Gov. Brown signs anti-Airsoft bill in California

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Quietly and without comment, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed Senate Bill 199 into law Sept. 30 in Sacramento. The new law, which had virtually no support from the airsoft community or larger gun rights lobby in general, will have an effect on how California airsoft and milsim participants have to mark their guns in future days.

"Imitation guns have caused far too many tragedies. The deaths of children as a result of toy guns should be a wakeup call for airsoft manufacturers," state Sen. Kevin de Leon, the bill's author, said in a released statement following the signing. "Now with the Governor's signature of SB 199, replica guns must be distinguished from real firearms so our communities and police officers are not placed in unnecessarily dangerous situations."

SB199 at first was an anti-airsoft, anti-airgun 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.

Gov. Brown signs anti-Airsoft bill in California - Editor - airsoft-orange-tips-364.jpg
(Airsoft guns are already marked in accordance with federal law. California's new SB199 bill will take those markings to a whole new level in the Golden State now that it is law)

After an 18-month struggle through the state legislature that saw most of the anti-airgun language stripped away, and the requirements on manufacturers largely lifted, SB199 passed the state Assembly by 46-34 on Aug. 26 and the state Senate by a 23-12 margin just after.

Now Brown has signed the act into law on the last day allowed to either sign or veto legislation presented to him for this year, despite opposition from many in the airsoft community as well as traditional gun rights groups like the NRA and California State Rifle and Pistol Association.

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. In news, mainstream news articles on the bill's signing Tuesday consistently refers to airsoft as "toy guns," further trivializing both the sport and the industry, adding literal insult to legislative injury.

This is something that the airsoft community has been opposed to in both act and deed for years.

"SB-199, as it is worded today, is asking the public to treat replica guns as if they are toys," reads on a post on a popular No on SB199 social media page. "The hundreds of millions of Airsoft replicas and Air guns, should be treated as replica firearms, not toys. Because 0.000000001% of the users decides to violate existing law, doesn't mean we need to take away all existing law that had been regulating the sport for over 150 years successfully."

The measure was introduced by state Sen. Kevin de Leon, who saw other pieces of legislation against real steel guns go down the pipes. De Leon, best known for his horrible news conference on what he termed "Ghost Guns" earlier this year, has seen measure after measure fail, two of them by Gov. Brown's hand alone. The Ghost Gun bill (SB808) was one of the few vetoed by Brown Tuesday.

Gov. Brown signs anti-Airsoft bill in California - Editor - ghost-gun-363.jpg
(This guy wrote SB199. Having gone after real steel several times and failed, Sen. De Leon also likes to pick on airsoft and airguns)

As related in a statement from the California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees (CAL-FFL):

"All of Senator de Len's major gun control bills in the 2013-2014 legislative session failed to become law. SB 53, a proposal to severely restrict ammunition purchases and create a new state ammunition bureaucracy within the DOJ, was rejected by the Assembly on August 30.

In 2013, de Leon co-authored SB 47 with now-suspended Senator Leland Yee, who is charged with violating federal arms trafficking and corruption laws. The bill would have banned semi-automatic firearms with magazine locking devices sometimes referred to as 'Bullet Buttons.' SB 755, a bill he co-authored with Senator Lois Wolk to expand the categories of 'prohibited persons' ineligible to possess firearms, was vetoed by Brown last October."

However, de Leon has been more successful going against airsoft and airguns. In 2011, he introduced in collaboration with Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck to require distinguishing colors on airsoft and BB guns. Though the measure failed passage in the Assembly Public Safety Committee, a similar measure, SB 1315 was later signed by Brown to allow cities within the LA County to enact local ordinances more restrictive than state law regulating the manufacture, sale, possession, or use of any BB device, toy gun, or replica.

Such is "progress" in California. Air guns are exempt from SB199. Paintball guns are exempt from SB199. Its just airsofters that are in the new reality, and they are already federally mandated to be marked.

Break out the paint and remember to become involved in your legislative process before the legislative process becomes involved in you.

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September 30, 2014  •  08:51 PM
Errrr... :/ will airsoftgi and evike color all of their guns neon before selling now? Nice summary of the bill :)
September 30, 2014  •  10:07 PM
September 30, 2014  •  11:10 PM
GI and Evike better move. This is an insult to our sport.
October 1, 2014  •  12:01 AM
Evike will probably move to Oregon, and GI already has a store on the East coast. Honestly a 2cm piece of adhesive tape on the handguns pistol grip,
(i) The protruding pistol grip.
(ii) The buttstock.
(iii) A protruding ammunition magazine

Is not a big deal....They aren't power ranger guns or anything.
October 1, 2014  •  12:12 AM
Only in California
October 1, 2014  •  02:50 AM
This still pisses me off, but it's true that a 2cm strip of tape on the grip, mag, or stock isn't too bad. It might mess up camo for some situations but a lot of fields use coloured tape to distinguish between teams anyways.
October 1, 2014  •  09:35 AM
I may be all the way out on the East Coast but my heart still goes out to you guys. Wish there was more we could do.
October 1, 2014  •  02:40 PM
I guess the ghost guns spooked De Leon too much.
October 1, 2014  •  05:28 PM
October 1, 2014  •  08:25 PM
Watch This it will clear some things up
October 1, 2014  •  09:43 PM
The first time a California cop is killed by some dirt bag with a gun he painted two stripes on will show just how useless this law is. Law enforcement will still react the same as they always have when they see a gun, 'cause they still wont know if it's real steel or not. The only way to legislate true gun control is to outlaw stupidity.
October 1, 2014  •  10:13 PM
@JoBro ASGI has a store in Virginia and are getting ready to open stores in New York and Texas. So they should be fine, Evike...
October 2, 2014  •  10:21 PM
Good thing I live in Florida! ^-^
October 3, 2014  •  07:25 PM
Only reason paintball isn't involved with sb199 is because De Leon is friends with somebody in the paintball industry. If you look at a milsim paintball gun (ex: rap4 t68), it's just as realistic as an Airsoft gun. Besides, cops are already trained to treat anything weapon-like as a weapon. It's the people being idiots with the gun that are causing these stupid bills.
October 5, 2014  •  01:43 AM
Wait, so is there no grandfathering in this law and we would have to alter the guns that we already own?
October 7, 2014  •  12:12 AM
I feel like GI is just gonna move to their Virginia location and have their main stock their.
October 8, 2014  •  10:38 PM
That's absolutely ridiculous. I watched the ghost gun video, De Leon is a freaking quack.
October 11, 2014  •  08:32 PM

I think de leon when he was talking about the 'ghost gun' was talking about how the lower was not serial numbered, thus, making it unregistered -- a ghost gun.
October 14, 2014  •  02:05 AM
To clarify some things...

-doesn't take effect until 2016

-real reason paintball and airguns are excluded is because they are older industries with larger economic impact so they could afford to hire lobbyist to act on their behalf

-airsoft is a really small industry relative to most things and the average person probably doesn't care and the subtle language of the bill about saving children lives is much more appealing

Let's be realistic, this bill will not rally enough airsofters to some how have De Leon lose his seat in any reelection. We're a small community and we really don't matter at this point. If we want to beat this we need to set positive examples and give back to the communities we're in. Be involved but be positive, don't just feed into any stereotypes of airsofters if they even exist in the lexicon. Also I've seen plenty of kids and parents be irresponsible with airsoft guns and I think it's our own fault as a community that we let this happen. It's on us.
October 14, 2014  •  02:06 AM
Also GI and Evike and other retailers might be able to just make their own CA legal version of guns to sell in CA and still be able to ship nationwide with normal guns. It's not clear yet in the language of the bill. It might not be in their favor anyways moving away from the port and all.
October 21, 2014  •  03:39 PM
@JoBro well airosft gi does have gi tactical in virginia. but i expect something about this bill will happen. amazon has some good stuff but not the best just so you know.
November 10, 2014  •  10:43 PM
Well, I'm just going to sound like every other person, but this is just stupid. I don't live in California but most of the good airsoft companies are there. This sucks...
December 7, 2014  •  02:17 PM
Mark my words, this is just a start. We as a community (airsoft and milsim) better get our collective *poop* together. Once we have another incident like the one in Cleveland or Santa Rosa (and there will be), we will be seeing legislation for "supersoaker" gun coloration on a national level.

For those of you who are unaware, this is the master plan! If they can get the young people to not have access to what they consider "toys guns" then it will be easier down the road to pass "real steel" legislation. Take away the youths guns and when they are adults they will have less vigilance and concern with anti 2A legislation. The irony is Europe (their chosen no-gun society model) has many thriving airsoft/milsim communities without crazy coloration restrictions.

The anti's have decided the battle starts here. Wake up people!