Ohio shooting leads to calls to increase airsoft regulation

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Following last weekend's tragic and controversial shooting death by local police of a 12-year-old youth armed with a defaced airsoft pistol, lawmakers in Ohio are calling for California-style regulation to mandate replica guns be marked in bright colors and fluorescent strips.

California's bad bill

This move mirrors legislation that sailed through the California legislature, SB199, earlier this year. Sponsored by well-known gun grabber Sen. Kevin "Ghost Gun" De Leon, the bill called to brightly mark airsoft guns in excess to the federally required orange muzzle cap. Although there are several pellet guns that look similar to real firearms, as well as paintball guns that are similar, it was only airsoft that is being targeted in the California legislation. The bill was 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 with West Coast airsofters.

California's bill passed the legislature and was signed without comment by Gov. Jerry Brown (D) despite grassroots opposition from milsim and airsoft groups in the state as well as the NRA.

Ohio shooting leads to calls to increase airsoft regulation - Editor - mp5-380.jpg

The Ohio move

After 12-year old Tamir Rice died in the hospital following a very brief and one-sided shootout with Cleveland police, uninformed members of the public started to blame not the police, not the youth, not the parents or society, but the gun: a $20 spring-loaded 1911 airsoft replica.

Then, within hours of the incident, Ohio state Democratic legislator Alicia Reece advised she would propose SB199-like legislation to the state House, saying, "If changing a color or adding a strip is going to save a human life, save a community or a city or state from losing a human life then I think the price is worth it."

The real problem

One key problem in the terrible accident with Rice that is often overlooked is the fact his airsoft gun had the federally-required orange muzzle marking removed. It is not clear who removed it or when, only that it wasn't there when recovered by police.

"Coloring the front end of air soft, BB guns or other air weapons bright colors does not prevent anybody from either painting over or taping over them and once again they appear to be real weapons," Robert Sacco the president of the Ohio Rifle and Pistol Association told WLWT.

Further, many feel it is a societal issue at the heart of the problem that, likewise, will not be fixed by a strip of florescent tape or paint.

Gabe Stitzel, with the Minnesota Airsoft Association, told media that airsoft guns need to be handled with care by teenagers, and parents should get involved.

"Airsoft guns aren't toys. They really shouldn't be treated like that. They should be treated with the same respect as a real firearm," he said.

Should the bill reach the floor of the Ohio legislature, which is Republican controlled, opposition by strong gun rights groups in the state may help derail it.

If not, Buckeye state airsofters could be saddled with their own version of SB199.

A domino effect?

After that, with two states down, there could soon be 48 more to go in the effort to marginalize and criminalize law-abiding milsim and airsoft hobbyists. Don't laugh, it could very well happen.

Earlier this month the Philadelphia City Council, in a nearly unanimous vote, decided to outlaw the sale, possession, or use of "realistic looking toy guns" to include BB guns and airsoft. Sell an airsoft gun in Philly-get a $3,000 fine.

We aren't kidding.

Gun control groups such as the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence champions SB199 and similar laws saying, "In addition to the danger posed by child misuse, these weapons also make it difficult for law enforcement to know if they are dealing with a toy or a real weapon when making split-second decisions in the field."

What do you think? Is more regulation or legislation the solution to the problem or should parents, airsofters, and the community work for more effective ways to make sure incidents like this don't happen in the future? Leave your comments below.

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November 30, 2014  •  11:28 AM
Well, this is the domino effect I expected.
Colored strips isn't going to make a difference, people will not check if their life is on the line like the police officers life could have been.
Parents need to train their children to be responsible, not idiots. This could have been solved with very little heartache if the child would have put down his "weapon" and raised his hands.

This is really a lack of training and common sense. Nothing more, and I personally would not like to be around someone who was acting like that with a gun. Real or fake.
November 30, 2014  •  04:57 PM
'Is more regulation or legislation the solution to the problem[?]'

Absolutely not. This is a matter of education. I read an article in which the parents claimed that the shooting could have been avoided if the officer hadn't 'acted so quickly', and it made my blood boil. If you have never been in a 'shoot-or-be-shot' situation, you should keep your friggin' mouth shut. Officers are *trained* to act quickly, *especially* in situations where a weapons threat may be involved. Have some common sense.

The parents should have taught this kid not to reach for his gun (what an idiot!) instead of raising his hands, as well as either prevented him from removing the orange tip or (since I realise orange tip removal is a thing) at least made him do something (like wrapping orange tape) to indicate that it was fake.
November 30, 2014  •  07:58 PM
Interesting... I thought this over, and I have my opinion made! :P

I thought of this open mindedly and looked at both sides.
The point that the liberals put forth is a valid one, to an extent. Thinking about it, it does make sense to change the color to ensure safety for the public. It also makes sense to make to do this simply to save ONE life. BUT the color isn't the issue, the issue (mind blown) is simply people. People don't care if a weapon is pink, orange, or red. They can simply paint the weapon over, the same way that young kid did. Now making it illegal to have a fully black airsoft guns/ toy guns sounds good, why? Because it allows the police to differentiate between a real gun and a fake gun, but still solving nothing, all this does is but the good people in misery, How? By making them abide to the law and having them have a dinky looking piece of metal/plastic that does the same thing as a black one, the difference? One looks good the other one looks dumb... So I have one more point, let's say changing colors doesn't work, this means the liberals (liberals because it is normally the liberals that vote for this junk..) will go one step farther. They will simply not allow airsoft guns/ toy guns to be shaped in the shape of a real gun.

Conclussion: You want me to have a pink air soft gun that doesn't look like a real gun that way we can differentiate it between real and fake gun... ;) well guess what! Jack the Axe murder will gladly follow that some law with his REAL gun! (I hope this makes sense)
November 30, 2014  •  08:13 PM
last time I checked isn't their a warnig on the box that says "must be 18 to purchase this firearm." they need to look at why parents are bending the law and buying airsoft guns for children and not watching over the safety of the firearm anyway.
December 1, 2014  •  02:50 AM
As I have stated in previous responses to this situation, it is a problem with society, not the item in question. As a society, people tend to shirk their responsibilities; they would rather blame someone or something else than to accept their own involvement in any situation. This is no different.

I have been following this situation since it developed, as well as others similar to it. According to the various reports, at least the portions that agree and the video that was released by Cleveland police, the kid was reported by a third party as waving and pointing the gun at people as they passed by in the area where the incident occurred. This is quite clear in the video as the kid is constantly pointing the gun at people, waving it around as if aiming toward some imaginary target, and being a general nuisance. It is unfortunate that there was no audio available on the version I saw.

However, there is an overlay of the 911 call that took place during the time of the video, which apparently the video and call times seem to match rather well. When the police arrive, all you can see is the officers exiting their cruiser; it really is not very clear if the officers drew their guns immediately or even issued any warnings, since there is no audio. However, it is clear that seconds after their arrival, the boy is on the ground and officers are approaching him with caution.

Here we have a perfect example of a bad situation made worse. For one thing, I question why this kid was allowed out with this gun, a gun his mother is quoted as stating she knew nothing about, as there are no guns in her home. She believes he received it from a friend. Why did she not know of her son's possession of this gun?

Second, during the course of the conversation with the 911 operator, the caller states he believes the gun may be a toy, so why didn't he determine this and pass the information along to the operator? Again, society's lack of taking responsibility. If he was concerned enough to call, why couldn't he just ask the boy whether or not it was real? Additionally, was this information passed along to the officers? Granted, suspicion of the gun's authenticity aside, under the circumstances, any hesitation on the officer's part could have meant the difference between him going home to his family or the boy doing the same.

Given that thought, there were two officers that attended the call, even if one did not shoot, and the gun turned out to be real, the other would definitely have shot the boy once he fired on the other officer; therefore, the potential for two deaths existed. This could have been a double tragedy regardless.
December 1, 2014  •  02:51 AM
However, the incident aside, getting back to the topic at hand, the problem is founded long before this or similar incidents occurred. The foundation of this issue begins when parents lost the ability to be parents, lost or gave it up, depends on how one looks at it. Governmental agencies and regulations that have erected barriers to negate a parent's rights to discipline and correct their children created a society that is either afraid to stand up to their kids, or fears rejection by them.

I have experienced this with my own son, his mother believes she must be his friend not his parent. I believe it is possible to be both, but I am his parent first, friend second. However, if I do my job as a parent correctly, I will always be his friend as well. Unfortunately, people like his mother allow the child to gain control over the adult and this results in undisciplined, unruly, spoiled, little brats that perform such actions as the ones this 12-year-old did that brought about his demise.

However, society has also created other issues that help to form the foundation of this problem, including taking away the educational systems that once existed and helped to prevent or at least lessen such incidents. I am 43 now, when I was 12, I had my share of toy guns, and they looked as real as any firearm of the day; in fact, I still have several of these.

However, there was never any doubt in my mind or those around me as to whether my guns were toys or not because I knew how to properly handle myself with guns. My parents and grandparents taught me the differences between toy guns and real firearms. Through this teaching, I learned what was and was not appropriate behavior. Unfortunately, as our society is becoming increasingly anti-gun, this lack of available knowledge is disappearing and therefore is unavailable at a time when it is needed the most.

To compound the matter, our schools have become fearful of something that was once acceptable. Shooting classes, teams, and competitions have become taboo. Today's "Zero Tolerance" policies fail to capitalize on situations that could be potential learning experiences instead of turning them into media sensations and excuses to further the agendas of those who would see America become a tyrannical nation with no freedoms and few rights.

One has only to view the news of the past several months to see stories of kids who have been expelled for "gun" related issues, such as the child who bit off parts of his Pop-Tart so it looked like a gun. Really?! How about the one where the kid pointed a loaded finger at a friend? Oh, and one of my personal favorites, the kid who brought a keychain sized gun to school, you know like those ones you get for 50 cents from the bubble gum like machines.
December 1, 2014  •  02:52 AM
Our society has become so ridiculous that we can no longer differentiate between what is logical and what is pure stupidity. Common sense, basic thinking, and even the general use of out brains is gone, lost, and long forgotten by so many that we have become mindless cattle following any who might dare to lead us, regardless of where they are leading us to, and anyone who has ever worked on a farm knows that cattle eventually get led to the slaughter.

For anything to change, it must begin where it started originally, with the people. We, as a society, must reclaim our world, we must open our eyes, and we must veer off course from the slaughterhouse, stop following blindly, and realize that we have had our heads in the clouds for too long.

It is not, and never has been the item that creates the problem, it is and always has been the people that cause or allow the problem to exist. In this case, changing the appearance of the item will not be an effective deterrent; in fact, if anything, it will only exasperate the problem because once this takes effect, those who follow the law will be ostracized for having such items, and those who do not follow the law will be considered as criminals.

Furthermore, as some have pointed out, what is to prevent someone from covering these colored sections is one side to consider; however, what is to prevent someone from intentionally painting a real gun to look fake? If I wanted to commit a crime, I could just as easily reverse this situation, paint a real gun bright colors, add fluorescent strips, or alter it in such a manner as to present what appears to be a toy.

I could then use this to commit crimes, such as robbing corner stores, gas stations, etc. and I would have the advantage because the person on the receiving end of the gun would likely hesitate because they don't know if the gun is real or fake. That split second hesitation could mean the difference between their life and their death. Same could be said for a police officer facing this same situation.

Would we begin training officers to wait until the gun's authenticity can be determined before they take steps to protect themselves? How many police will we lose because the gun appeared to be fake? How many kids and adults will get killed because they had a real gun that looked like a toy?

Again, addressing the item does not fix the situation, only getting to the heart of the matter will.
December 1, 2014  •  06:53 AM
1.) First off im glad i just moved from Ohio
2.) It was the parents fault
3.) "Ghetto" kids like he was wouldn't know about this law.
December 1, 2014  •  04:15 PM
Airsoft wasn't the problem. Anyone who would walk around and threaten people with an airsoft gun has problems internally. Even if he is just a kid.
December 2, 2014  •  11:59 AM
There should be a way for responsible airsofters to not be required to have these colors, through regristration or something. I personally would rather have to get a license to play airsoft legally than have to color my gun different colours that break the immersion and Milsim of the game that I thoroughly enjoy
December 2, 2014  •  03:59 PM
Wow, I agree with you Booger 100%. The old adage, "Don't blame the tool, blame the person using" is the perfect fit for the argument,
December 6, 2014  •  11:29 AM
Right, because people with ill intent would never try and disguise a real firearm...

SB 199 and similar legislation is pure folly. There are just too many ways to circumvent laws like this.
December 12, 2014  •  09:30 PM
This is more of a police issue that an airsoft one. Seriously, the responding officer made a number of mistakes, and the time between him arriving and firing was something like 2 seconds. And at the time, the kid didn't have the gun in his hands; it was tucked into the front of his pants. The cop had actually been fired from another PD for questionable performance, poor judgement, and instability (and with Police Unions, firing an officer is not an easy thing to do). But the Cleveland PD failed to do their homework, and thus were unaware of his issues.

Plus, I was under the impression that the airsoft gun was a clear plastic one, rather than a nice black one?
December 12, 2014  •  09:40 PM
@Jefzwang Yep, officer safety is ALL that matters. They should NEVER evaluate a given situation. If there is even the slightest chance that they will be in any danger, they should open fire immediately. Actually, why stop there? Anytime they have an interaction with a member of the public, they should shoot said member of the public. After all, dead people can't hurt cops, and we've already established that officer safety takes priority over everything else.

To be clear, I'm not some liberal who thinks the use of deadly force is ALWAYS excessive, and I would never second guess decisions made under fire. I'm a fairly conservative individual, but I have a real problem with a lack of accountability among law enforcement. Yes, their job is at times difficult and dangerous. THAT IS NO EXCUSE FOR WHAT AMOUNTS TO MURDER.

I have my CHL and carry every day.What do you think would happen to me if I went up to a (possibly armed) kid who looked like he was pointing a gun at random people, and proceeded to shoot him when he reached for it? Hell, we hold soldiers in war zones more accountable for the people they (wrongfully) kill than we do with law enforcement personnel.
December 12, 2014  •  09:44 PM

Criminals wouldn't even need to modify their guns. Already, quite a few guns manufacturers make pink and purple firearms to appeal to women (who buy them in droves; because apparently the "cute" factor is the most important one when choosing what weapon you will defend yourself with), and I've seen a few AR's with pink furniture as well.