns in the belief that it makes them look important."
Police said parents had a role to play to ensure their children were not involved.
Insp Davren said: "Some of these weapons, particularly BB guns, look very real and a member of the public will quite rightly feel intimidated and alarmed if they see such weapons being carried in public places.
"Despite the rigorous training our firearms officers receive they could be faced with having to make that split second decision as to whether the gun pointed at them or a member of the public is real or not."
The firearms officer added: "The message is clear. We need people, especially parents, to understand that carrying of these weapons in public could result in a police firearms response."