Wednesday, June 22, 2011

CA Senate Bill 798 Does Not Pass Out of Committee

Chris Raehl of the NCPA noted in an email to 68Caliber (and in a comment below) that the inclusion of the NCPA in the list of organizations opposed to SB 798 is incorrect. The NCPA currently has no formal position on the bill. (Best guest is that the name was not removed from the list as it should have been prior to publication.)

(Original article begins here)

Yesterday the public safety commission voted on the bill and it failed to pass out of committee on a vote of 5 to 2.

That was the amended version of SB 798, which had exempted paintball guns from the legislation, leaving only airsoft in potential trouble.

Airsoft agitators were pretty miffed when the California Paintball Safety Coalition (KEE Action Sports, Tippmann, DYE, Kingman, Giant Paintball/Hollywood Sports, and Mercury Public Affairs) got the bill’s sponsors to exempt paintball guns (projectiles over 10mm), proclaiming that paintball had thrown airsoft under the bus (and threatening not to assist paintball in the future in retaliation).

Yesterday, the 21st, the CA committee voted on whether to pass the bill (as amended) out of committee. From the pictures provided on PyramydAir blog, it looks like about almost a dozen airsofters showed up to protest (so much for grassroots organizing on that end).

The bill did not pass, but is scheduled for a future hearing. Most pundits suspect that legislators are waiting in the hopes that opposition will grow tired. (With only two major airsoft sites, a couple of blogs and a couple of facebook pages agitating, those legislators may very well be right.)

What is most interesting is that there appears to be a rift within the paintball opposition, a rift that was presaged by a message from the CPSC requesting that any interested paintball parties should work through them instead of approaching the California legislature on their own.

The “divide” may (stress may) be revealed by the list of non-governmental organizations that registered as either for or against the Bill:

Alameda Police Department
California Paintball Safety Coalition
Los Angeles County Sherriff’s Department
Los Angeles Police Department
Los Angeles School Police Department
Mayor, City of Los Angeles
Sacramento Police Department
Women Against Gun Violence


Airgun Information International
California Association of Firearms Retailers
California Outdoor Heritage Alliance
California Rifle and Pistol Association, Inc.
Crossman Corporation
Gamo Outdoor USA
Gun Owners of California
KWA Performance Industries, Inc.
National Collegiate Paintball Association
National Rifle Association
National Shooting Sports Foundation, Inc.
San Marino Police Department
SoftAir USA
S/R Industries, Inc.
Umarex USA, Inc.
Velocity Paintball
388 private individuals

Umarex is the company that was a party to the H&K trademark infringement lawsuits against companies like like Tippmann and Empire Battle Tested over MP-5 name and look infringement.
Crosman is mostly out of paintball but used to be in it big; the NCPA is probably under pressure from their constituency (how long before they start a Collegiate Airsoft league?) and Velocity paintball has been very vocal about the negative impact the bill will have on their local business.

The CPSC was formed by some of the heaviest hitters in the industry.

For what it’s worth, it is 68Caliber’s opinion that the CPSC made the correct tactical moves in fighting the bill: their job was to protect paintball and they found a way to differentiate paintball and airsoft, found an opening and used it. Was that throwing airsoft under the bus? Not when you consider the CPSC’s mandate.

It’s not moot; the bill will be under reconsideration in August, but for now, paintball doesn’t have to worry about it.

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