SACRAMENTO -- A month after sheriff deputies shot and killed a 13-year-old Northern Californian who was carrying an airsoft gun, state lawmakers said Friday they plan to introduce legislation to require such guns to be painted bright colors to help law enforcement distinguish them from deadly firearms.
The death of Andy Lopez in Santa Rosa, who was carrying a replica of an AK-47, might have been prevented if deputies could have determined the gun was not a real assault weapon, lawmakers said.
"When officers must make split-second decisions on whether or not to use deadly force, these replica firearms can trigger tragic consequences," said Sen. Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles). "By making toy guns more obvious to law enforcement we can help families avoid the terrible grief of losing a child."
De Leon plans to reintroduce a measure he wrote in 2011 that would have required BB guns to be painted a bright color.
That bill was requested by Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck in response to an incident in which 13-year old Rohayent Gomez was shot and left a paraplegic when police mistook his replica firearm for a real weapon. That bill failed passage in an Assembly committee.
The new bill with be jointly offered by Sen. Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa) and Democratic Assemblymembers Wesley Chesbro of Arcata, Marc Levine of San Rafael and Mariko Yamada of Davis.
"Currently these copycat toys are manufactured to be virtually indistinguishable from real firearms," Evans said. "Because the use of lethal force against a person carrying an imitation firearm is a significant threat to public safety, toys must look like toys and not lethal weapons."