Pennsylvania lawmakers move to step up marking requirements for airsoft

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"In a situation where someone is defending themselves against a perceived threat, the determination as to whether a gun is real or fake needs to be made within a split second," says a Philadelphia area state representative who is backing a move to add more markings to a number of hobby, airsoft, and toy guns.

Pennsylvania lawmakers move to step up marking requirements for airsoft - Editor - philadelphia-police-gang-with-vehicle-543.jpeg
(Philly Police image via wiki)

The measure introduced would ban the manufacture, sale or importation into the state of any such gun that did not meet the new guidelines under penalty of a $1,000 fine per gun, per incident. The sponsor of the proposal argues that it is needed to help save lives.

"Our police force has a tough enough job without having to worry about encountering someone with a toy gun and making the wrong decision in only a second's time," said state Rep. Angel Cruz, D-Phila., in a statement earlier this summer. "There should be no need for the loss of life over a misunderstanding, and I hope my fellow legislators will agree and help turn this legislation into law."

Cruz contends the Philadelphia Police has shot 16 people between 2007-2013 while carrying imitation or replica guns without offering any sort of citation to that comment.

Airsoft Society conducted a few google searches and the only incident we can find in the state of a man killed with an airsoft gun was that of a possibly suicidal individual shot by state troopers last year in the Butler area on the other side of the state from Philadelphia.

We did find a story in February of this year in Philly area of a robber armed with a toy gun who was killed by a victim armed with a real .38, but the police only came in after the gunplay.

Further, a DOJ report on the Philadelphia PD's more than 400 officer involved shootings between 2007-2013 (the same period noted by Cruz) only mentions 6 individuals with toy guns shot by officers (Table 6, page 31, re-posted below) not the 16 as claimed by Cruz.

Pennsylvania lawmakers move to step up marking requirements for airsoft - Editor - chart-544.png
(Of the 59 "unarmed" people involved in PPD shootings from 2007-2013, 6 had fake/toy guns, though Rep. Cruz contends it's 16)

Nevertheless, Cruz says, "In a situation where someone is defending themselves against a perceived threat, the determination as to whether a gun is real or fake needs to be made within a split second. Unfortunately, with how lifelike toy guns have become, that decision is not easily made and can have life-altering consequences for both parties."

His bill, HB 1545, has six co-sponsors and would impart significant changes under state law to how replica and toy guns are marked.

First: "The entire exterior surface of the toy or imitation firearm is colored white, bright red, bright orange, bright yellow, bright green, bright blue, bright pink or bright purple, either singly or as the predominant color, in combination with other colors in any pattern."

Next: "The toy or imitation firearm is constructed entirely of transparent or translucent materials which permits unmistakable observation of the toy or imitation firearm's complete contents."

Further, the bill reiterates the current orange tip requirements and marking regulations already current. There are exemptions for prop guns used in television programs or theatrical or motion picture presentations.

While the term "toy or imitation firearm" is defined as any that is any device or object made of plastic, wood, metal or any other material which substantially duplicates or can be perceived to be an actual firearm, air rifle, pellet gun or B-B gun, its wording is ambiguous when it comes to airsoft as there are no clear cut exemptions -- leading it to the courts and state AG to figure out if it is applicable.

The bill was introduced in late September and is currently in the state Judiciary Committee.

If you live in Pennsylvania and are concerned about this, you may want to make sure the language is clear on HB1545 should it make it to law.

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November 30, 2015  •  07:33 PM
now that Sb 199 had its small victory it seem that it has moved to other states. Stuff like this reeks of the original Sb 199 draft.
December 4, 2015  •  08:10 PM
I'm pissed because since I don't have the money to spend on airsoft right now.The next time I get a gun will be after SB 199 is in effect. Now this is just starting to worry me. I just hope I'll be able to play airsoft in a few years without it being a crime to do so.
December 5, 2015  •  09:58 PM
Greeeaat.. of course my state had to be the next victim
December 7, 2015  •  02:18 PM
Soon to be the only state where it will be easier to be a rea gun than an airsoft gun.

If someone is dumb enough to rob a store/commit a crime with a fake gun, it's probably because they couldn't get their hands on a real one. Would it make a difference it I robbed a store with a shovel or a sword? I'm still issuing the threat of bodily harm with either.

WHAT A JOKE! Although the 416 would look pretty pretty sweet in HelloKitty Pink.
December 7, 2015  •  03:10 PM
This will accomplish exactly zero.

What's the sense in requiring airsoft guns to be marked in these wild, bright colors when real steel firearms are available from manufacturers, and with aftermarket options, to be customized with equally wild, bright colors?
December 23, 2015  •  10:23 AM
it should bee the airsoft gun owner's responsibility to treat the airsoft weapon as a real weapon in the sense that improper use or display of the airsoft weapon could get them in trouble with the law, hurt, or worse... killed! as an airsoft player and hobbyist myself i always carry my airsoft weapons in proper gun cases when transporting them. also if i go to play in an open field, woods, or etc, i will always inform any neighboring houses that my friends and i are playing airsoft and that the airsoft weapons can look very real but aren't. if it is an area that i am not sure that my friends and i can play airsoft in i will contact the local authorities to confirm that the area we are playing in is ok to play airsoft. the police usually have no issues with us playing in most areas and we have had a few officers actually join in as many police enjoy the sport too. the neighbors usually just want to check out the airsoft weapons and 99% of the time they watch from a safe distance. so again i say the airsoft weapon owners should be more responsible with airsoft weapons!!! if someone was to be hurt or killed by law enforcement, then it is the airsoft weapon's owner that is to blame for improper use or display of the airsoft weapon!! i mean come on it says right on the side of every airsoft gun that it is not a toy!!! be smarter about carrying and playing with airsoft weapons!!!
April 14, 2016  •  10:59 PM

Well said.