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BB-gun bill advances in reaction to LAPD shooting

April 26, 2011 |  1:34 pm

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