Two state legislators say they’ll introduce a bill that will require BB guns, pellet guns and other toy firearms to be brightly colored.
The proposal from state Sens. Noreen Evans and Kevin de Leόn comes in response to last month’s fatal police shooting of a Santa Rosa eighth grader who was carrying an airsoft gun that resembled an AK-47 assault rifle.
Police investigators have said Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Erick Gelhaus thought Andy Lopez, 13, was carrying a real firearm. In an encounter that took just seconds to unfold, the deputy shot Lopez seven times when the teen responded to an order to drop the gun by instead turning toward the officer. The Sonoma County district attorney is still investigating the case.
“We’ve been looking for some way to prevent this from happening in the future,” Evans said during an interview with KQED’s Alex Emslie after a press conference in Santa Rosa. “This legislation is one tiny step but a very important one to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
The proposed law would classify all BB guns, pellet guns and airsoft guns as imitation firearms and require their entire surface to be painted a bright color.
De Leόn, a Democrat from Los Angeles, proposed similar legislation in 2011. From his press release today:
In 2011, Senator de Leόn authored SB 798 to require BB guns to be painted a bright color to make it harder for them to be mistaken for real firearms. The measure was sponsored by Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck following an incident when another 13-year old, Rohayent Gomez, was tragically shot and left a paraplegic when police mistook his replica firearm for a real weapon. The bill failed passage in the Assembly Public Safety Committee.
For more on the legislation, reporter Mina Kim spoke with state Sen. Kevin de Leόn.
KQED’s Alex Emslie contributed to this post.