Anti-Airsoft bill on California Governor's Desk

Posted | By:  

A bill that could affect the huge airsoft and milsim community on the West Coast is just a signature away from law. The bill, according to airsoft advocacy groups, is an unfair and ignorant approach to safety that will force Golden State hobbyists to mark their pellet-firing devices in bright colors while actual firearms can be any flavor. This is portrayed as a move to help save lives, however, some would disagree.

Anti-Airsoft bill on California Governor
(A common meme floating around Airsoft social media)

The legislation itself

The measure, SB199, was introduced to the California Senate by Senators De Len, Evans, and Wolk. If you aren't sure who Kevin De Leon is, he is the infamous lawmaker who session after session introduces gun control measures to the state legislature in Sacramento. Still not sure, check out this video of De Leon championing his so-called "Ghost Gun" bill earlier this year.

De Leon in action. If he knows this much about firearms in general, do you expect him to be an expert in milsim/airsoft?

The anti-airsoft, anti-BB bill (oddly with almost no mention of paintball guns) drifted through the legislature for almost eighteen months before gaining enough traction to pass. It originally mandated that airsoft devices sold or made in California be either transparent (clear) or brightly colored to resemble toys or super-soaker style water guns.

Senate Bill 199 languished for a long time over the issue of pellet guns (.177, .22 etc.), until lawmakers removed all guns that fire a projectile smaller than 6mm or 8mm (which eliminated most air rifles and pistols, but still included airsoft) from the requirement.

In that form, targeting just airsoft devices, it passed the state Assembly by 46-34 on Aug. 26 and the state Senate by a 23-12 margin just two days later. Now, it sits on Gov. Jerry Brown's desk waiting to be signed into law.

Many believe the bill is unfair, as it would require milsim-style guns, which fire generally non-lethal plastic BBs, to be marked in certain colors and styles, while actual firearms can be in any color or style subject to the gun maker's imagination.

Anti-Airsoft bill on California Governor
SAR Arms Pistols. These are not airsoft guns, they are actual 9mm semi-auto pistols

Although there are several pellet guns that look similar to real firearms, as well as paintball guns that are similar, it is only airsoft that is being targeted in this legislation. The bill has changed from its original format to just require a 2 centimeter colored adhesive stripe on 2 out of 3 of the following locations: stock, mag well, hand guard, or pistol grip, but is still unpopular.

De Leon argues that this will save lives.

"In a stressful situation where it's a question of using deadly force, police officers are not going to be able to get close enough for a detailed inspection," said Senator De Leόn in a release. "These toy guns need some sort of marking that will make them harder to mistake for real firearms."

But, can you really tell a real gun from a fake gun just by the way its marked?

Anti-Airsoft bill on California Governor
Which one of these is a 'real' gun? The answer may surprise you.

What can you do?

The legislation has been a very popular point of discussion here on the forums with more than 37,000 views on the primary thread since it was started in January.

On the bright side, there are a number of groups opposing the measure on behalf of the airsoft/milsim community. The California State Rifle and Pistol Association, the state's NRA affiliate, publicly opposes SB199 as does the NRA proper.

The NRA contends that federal law already mandates the marking of airsoft guns and that the De Leon bill would overstep state laws by requiring even more regulation than Washington requires.

While this sets up a legal challenge for if the bill is signed into law, it is up to concerned airsofters to take action to prevent that from happening.

Anti-Airsoft bill on California Governor
(Devtac Airsoft has been passing this around on their Facebook page and correspondence for months)

Many airsoft groups and personalities, such as Devtac and Jet DesertFox have been very active in Vote No on SB199 advocacy in recent month

A Facebook page has been set up with information on how to oppose the measure including contact information for the Governor's office.

What's your opinion on the bill? Let us know in the comments below.

Posted in
  Email   Print
September 15, 2014  •  03:40 PM
If California wants to kill a rapid growing industry over there fine. That's less sales tax for them. No idea why a bill meant for real firearms feels the need to encompass airsoft where the current orange tip law has proven generally effective.

Just because a few idiots go in public without the orange tip, doesn't mean it's a life threatening problem.

September 15, 2014  •  07:35 PM
Great article.

I fail to see how this increases safety. All it does is (supposedly) clearly mark *airsoft* guns. How does that make us safer? Wouldn't it be far more logical to mark *real* guns, so that law enforcement knows what guns can actually cause major bodily harm?

Considering that RS weaponry can already by painted any colour, all this does is open up another avenue of disguise - criminals can paint RS guns bright colours in an attempt to pass them off as airsoft weapons. I am sure they do that already (e.g. fake orange flash hiders).

Law enforcement should not give a shit what colour the gun is. Any officer worth his/her badge should immediately take action if he/she even *suspects* that he/she is dealing with a firearm.

This bill is already useless, but even worse, it targets the wrong thing in a feeble attempt to seem politically active.
September 15, 2014  •  09:03 PM
This is what I wrote, I didn't do any editing other than spelling so its rather bad, but here you go:

An entire community should not be subject to restrictions due to poor choices of certain kids, as well as their parents, who transport their "BB Devices" without proper concern for their safety. Making "BB Devices" to be manufactured in "rainbow colors" is an ignorant way to solve a problem, the said problem is those who decide to carry around these devices publicly, doing that endangers THEIR safety, should a kid do this it is the fault of the parents allowing them to have these devices transported in such a manner. I personally have a "BB Device" and my parents require me to transport it in a locked rifle bag. I personally, refuse to take it out of the rifle bag unless I am in my home or in the airsoft facility I visit to participate in matches. If this bill passes I believe the children who don't understand how to transport these devices properly will move on to spray paint the "BB Devices" into a black color anyway. Passing this law will create simply create an annoyance to those who responsibly handle "BB Devices" and prevent little to no incidents that will occur to the lack of responsibility when handling said devices. In addition to these arguments, I would like to argue that this will damage our economy, however minuscule the revenues from airsoft companies, whom most reside in California due to our Asian shipping lines, compare to our agriculture or High-Tech industry, it will be present.
September 15, 2014  •  09:10 PM
Ninja, great point. The actions of the few, should not effect the whole.
September 15, 2014  •  10:39 PM
@I_Am_Coopa Thanks         ム`ヽ
      / ノ)   ∧∧     ) ヽ
     ゙/ |  (・ω・')ノ⌒(ゝ._,ノ
     / ノ⌒7⌒ヽーく  \ /
     丶_ ノ 。   ノ、  。|/
        'ヽ 'ー-'_人'ーノ
         丶  ̄ _人'彡ノ
         ノ  r'十ヽ/
September 16, 2014  •  03:42 AM
Unfortunately that's how California works though ninja.
September 16, 2014  •  12:13 PM
The government can shove that bill up their ugly ass. If someone decides to be irresponsible with their airsoft gun and try to rob a store or some shit then that has nothing to do with us as professional airsofters. There gonna try to get rid of Airsoft but just look at how good of a job they are doing with meth and cocaine. just because its illegal doesn't mean people wont use them. Here's a good idea. how about we give more weapons to store owners. I guarantee the second a real gun gets pulled out that airsoft gun wont be worth shit to him/her.
September 17, 2014  •  03:11 AM
Okay so Update: the bill was not signed(the deadline is 12 days after arrival at the governors office, which was 9/4/14) however it was not veto'ed either so it will become a "law without signature" don't ask me what that means.
September 17, 2014  •  03:24 AM
@I_Am_Coopa I thought about this deeper, and the whole system of democracy is designed to prevent the actions of the few affecting the whole. Beforehand there were monarchies, controlled by the few affecting the rest of their society in a , usually, negative way. And yet today the power is often given to representatives who we often have not heard of until an ordeal such as this occurs. Yet sadly it may be our fault this bill passed when I heard about it months ago I did not care because I assumed this law would never pass by only factoring in my opinion, and at this point it is going to probably take an exponential amount of extra effort to have this bill revoked. Meanwhile the only groups pushing against this bill are the NRA and its California branch, who have generate a negative outlook in California, even I personally dislike the NRA as a whole, stemming from certain radical opinions they hold as well as their methods, while airsoft is fast growing industry it has no where near enough revenue to obtain lobbyists. Meanwhile the financial losses will mean nothing to California as a whole as a 110 Million dollar industry I would assume 20ish% goes to taxes so 22 million a year, assume airsoft sales will be cut in half, california loses about 11 millions a year. Meanwhile california's GDP is 2.95 Trillion per year, putting it at 8th wealthiest in the world if it were its own country, 11 million means nothing in these figures thus the lack of concern on the economy.

P.S D*mn I went on a long rant.
September 17, 2014  •  05:25 PM
this is moronic to believe that it would save lives. If any it will cost officer's lives when criminals start to catch on and paint their guns pink. also this is all seeming very familiar from a couple years ago... hmm..
September 17, 2014  •  11:35 PM
@I_Am_Coopa, While I don't think orange tips should be required anywhere, I think if people would use a damn ounce of common sense and treat a weapon like a real one in public there wouldn't be any problems. And government in general needs to keep their nose out of individuals business.
September 19, 2014  •  02:59 AM
BTW the final bill states that there need to be striped bands on bla bla bla parts of the gun not full pink, I hope manufacturers use removable bands, such has a plastic band kept on by tension as opposed to making parts of the body coloured. So essentially as of 2016 airsoft rifles(unsure about the markings for pistols) there will be an orange tip, and two "neon" bands on the gun(there were 4 locations manufacturers have to pick 2 of them). Lets just hope the god the manufacturers don't paint the bands onto the body.
September 19, 2014  •  01:09 PM
You can always use a thing called spray paint. :) I am hoping, for your sake I don't live in CA, that they put one of the bands on the magazine, then can buy a replacement mag without the band.
September 23, 2014  •  08:06 PM
Well, it's California. The state is run by Southern California (massive population center), and SoCal folks are some of the dumbest people I've ever met (speaking as someone who lived in the People's Republic of Kalifornia for the better part of 14 years). Totally vapid, incapable of independent thought (and shit themselves at the idea of critical thinking), and dumb enough to make you believe in state-sponsored eugenics.

Hell, in LA, if you apply for a job as a freaking cashier, they ask for head shots (as in pictures). Looks are all that matter down there. Looks and feeling good (which is how you get this kind of BS "feel good" legislation. We can mock De Leon's mind-blowing idiocy all we want, but at the end of the day, he was democratically elected, and is thus a reflection of the people he serves. I'll honestly be shocked if this bill doesn't pass.