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Bill to Regulate Toy Guns Advances in CA Senate
by Justice for Andy Lopez
Wednesday Jan 22nd, 2014 11:59 PM
SANTA ROSA, CA – Legislation authored by Senators Kevin De Leόn (D-Los Angeles) and Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa) to regulate the appearance of toy, imitation or “copycat” guns passed out of its first policy committee on January 14 with a 4-1 vote. In an effort to stem a reoccurring tragedy involving toys being mistaken for real firearms Senate Bill 199, the Imitation Firearm Safety Act, would amend California law to define what an imitation firearm is and what those imitations must look like to differentiate real guns from fake guns. Currently, toy guns such as airsoft and bb guns are not included in California’s legal definition of imitation weapons.
“Children want to play with toys,” said Senator Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa) a joint author of the legislation. “A toy should look like a toy and not a lethal weapon. Currently these copycat toys are manufactured to be virtually indistinguishable from real firearms. Toys should not get a child killed.”

Last October in Santa Rosa, 13-year-old Andy Lopez was tragically shot and killed by a Sheriff Deputy who believed the airsoft gun he was carrying was a real AK-47. In December, Senators De Leόn and Evans committed to introduce a bill to require all BB, pellet and airsoft guns to have their entire exterior surfaces painted a bright color.

“In a stressful situation where it’s a question of using deadly force, police officers are not going to be able to get close enough for a detailed inspection,” said Senator De Leόn. “These toy guns need some sort of marking that will make them harder to mistake for real firearms.”

A 1990 study commissioned by the Department of Justice found that there are more than 200 incidents per year in which imitation guns are mistaken for real firearms.

According to law enforcement, one of the primary dangers posed by imitation firearms is that such guns are used by children and young adults who may not comprehend the seriousness of displaying them around unsuspecting law enforcement officers or around other armed individuals. As a result, officers and community residents can find themselves in precarious situations when they are unable to distinguish imitation guns from handguns and assault weapons.

In a similar incident in 2010, a teenager was accidentally shot by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) who misidentified the replica gun he was carrying. The teenager and two of his friends were playing that evening in the middle of a dark street shooting pellets at one another with fake handguns. When the two LAPD officers stopped to investigate, the boys ran away, but one produced a pellet gun that the LAPD officers mistook for a real handgun. A LAPD officer who feared for his life shot the teenager in self-defense. The pellet gun looked identical to a real gun and it even had the exact dimensions of a Beretta 92F.

As a result of this accidental shooting, SB 798 (De León) was introduced in 2011 in collaboration with Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck to require distinguishing colors on BB guns. This measure would have allowed law enforcement to effectively discriminate between imitation and real firearms. Though the measure failed passage in the Assembly Public Safety Committee, SB 1315 (De León) was signed by Governor Brown last year to allow cities within the County of Los Angeles to enact local ordinances more restrictive than state law regulating the manufacture, sale, possession, or use of any BB device, toy gun, or replica of a firearm that substantially similar to existing firearms (Statutes of 2012, Chapter 214).

State Senator Noreen Evans represents the Second Senatorial District, including all or portions of the Counties of Humboldt, Lake, Mendocino, Marin (caretaker), Napa, Solano and Sonoma. Senator Evans chairs the Senate Committee on Judiciary.

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Teach peace
Thursday Jan 23rd, 2014 7:58 AM
All toy guns and all war toys should be banned. Shooting anything is not entertaining. War is not entertainment. It is long overdue that parents be told to teach children peace. Further, childhood ends at age 10. There is no reason for any toys after age 10. If we had a serious school system, the pampering would end at age 10, and as is in many countries, at age 11, 12, 13, children would learn algebra, geometry, trigonometry and biology, chemistry, physics, so that they can specialize in high school. Biology must include basic human healthcare, first aid and sex education. They also would have their first foreign language at age 7 and their second at age 10 with opportunity to take advanced foreign language every year thereafter; geography would be required before age 14; civics including knowledge of the US Constitution and its amendments would be required before age 14 as it was in the 1960s; Shakespeare would be part of every English literature course from age 12 through age 17, and English literature would be required every year from ages 12 through 17 as it was in the 1960s; that same English literature course would include public speaking, poetry, short story, novels, classical Greek and Roman literature and modern drama, every year from ages 12 through 17 as it was in the 1960s. American, European, Asian and African history, including art and music history, should be required to be learned before graduating from high school.
by Airsoft Player
Thursday Jan 23rd, 2014 5:59 PM
I play airsoft in rural California. We have fun shooting at each other, but we are responsible adults. We have a set code of actions if and when law enforcement shows up. This has happened and there were no problems because we did not brandish them as if they were real. Banning airsoft guns is not the solution. Parents need to educate their children and cops need to be a little less trigger happy when it comes to shooting children.
by Beeline
Friday Jan 24th, 2014 6:22 PM
A BB gun or lead firing pellet gun is not a toy. There are modern pellet guns that could seriously wound or even kill a human. There are also a number of hard projectile firing air guns designed to be replicas of cartridge firing weapons.

I feel that the overall objective should be to instill a solid learned behavior of respect for weapons and living beings. The legislation being offered appears to be designed to allow the manufacturers to continue selling replica guns while doing little to protect the community at large. It also sounds flawed in that cartridge arms could also be painted by the user to look like "toys" adding to the confusion.

The reality is that if a person, young or old, points something that looks like a weapon at a police officer they should expect trouble. Most side arm carrying officers are trained to quickly look at what is in the hands of a suspect-if it looks like a gun-there is a good chance that the suspect will be shot. The officer is not going to wait around to see if it is a toy.