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BB-gun bill advances in reaction to LAPD shooting

Ivan Ruiz, 7, a South Gate Tiger Cub Scout, with a BB gun.

In response to the police shooting of a Los Angeles teenager, state lawmakers on Tuesday backed a requirement that BB and pellet guns be made entirely with bright colors so that officers do not mistake them for deadly firearms.

The Senate Public Safety Committee approved the legislation sought by Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in response to the December police shooting of a 13-year-old boy carrying a pellet gun in Glassell Park.

The boy was left paralyzed in the shooting, which LAPD officials said occurred when an officer felt threatened because he was unable, in the dark, to distinguish that the weapon involved was a replica of a Beretta  handgun.

"We have seen significant tragedies across the U.S., especially in Los Angeles,’’ LAPD Deputy Chief David Doan told senators during a hearing on the measure at the Capitol.

Currently, toy guns must be brightly colored to distinguish them from being mistaken for real firearms.

Gun-owner rights activists and firearms sellers oppose the new measure, which next goes to the full Senate. Some critics said it was an overreaction, while others warned it could give police officers a false sense of security when dealing with BB guns that can cause injury.

"To color a BB gun or a pellet gun as if it was a toy would put officers in more danger,’’ said Gerald Upholt, a lobbyist for the California Assn. of Firearm Retailers.

The pellet gun involved in the Glassell Park shooting had an orange tip, but officers said did they not see the tip.  SB 798, authored by Sen. Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles), would require the entire pellet gun to be painted in bright colors, and would extend the use of such colors for the first time to include BB guns.


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Photo: Ivan Ruiz, 7, a South Gate Tiger Cub Scout, cocks his BB gun for the first time as nearly 4,000 Los Angeles County Boy, Cub and Adventure Scouts and their adult leaders celebrate a three-day Cen-Ten-O-Ree camping celebration marking the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Boy Scouts of America at the Whittier Narrows Recreation Area in El Monte on May 22, 2010. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (36)

So then if a gang member paints his Glock 17 bright neon orange, the police will be safer?

This does nothing to make anyone any safer. A police officer should be just as alert with a kid holding a brightly colored toy gun as someone holding a black BB gun. You never know which one will be real, OR which one could do damage.

Now, I know this is going to sound absolutely crazy--but thats never stopped me before. Why would you give your child a toy, that could not be distinguished from the real McCoy? Or did I miss something?

"The pellet gun involved in the Glassell Park shooting had an orange tip" well then it was NOT a pellet gun, most likely it was an "air-soft" gun, often used by kids and teens in parks and canyons for play, much cheaper and less messy than paintball. Actually metal (copper or lead) shooting bb and pellet guns are considered firearms in a broad interpretation of the law by most cities in CA. so they are therefore banned from public parks and recreation areas. Some cities, such as Huntington Beach, also attempt to ban airsoft and even cap guns under the same premise. Maybe the LA times could actually get some factual information from a knowlegable source and do real article. If a color requirement is put in place for BB and pellet guns it would conflict with state and possible federal law that prohibits making a real gun look like a toy.

Kids should be taught that guns are not toys and shouldn't be used as such, even under imaginary circumstances.

Want to play cowboys and Indians? Use broomsticks.

Now I understand why California is in financial trouble. Talk about nit-picking us Americans to death with dumb petty bills.

Sen. Kevin De Leon! Are you listening?
Could you please lie awake at night and think of something, anything, constructive?

BB Gun is dangerous. It shouldn't be made to look like a toy. Very bad decision by those who doesn't have a clue about gun safety.

Officer was threaten by a 13 year old boy. This cop shouldn't be on the streets patrolling our neighborhoods. For someone who gets training he couldn't determine a pellet gun from the real one.

The cop is a coward. I bet he blamed all on the the poor boy. What a coward, i hope he doesn't have kids. Karma is a bit**!!

typical nanny state crap

As a retired police officer I would not let the color of an item dictate the safety factor in a contact. Nothing replaces good tactics and safety but there are many "colored" firearms also so that mindset itself is dangerous.
I would rather train officers in firearms ID and tactics.

As the father of two large teenage sons, who happen to be black (both honor students in college)! I have always coached them on what NOT to do around police.

Young black men are in danger when they encounter police. They don't see two honor students, they see a threat! I've raised them to be polite, well mannered and address elders as sir or ma'am.

I've tried to explain this to my rich white friends (my peers economically) they don't get it. That's because the police will practice more restraint with your sons!


This is definately a over reaction by nanny state politicians. As noted by another poster, Glocks have been confiscated from gang members which were painted floresent orange.

There are companies that can already color REAL firearms in bright, neon colors, which make them look like a toy. Regardless of what color the gun is, police officers must believe all guns are real until proven otherwise. The fault here lies with the parents; you cannot allow your child to have any type of gun in public, BB gun or toy gun, in today's world. It's just not safe.

A BB or pellet air rifle / pistol is the first step to understanding and learning about such, that it is not a toy. I learned this at the East Valley YMCA and Cub Scouts, about 45 years ago.

By placing "color" on item, diminishes the educational aspects of responsibly handling such a piece of equipment.

Although I can understand the officers reaction, considering the time of night and available light, unless someone or he was under a threat, bare fear is not an excuse for using deadly force.

As Mr. Rowan apptly pointed out:
"So then if a gang member paints his Glock 17 bright neon orange, the police will be safer?

Did the officer that shot the child with the BB gun tell the kid to put it down or just started to shoot?

I agree with Doug Rowan, criminals are always one step ahead of the game. They'll paint their guns bright colors, and the situation will remain the same. Either the manufacturers stop making replicas on "murder weapons" or the public stop buying them. Why is it important for a 10 or 12 year old to have a gun that represents murder? This might be a case of a parent and peer pressure. I was in the market the other day and saw a 3 or 4 year old boy with low hip and baggy calf length pants, and to top it off he was wearing a mohawk, and had studs in both ears. I'm pretty sure it wasn't his choice. I was looking for a tattoo - -

"So then if a gang member paints his Glock 17 bright neon orange, the police will be safer?"

Haha Exactly. I'm so glad I left Crazyfornia for good in March. Good Riddance.

Google "phoenix police toy guns" and you'll see a press release/article about toy guns and safety. At least they bring up the issue and try to teach awareness, but don't rush to ban ban ban, strip us from our freedoms. People WILL do stupid things if uneducated. CA wants to keep people uneducated, and there will be more and more gun accidents and deaths. CA wants to keep guns out of the hands of law abiding, and it will just embolden those who have them illegally to commit more crimes. Just look what banning drugs did: CA is a drug free zone right? Ha.

California, you deserve EVERYTHING you get, and what is about to befall you. The worst is yet to come.

Better yet, I would rather paint politicians and political hacks bright colors. They are a bigger danger to this society.

Aforementioned comment: http://phoenix.gov/police/airsoft.html Education, not tyranny.

Ah! One more knee jerk reaction. THIS is the one that will make us magically safer, I'm sure of it!

Now, I know this is going to sound absolutely crazy--but thats never stopped me before. Why would you give your child a toy, that could not be distinguished from the real McCoy? Or did I miss something?

Either your still a Teen which I doubt so I will answer it well with a little craziness.

Exactly when do you think parents have control of Teen's? I know my parents had very little of me and I was not going around with a BB. I for one think its a good idea to color if nothing else maybe the little hairy kiddies will stop running around thinking they are Rambo.

c'mon...I had a mentally ill friend who was killed over an unmistakable toy gun by deputies, so changing the color is not really the solution here..Any one criminal can paint their guns too..We have too many laws and legislations and just another time waster... It seems as if Lawmakers forget that laws need to be enforced and how many of the thousands if not millions of laws on our books are enforced..Be Real!

why didn't the officer identify himself and command that the kid drop the weapon before firing on him? shoot first mentality is common in over aggressive Ca police officers, they commonly treat the citizens they encounter like everyone is a criminal. if an officer is that paranoid they should not be on the job. the fact is there are toy guns in society, it is an officers responsibility to make sure he is not shooting an innocent child, there is no excuse for this. "I was in fear of my life" is their mantra and excuse for everything.

Better make it illegal to paint real guns in bright kiddie colors.

And who, on God's Green Earth, is foolish enough to carry anything that looks like an authentic handgun in a public park at night. I think the boy knew better, and I suspect he had other purposes in mind.

BTW - I thought it was already illegal for a person under 18 to possess replica and/or BB guns? What's the matter, don't the gun laws work?

As they should ANY toy gun...including pistols some of which even up close look like the real deal. Time in many cases does not allow inspection to see if it is real of fake....and those consequences of not knowing can be deadly.

According to the initial story the subject was 5ft 7, 200 lbs, holding a replica 92f, in the dark, refusing to comply with orders.

Sounds like, based on the perception, at the time by the officer, he did the right think. It appears the officer did not know the subject was 13 (13 yr olds do kill people with guns), with an airsoft gun. It's a trajedy. However...

The officer at the time isny interviewing the subject, but attempting to detaining him. Just like the others where, without incident. If the subject did not run and complied he would not have been shot. That's the reality.

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