California May Re-Consider Legislation Against Toy Guns in Light of Alex Lopez Shooting


America has a problem with guns. What exactly that problem is, however, is just one of many points up for debate in the national gun conversation that can’t ever move forward because there is no common ground between the two sides, only a vast ocean of suspicion, distrust, and antipathy. With an issue like this so embroiled in emotion, fear, and loss, every story about a death involving firearms transcends the individual tragedy to serve as an example as to why guns in America need to be controlled or how those deaths are indicative of a failure of current gun control strategy. Such is the case of 13 year-old Andy Lopez, who was shot to death by a veteran police officer who believed a toy gun he was holding was an actual firearm.

In 1988, a plastic firearms bill was passed in the Senate which included an amendment from Bob Dole, then the Republican Senator from Kansas that mandated that realistic toy guns have an orange plug in the barrel (or some other kind of obvious, orange marking) that would distinguish it from actual weapons. An even further-reaching measure was introduced in the House of Representatives by Representative Mel Levine, Democrat of California, which would have banned the sale of realistic weapons altogether.

While that measure failed, California State Senator Kevin de León introduced legislation in 2011 that, according to Capital Public Radio, “would have required [BB] and air guns to be clearly marked.” The bill, which was the result of a December 2010 shooting of a 13 year-old boy who was left paralyzed, after being shot by police who mistook his pellet gun for a real weapon. The bill introduced by de León would require that toy guns be transparent or neon in color. Although even that may be pointless, considering that gun manufacturers are already producing firearms in bright, neon colors.


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