SACRAMENTO (AP) — The state Assembly approved legislation on Tuesday that would require certain replica guns to be sold in bright colors or transparent to avoid deadly mix-ups with police officers.
SB199 advanced on a 41-34 vote, the minimum needed to pass, after Republican lawmakers and an influential Democrat blasted it as ineffective. It now returns to the Senate.
Democratic Sen. Kevin de Leon of Los Angeles introduced the bill after two California teenagers were shot by law enforcement officers confusing toy guns for real ones.
A similar bill failed in 2011, but SB199 advanced after the fatal October shooting of 13-year-old Andy Lopez in Santa Rosa, when a sheriff’s deputy mistook the boy’s toy rifle for a real AK-47.
“Boys have been shot and killed by law enforcement carrying these guns,” said Assemblyman Mark Levine, D-San Rafael. “Horrific things happen when a toy gun is confused for the real thing.”
To distinguish the guns, the bill would require certain replica firearms have a brightly colored surface or prominent fluorescent strips.
The bill would apply to air guns that fire pellets or BBs that are six millimeters or eight millimeters, a definition excluding other types of toy guns.
It has support from several law enforcement agencies, including the Los Angeles Police Department.
Opponents say real guns already are sold in bright colors and that criminals could paint their weapons to confuse police. Former Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, also voted against the bill, saying it was the wrong approach to a serious problem.
“Paint is not the solution,” said Perez. “Paint leads to a situation where people who we don’t think should have guns in the first place can go and paint the gun they have.”