Note: today's guest post addressing SB 1315, a bill in LA County that seeks to mandate bright color schemes for all airsoft and BB guns to make them 'readily identifiable' to LEOs and civilians alike. Setting aside the fact that bright colored firearms already exist, from bright pink Glocks to white AR15s and everything in between, we've known for many years that gangbangers in some cities - and in at least one case, suspected narcos near the border - were painting their weapons to resemble airsoft weapons. I don't by any means mean to trivialize the death of an innocent, that's a tragedy and no two ways about it. I simply question the practicality, necessity and certainly the machinations and motivations behind SB1315. I also question the duplication of effort and the danger of precedent it represents - do we next legislate 'true colors' like black and FDE for all real weapons, so there's no confusion? Please leave any mockery or rancor about "airsofters" out of your response and stay on point in the discussion.
SB 1315 Seeks Airsoft and BB RestrictionsAndrew Ho
Recently, California made big news in the firearms industry with the introduction of a bill (SB249 - Yee) that would have made thousands of legitimate gun owners in California criminals. Thankfully, this bill was defeated thanks to the efforts of all the gun owners and 2nd Amendment supporters in California and throughout the country. Lesser known is California’s attempt to unreasonably regulate imitation firearms (i.e. airsoft guns) and traditional bb guns.
Bill SB1315 is sponsored by Kevin DeLeon (Dem) out of Los Angeles and will allow Los Angeles County to create its own restrictions on imitation firearms and traditional bb guns. What he intends to do is to force all bb and airsoft guns to be completely brightly colored in order to make them more easily identifiable to law enforcement and the general public. The impetus for this bill was an incident last year where a police officer shot a teenager who was improperly playing with his bb gun in a public place and who did not comply with the officer’s commands to drop his gun. Thankfully, the teenager survived. SB1315 is actually a revision of DeLeon’s bill SB798 last year that aimed to create restrictions statewide but it was soundly defeated so he came up with the current bill.
The same arguments used to defeat SB798 last year also applies to SB1315:
- There are currently federal regulations that govern the appearance imitation firearms and traditional bb guns. Any additional regulation will violate federal preemption. If federal preemption is ignored by the passage of this bill, it could potentially set a disastrous precedent for affecting other industries including the firearms industry in California.
- A 1990 federal study on toy guns and their involvement in crimes and police encounters concluded that a gun’s coloration in general does not affect a police officer’s judgment and reaction. Rather the situation, training, environment, and perceived threat are the primary factors in an officer’s actions. In addition, there are aftermarket and manufacturer produced brightly colored REAL firearms on the market now.
- The majority of the national airsoft market is served out of California-based businesses with the greatest concentration, ironically, in Southern California and is worth hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. The bill passage will drive businesses out of California and the fiscally challenged state will lose yet another industry’s revenue and tax base. It certainly also won’t prevent consumers from continuing to purchase these unregulated guns via mail order.
- Senator DeLeon has completely exempted the paintball industry from this law even though there are paintball guns that are as realistic in appearance as any imitation or bb gun. This is because the paintball industry’s lobbyist, Fabio Nunez, who is a controversial political figure himself in California politics for having used his political influence to get then Gov Schwarzenegger to commute his son’s sentence for a murder conviction, has a very close professional and personal relationship with DeLeon. This last point shows that this bill is more politically motivated than being truly about safety.
The solution for safety in the usage of imitation firearms comes with education and enforcement of already existing regulations governing the usage of such objects as well as user responsibility.
Currently, SB1315 has passed the California legislature this past Monday and California Governor Jerry Brown’s desk has a mere 10 days time from the passage to either sign it into law or veto it. Immediate action is needed to convince the governor to not sign it into law. Please call the Governor’s office at (916)445-2841 (Press “1” for English, then press “6” to speak to a representative) and say the following: “I’m calling about SB1315 and I oppose it”. Also, please go to the Governor’s website at http://gov.ca.gov/m_contact.php. Fill in your name, email, choose SB1315 in the dropdown menu and press submit. This will take you to another web page where you will select “CON” and you may write a personal message to the Governor.