last week, news outlets around the US reported what seemed like an “only in Florida” story: workers of a charity op-shop in the state found a grenade launcher in a donation shipment, complete with a live grenade. More scepticism was warranted, however, as keen-eyed readers (and authorities themselves) later determined the device is nothing more than a big boy pellet gun.
According to a story by the Associated Press picked up by numerous news sites, what police described as “a grenade launcher, loaded with a live grenade” was discovered in a Sarasota Goodwill. It was reportedly sent along by employees at another store location who “didn’t know what it was”.
At first glance, the device does resemble a M203 grenade launcher, designed to mount under the barrel of various rifles. But the the mounting mechanism differs from the one found on a standard M203, and the “live grenade” itself appears to be an airsoft round built to hold plastic pellets, not an actual 40mm grenade.
— ABC Action News (@abcactionnews) February 1, 2018
Speaking to Gizmodo, a Manatee County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson confirmed that the device is an airsoft gun. Thankfully, even the threat of ouch-y welts has been neutralised: The AP reports that the launcher was placed in an evidence room and the toy grenade secured in a hazmat locker.
It’s still unclear who donated the items, but both grenade launchers and toys that look like grenade launchers are legal to own in the US. The former, however, is classified as a “destructive device” under federal law (as are grenades), making civilian ownership difficult and a poor choice for donation in even the most charitable circumstances.