If you're not familiar with the legislation that I'm referring to, do a Google search for "California SB 798" and read up on it before continuing here. I won't post it directly to the blog because I don't want that cheap, legislative smut downgrading all the hard work I've produced here. Open a new browser tab to do your search though, 'cause you won't want to leave the Pyramyd Airsoft Blog just yet. I'm anticipating the ability to produce at least one more entertaining and slightly off-color remark before this blog's end.
From the time I started writing this blog until the time I published it, things went south in a hurry. Apparently, there were 26 people voting in favor of this bill in its third & final reading in front of the Senate Committee on Public Safety who don't have the ability to assess reality and see the potential dangers this bill is going to pose for our public safety officers. And in true U.S. political fashion, these are the people who ultimately hold enough decision-making power to F.S.S.U. in a very bad way for the responsible Airsoft players like you (my favorite reader) and me.
I can't say I have all the facts here, but I do have some harsh words and a blog to plaster them all over, so I'm gonna go with that approach (1st Amendment FTFW).
I didn't know everything when I was 13 (nor do I now), but there were a few things that were pretty clear to me at that age. I will list a few of the more prominent things I knew at that age...
- I was starting to grow hair in places where there was no hair before,
- When it comes to defending yourself against bullies, violence is, most often, the best answer to "silence." (Sorry to all you free love hippies, but it's been proven all too often to refute with me)
- Perhaps most relevant to my discussion here today, I definitely knew that...
It's a deadly stupid thing to point a gun (real or fake) at an police officer in the dark of night or the light of day.
Even before I was old enough to comprehend the sweet, soothing qualities of Airsoft, my parents taught me at an early age not to point anything that looks like a gun at a police officer. I also knew that all it takes is one person, or a small sample (unrepresentative of the total population), to ruin it for everyone, as we are seeing unfold before our eyes. So I guess I can't be too shocked by the emergence of this bill. I've been concerned about this sort of incident occurring in the past and am surprised that in all the years I've been playing Airsoft, this situation hasn't reared its hideous head sooner.
Aside from the thought of having my Airsoft guns look like the neon or transparent fecal matter that gets excreted from the Big 5 & Wal-Mart bargain bins, I think I'm even more concerned for the law enforcement officers who stand to be affected by this situation in the worst way. If you really think about what CA Senate Bill 798 is proposing to do, it's likely to have the exact opposite effect. Coloring the exterior of one's Airsoft gun in bright colors will not be doing our peace officers any favors. The idea behind this is a noble one, no doubt, but it leaves many questions on the table. For example, is Senator De Leon's line of thinking that just because a law enforcement officer (LEO) sees a neon-colored gun, he or she is to assume it's not a real firearm and therefore NOT draw down on the person brandishing it and treat it as if it were real? If that's the case, then consider this scenario: under Senator De Leon's line of thought, the officer sees a person who has a neon-colored gun and then assumes it's not real. So he doesn't draw his firearm or if he does, simply doesn't utilize his/her training on how to react as if it were real, only to have the suspect raise the allegedly fake gun (because it's neon colored on the outside per the proposed guidelines of SB 798) and fire off enough real bullets (because it's actually a real gun that the suspect simply painted to look like a toy) to seriously injure or kill any nearby humans, including the LEOs. While that may not be the most well-written illustration of the serious problem this legislation will create, I think you can at least get a faint idea of the potential disasters we could easily be dealing with here.
Check and mate, Senator De Leon. Coloring Airsoft guns to look like toys STILL makes them look like real guns. Duracoat firearm finishes come in "Hello Kitty pink," too. This bill is a waste of taxpayer money, as Science has now shown.
Regardless of the color of the gun, law enforcement officers are still going to need to treat each and every object that looks like a firearm as if it were real.
So what's the point of SB 798 then? Riddle me that.
I think the root is this issue is the fact that De Leon's Bill is trying to classify items that are not toys...as TOYS! A toy is defined by Webster as "something a child plays with." Airsoft guns are not allowed to be sold in the U.S. to anyone under the age of 18 without parental consent. That's usually a pretty good indication that the item was not meant for use by anyone under the legal age of being considered an adult (children usually fall under this age demographic). Airsoft guns are more like "equipment" or good-looking "training tools." They fit into several areas of use, the primary being for use in military simulation events, or war games. Supporters of De Leon's anti-Clarity-of-Thought Bill would likely argue that because these guns are being used in a game, that it makes them toys. But they're pretty much the same guns, or at least very similar to, the models that government agencies use as "training weapons" to allow for government personnel to train with. Airsoft Manufacturer, Systema, is well-known in the industry for their elite P.T.W. Airsoft rifles. Well, guess what P.T.W. stands for, Mr. De Leon. I'll give you a hint: it rhymes with "Professional Training Weapon." Just like those awful movies that are so cheesy, yet still make it all the way to production and released into the public, CA SB 798 is so bad, it begs the question, "What group of individuals could put forth the large effort it takes to produce something like this, and not, at any point in time during that long process, question whether any of it truly makes any sense?" There wasn't ONE person involved in drafting this bill that said, "Hey, maybe this won't work because reality won't let it"?! Sweet. *fart noise*
Airsoft guns should be treated just like they were a real firearm because they are dangerous if handled improperly and can cause serious injury. The same basic safety principles for firearms are pretty much all applicable to Airsoft guns as well. If they get tossed into the toy category, it would seem pretty logical that any effort to maintain the general public mindset that Airsoft guns can be dangerous if not handled with care will be thwarted and, therefore, lead to more injuries & mishaps because new and/or uneducated users are treating them like toys (which aren't supposed to be dangerous), rather than training weapons or tools. Dumb. Just plain dumb.
It's alarmingly remarkable how little thought apparently needs to go into drafting up these bills that are going to affect not only the people in California, but likely people in other states that choose to follow our states atrocious example of gun control. As long as you quote Wikipedia, it's cool, right?
Here's a novel thought, how about we just enforce the laws & promote responsible practices that are already in place? Haterz gonna hate, and along those lines, law-breakers are going to "law-break" stuff. So why punish the rest of us? This is just S.S.D.D., I know, but apparently some people up at the top, don't seem to get the picture.
- LEOs should simply continue to treat all guns, whether they be real, Airsoft or toys, as real guns. Regardless of whether this law passes or not, they're going to have to do that anyway to keep from getting shot up by a neon-pink Hello Kitty assault rifle chambered with real bullets.
- Responsible users of Airsoft guns should continue to treat them as if they were real firearms and, while they're at it, NOT play with them in public.
- In addition, keep your Airsoft guns in cases with orange tips in place when transporting to and from your house. This is actually a good example of a Federal law that makes sense.
I suppose that rather than pissing and moaning about the ridiculous circumstances of this legislation, I should provide those of you who haven't seen the seemingly endless array of Facebook updates in your news feed with some information on what you can do about this situation.
If you are capable of behaving yourself and representing our industry, please feel free to contact your local Senator's office as possible to let them know that you oppose California Senate Bill 798, introduced by Democratic Senator Kevin De Leon. You can find your district by going here: http://senate.ca.gov/senatedistricts
It would be important to note that you do not have to be a California resident to voice your opinion and I would encourage anyone residing outside our state borders to get involved as well. Especially if your state has a tendency to follow in California's footsteps on matters like this.
As if Charlton Heston were smiling down upon Airsoft with at least one large-caliber weapon in his hands, according to a news update on their website, even the NRA has stepped thrown their hat in the ring and went on record to oppose this bill. That's how you know the bill is lame, not just for law-abiding California enthusiasts, but for Airsoft players everywhere.
Thinking outside the box, another option is to simply move out of California to a state that doesn't suck. Someplace like Aspen, CO, where the beer flows like wine (name the movie).
I won't sugarcoat this thing to make it seem like there's nothing to worry about, because there's plenty to worry about (haven't you seen Snakes on a Plane?).
However, AIRSOFT SHALL PREVAIL. It always does. But just in case it doesn't this time, it might be advisable to mentally prepare yourself to be engaging the OPFOR with a "toy" gun capable of firing in excess of 500 fps with a .20g BB in bright yellow, pink, blue, green, red or white so that Senator De Leon can further his career without putting any real thought to the people he's going to be affecting. If that doesn't sound like a raging good time to you, perhaps brushing up on your communication skills, contacting your local district Senator's office and letting them know you oppose the bill might be the way to go. Watch Brian Holt's video posted above for a good example on how to do this.