Gun safety legislation comes under fire from unusual suspects

toy gunWhatever their enthusiasm or seriousness, California gun users have a new set of obstacles, thanks to fresh legislation intended to increase firearm safety. Both changes have raised pointed questions about naivety on technology.

Senate Bill 199 was introduced by state Sen. Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, now the Senate president pro tem. It was passed last year and signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown. It targeted BB and pellet guns, mandating bright colors meant to distinguish them from “real” guns. First implemented in January, the so-called Imitation Firearms Safety Act has been working its way slowly across the state.

But it has aroused particular disbelief among police on the one hand and hobbyists on the other.

According to a statement from de Leon’s office, the well meaning legislation sought to:

“Help law enforcement distinguish toy guns from the real thing when they are confronted with youngsters brandishing play firearms. Currently toy guns such as airsoft and BB guns are not included in California’s legal definition of imitation weapons. SB199 requires these look-a-likes to have their entire exterior surface painted a bright color, or to feature florescent strips in salient parts of the gun to make them easily distinguishable.”

Support for SB199 gathered in response to the kind of police altercation that makes headlines — armed but mistaken confrontations with minors. Recently, two LAPD officers fired on a South L.A. teenager holding a replica thought to be a handgun. Although the teen was not wounded, a nearby 15-year-old was.

While pellet gun hobbyists have balked at the legislation — popular Airsoft guns base their appeal on their realistic look and feel — gun manufacturers and police unions have registered even stronger opposition. As the Los Angeles Times reported, they have long claimed “the law will do little to prevent mistaken shootings and could actually make things more confusing for officers who must make split-second decisions whether to fire or not.”

In the summer of 2013, the Los Angeles Police Protective League, an LAPD union, warned the city of Los Angeles against similar regulations under municipal consideration. League President Tyler Izen pulled no punches:

“This is a horrible idea that may cause officers to hesitate when confronted with a colored rifle when we already know that fully operable handguns and rifles have been painted bright colors.”

In a dramatic demonstration of Izen’s objections, a quick search for pink firearms at the website GunsAmerica.com yielded over 250 results, including both handguns and rifles that incorporate the kind of vibrant, telltale coloration required by SB199.

Microstamping guns

The second bill is AB1471. It was signed into law in 2007 by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican. It sought to reduce crime through “microstamping,” a process that would theoretically enable law enforcement to trace every cartridge left at the scene of a crime back to the gun from which it came.

AB1471 did not take effect until 2013. It since has became the subject of intense litigation in the courts. And now, a key decision from a district court judge has pushed the case further up the judicial food chain. Recently handed an adverse ruling in the form of a summary judgment against them, the anti-microstamping plaintiffs have appealed the judge’s decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Expectations have hardened that the case could continue to rise, on appeal, all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The terms of AB1471 required firearms manufacturers “to engrave the serial number in the gun’s chamber so that it becomes stamped on each bullet as it is fired,” as the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Although law enforcement groups did support the law, Attorney General Kamala Harris did not authorize its implementation until she was convinced two years ago the necessary technology was available.

Gun manufacturers, however, vehemently disagreed the necessary process was feasible. As a result, Fox News reported, new models of firearms have begun to disappear from California stores:

“Since the law took effect in 2013, no manufacturer has made a new firearm that complies with the requirement. Two major manufacturers, Smith & Wesson and Sturm, Ruger & Co., announced last year they would stop selling new firearms in the California market, and blamed the microstamping law. The technology has been demonstrated, but gunmakers say requirements that each new model, or even modification, must be re-tested for compliance makes the entire scheme unworkable.”

The controversy led to accusations that microstamping would effectively phase out ownership of new guns in California.

5 comments

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  1. desmond
    desmond 28 February, 2015, 05:10

    De Leon should stick to what he is good at, corruption, and representing the country of Mexico in the state legislature, as well as chairman of the
    “Deleon’s aunt for US Senate.” Committee.

    Reply this comment
  2. Donkey
    Donkey 28 February, 2015, 20:18

    The PPL is full of sociopathic dolts that talk incessantly about “officer safety”, but care not one iota about the safety of the private sector citizen. More Americans have been killed by state side police organizations than have been killed in two wars since 9/11. As an American you have a much greater chance of being murdered by the police than being murdered by a terrorist! 🙂

    Reply this comment
  3. Dyspeptic
    Dyspeptic 2 March, 2015, 11:40

    Apparently, the warped logic of SB 199 is that when police act negligently and shoot an innocent child, it’s the toys fault, not the trigger happy jackboots. This is the inevitable result of “qualified immunity” for LEO’s. They get to behave in anti-social and irresponsible ways and escape all personal liability. Gee, what could possibly go wrong with that policy? Naturally, LAPD Chief Jackboot Charlie Beck was a prime mover behind this nonsense. Charlie hates gun rights as much as he loves illegal aliens.

    We can thank the disastrous Governor Schwarzenegger for AB 1471, the Orwellian microstamping bill. This is what happens when desperate voters get suckered by celebrity politicians with glib, superficial appeal and a propensity to tell them the lies they want to hear. If you think Repulsivecans are the answer to all of the problems created by DemocRats your just too stupid to be trusted with a vote on anything.

    Reply this comment
  4. Deserttrek
    Deserttrek 3 March, 2015, 11:58

    micro stamping is ridiculous and cannot be done .. these are just more attempts to disarm the citizens to enforce the far left police state .. the criminals will still be armed

    Reply this comment
  5. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 31 October, 2015, 06:49

    Deleons a total mico-brain and n so is Moonbeam to think crinimals will abide by some gun control laws its the victims of crime that will suffer since crinimals get their guns by stealing them or though the black market. Its just so incredible just how stupid these politicains are

    Reply this comment

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