California SB 798

California SB 798

“What scares me the most about this bill (if it passes) is what the lawyers will do to the next Cop that shoots the an idiot who points what appears to be a firearm at him in a dark alley and it turns out the be a SB 798 compliant airsoft gun. The community will blame the cop. But we live in a world where our politicians put more effort into a bunch of quick fix laws without considering the long term impact on society or in this case our police officers.” – Mark Anderson

California Senate Bill 798 was introduced by Senator Kevin de Leon (http://sd22.senate.ca.gov/) and passed the Senate Public Safety Committee by a 3 to 2 vote on March 26. This bill, if passed, would prohibit “the sale, manufacture, transportation, receipt, or distribution of imitation firearms for commercial purposes” unless “the entire exterior surface of the device is white, bright red, bright orange, bright yellow, bright green, bright blue, bright pink, or bright purple, either singly or as the predominant color in combination with other colors in any pattern, as provided by federal regulations governing imitation firearms, or where the entire device is constructed of transparent or translucent materials which permits unmistakable observation of the device’s complete contents, as provided by federal regulations governing imitation firearms.”

http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/11-12/bill/sen/sb_0751-0800/sb_798_bill_20110413_amended_sen_v97.pdf

Senator de Leon worked with the Los Angeles Chief of Police, Charlie Beck, to create this bill. They think that it will “protect Californians.” Their perceived need for the bill is based on an event that was reported in December, 2010, in the Los Angeles Times. The story was about a 13-year-old Glassell Park boy who was shot and injured by a Los Angele Police Department officer. Officer Victor Abarca shot the boy, thinking that the boy was producing a real gun when ordered to surrender. According to the LA Times article, Lt. John Romero, police spokesman, “said the youth pulled the gun from his clothing in a motion consistent with drawing a weapon.” It also said that the event occured after 7:50 PM in December, and that the officer was shining a flashlight on the boy.

http://articles.latimes.com/2010/dec/19/local/la-me-lapd-pellet-gun-20101219

I have not been able to find out if Officer Abarca thinks that he would have acted differently if the boy had pulled a brightly colored or clear gun from his clothing in a motion consistent with drawing a weapon.

This is a tragedy. It very easily could have resulted in a death. I cannot imagine what Officer Abarca is going through, or how terrible it would be for a police officer to find out they killed a child with an airsoft gun in a similar incident. I would be willing to completely give up playing airsoft if it would mean keeping such an event from occuring. That brings us to the question, “What would keep this from occuring again?” Would SB 798 keep this from occuring? Would compliance with current legislation and enforcement of already existing laws keep it from occuring. I noticed that no charges were filled against the injured boy or his two companions, despite the following:

Current law provides that sale of any BB device to a minor is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months in county jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. (Penal Code § 19910.)

Current law provides that every person who furnishes any BB device to any minor, without the express or implied permission of a parent or legal guardian of the minor, is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months in county jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. (Penal Code § 19915.)

Current law provides that no person may openly display or expose any imitation firearm in a public place, as defined. (Penal Code § 20170.) A violation is an infraction punishable by a fine of $100 for the first offense, and $300 for a second offense. A third or subsequent violation is punishable as a misdemeanor. (Penal Code § 20180.) http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/11-12/bill/sen/sb_0751-0800/sb_798_cfa_20110427_154959_sen_comm.html

In addition to these infractions, the youth did not comply with the instructions of the police officer. Would requiring adult airsoft players in mil-sim games, out of view of the public, to use brightly colored or clear guns result in the above laws being enforced or prevent an officer from firing when a dark figure in the night pulls a “gun from his clothing in a motion consistent with drawing a weapon” after being ordered to surrender? If it will, then please pass SB 798. Do we want police who are trained to act quickly in response to threatening movements to hesitate while acting based on the color of the weapon they may not be able to see? Some have even called this bill a “Cop Killer” bill. It seems the author of the bill is unaware of the many brightly colored real steel guns that exist (http://www.thegunsource.com/category/2580_Pink_Pistols.aspx?w=%2BCJWDALnoPg%3D). We already have the laws in place that are obviously not enforced. More laws only hurt those of us citizens and parents who are responsible and law-abiding. We already have the laws in place that are obviously not enforced. More laws only hurt those of us citizens and parents who are responsible and law-abiding.

Use this link to obtain phone numbers and email addresses of the members of the Assembly Committee on Public Safety. Do not email Assembly members Skinner or Hill unless you live in their district.

Tom Ammiano – Chair Dem-13 (916) 319-2013 Assemblymember.Ammiano@assembly.ca.gov
Steve Knight – Vice Chair Rep-36 (916) 319-2036 Assemblymember.Knight@assembly.ca.gov
Gilbert Cedillo Dem-45 (916) 319-2045 Assemblymember.Cedillo@assembly.ca.gov
Curt Hagman Rep-60 (916) 319-2060 Assemblymember.Hagman@assembly.ca.gov
Jerry Hill Dem-19 (916) 319-2019 Assemblymember.Hill@assembly.ca.gov
Holly J. Mitchell Dem-47 (916) 319-2047 Assemblymember.Mitchell@assembly.ca.gov
Nancy Skinner Dem-14 (916) 319-2014 Assemblymember.Skinner@assembly.ca.gov
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