RELEASE: Imitation Firearms Safety Act Unveiled with the Support of Local Community Groups

Friday, November 22, 2013

Santa Rosa City Teen Tragedy Highlights Need for Imitation Weapon Legislation

SANTA ROSA -- Senator Kevin de Leόn (D-Los Angeles) today announced his plans to re-introduce the Imitation Firearms Safety Act requiring BB, pellet and airsoft guns to be painted bright colors to help law enforcement distinguish between toy guns and the real thing when they are confronted with youngsters brandishing play firearms.  “When officers must make split second decisions on whether or not to use deadly force, these replica firearms can trigger tragic consequences,” according to Senator De Leόn.  “By making toy guns more obvious to law enforcement we can help families avoid the terrible grief of losing a child.”

Senator Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa), will joint-author the new legislation along with Assemblymembers Wesley Chesbro, Marc Levine and Mariko Yamada.

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.

Santa Rosa is the scene of a recent law-enforcement related shooting death of a local teenager carrying a mock AK-47.  A study conducted in 1990 and reported in the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics said that police reported they had  used or threatened to use force in a confrontation where an imitation gun had been mistaken for a real firearm at a rate of about 200 incidents per year. Community groups and local elected officials rallied in support of the announcement of the Imitation Firearms Safety Act. Sonoma County Supervisor Shirlee Zane, Santa Rosa Vice Mayor Erin Carlstrom, Santa Rosa City Councilwoman Julie Combs, Rev. Curtis Byrd of the Grey Byrd Foundation and Lisa Carreno Executive Director of 10,000 Degrees were all in attendance.