The Sonoma County Sheriff's Department released this photo of a replica assault rifle they say a 13-year-old boy was carrying when a deputy killed him.
The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department released this photo of a replica assault rifle they say a 13-year-old boy was carrying when a deputy killed him.

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.



Andy Lopez Shooting Aftermath: New Bill Would Require Brightly Colored Toy Guns 22 November,2013Dan Brekke

  • Chris Griffith

    This legislation is really bad. The only this that is going to come from a law like this is a dead cop. All the bad guy has to do is go to the hardware store buy a can of blue paint and paint his gun.

    • Jordan Shay

      There are already laws on the books that made it illegal for Andy Lopez to be carrying the Airsoft rifle that he was carrying. California Penal Code 20170. Even the articles in the local papers from Airsoft companies have stated that these guns must be carried in cases in public. The Airsoft industry placed an orange tip on the Airsoft AK-47 that Andy was carrying that would have identified it as a replica gun, but his friend Luis Diaz told a crowd at the memorial that he saw Andy Lopez break the orange tip off of the gun. Making more laws that people will either not follow or will deliberately work against, will not keep these shootings from taking place.

      • Ryan

        I would love to see the dashcam video of the shooting. What if it had been an adult carrying a rifle without a case to his truck? It is perfectly legal to opencarry and transport firearms. What if a cop yelled at that adult to drop the gun and in the process that person began to turn around and slightly raise the muzzle as he turned? Look, lots of kids play with guns around the country and around the world – and one just got shot. Why doesn’t this happen more often? I think we have a cop that now imagines he is a soldier on a battlefield and has become hyper-sensitive. He would have been better off as a marine, it would have gone well with what he has written in his books.

        • Jordan Shay

          Firstly, there was no dashcam video camera, as has been reported many times, so you will not be able to see it. Secondly, It is not perfectly legal to open carry firearms. California Penal Code states the opposite for Airsoft guns, and AB 144 prohibits handguns from being open carried in California. Regardless a 13 year old would not be able to have been in possession of a firearm of any type without an adult present. No child should ever be encouraged to “play with guns”. The reason it does not happen more often is because most people who use firearms have a basic understanding of the laws regarding their use. As is evident in this and many posts on this shooting, people are not even aware of what basic firearms laws are.

      • Ryan

        Here you go:
        “Who is to blame for Battlefield America?”

  • Chris Griffith

    To all the village idiots in the state legislator.
    The only thing a law like this is going to do is get some cop shot with a real gun simply painted to look like a play gun

    If you clowns REALLY want to pass a law enact a law like this…
    No new law should be allowed to be passed

    1 – Written in plain English, no legalese, the layman MUST be
    able to parse it and understand it
    2 – No more that 2 pages at
    3 – Two or more existing laws are repealed for each new law
    passed (This can be revised down to one-for-one once the current lawbooks are
    cut to 1/4 their current size)

  • Bacon

    I agree with the bill, they should do the paint thing


Dan Brekke

Dan Brekke is a blogger, reporter and editor for KQED News, responsible for online breaking news coverage of topics ranging from California water issues to the Bay Area’s transportation challenges. In a newsroom career that began in Chicago in 1972, Dan has worked as a city and foreign/national editor for The San Francisco Examiner, editor at Wired News, deputy editor at Wired magazine, managing editor at TechTV as well as for several Web startups.

Since joining KQED in 2007, Dan has reported, edited and produced both radio and online features and breaking news pieces. He has shared in two Society of Professional Journalists Norcal Excellence in Journalism awards — for his 2012 reporting on a KQED Science series on water and power in California, and in 2014, for KQED’s comprehensive reporting on the south Napa earthquake.

In addition to his 44 years of on-the-job education, Dan is a lifelong student of history and is still pursuing an undergraduate degree.

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