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Activist Says Gun-Shaped Phone Cases Could Lead To Deadly Mistakes

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- There was concern Tuesday night, and calls to take smartphone cases that look like handguns off the street, before someone gets hurt.

It looks like a real handgun, but it's actually a cell phone case for an iPhone.

As CBS2's Valerie Castro reported, the cases are causing serious concerns among local law enforcement.

"You pull this thing out on a cop, they're going to shoot you," said former NYPD Officer Joseph Giacalone. "I mean, it's as simple as that."

Community activists such as Tony Herbert have also sounded an alarm.

"It's not a joke. This item is being sold in our communities, we're now researching exactly where," Herbert said.

Herbert put out the stern warning on Tuesday, along with law enforcement agencies like the NYPD's 112th Precinct, which tweeted a message advising people not to buy the case.

It can be easily purchased online, but Giacalone said it's just a bad idea -- even though it isn't illegal.

"There's no law per se, but you have to use the law of common sense, which I've learned in my lifetime isn't very common," Giacalone said.

Giacalone said officers constantly face the unknown and sometimes have only a split second to make a decision against a perceived threat.

"Sometimes mistakes happen. They're only human," he said.

And sometimes the real weapon really does look fake, like a toy.

Recently the NYPD's 23rd Precinct warned it's own officers about a real gun disguised as a water gun.

"Bad guys disguise these guns, they paint them orange, they put the tips on them to try to trick law enforcement," Giacalone said.

As for the novelty cases, Herbert hopes citizens avoid using them altogether and called them nothing less than a death trap.

Herbert said he's hoping for legislation to band the sale and possession of the cases.

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