SB 199 to make a hard hit on airsoft community

March 6, 2014 — by Atirath Kosireddy

When I tore open a flat, long box in the mail that was labeled “Airsoft GI” and lifted out my $218 airsoft gun for Christmas, I was ecstatic. Once I ordered the safety equipment, I could have battles at nearby airsoft fields with my friends.

When I tore open a flat, long box in the mail that was labeled “Airsoft GI” and lifted out my $218 airsoft gun for Christmas, I was ecstatic. Once I ordered the safety equipment, I could have battles at nearby airsoft fields with my friends.

Fast forward a few weeks, and I found out that California State Sen. Kevin de Leon has introduced SB 199, a bill that would demolish the sport of airsoft, all over the nation, since California is regarded as the hotspot of airsoft. The bill was introduced in response to the tragic shooting of 13-year-old Andy Lopez, a Santa Rosa boy who was shot by police when they mistook his airsoft AK-47 for a real gun. The orange-colored tip airsoft guns are required to have upon purchased had been removed from his gun.

The bill states that all replica firearms, or airsoft guns specifically, are illegal to transport, sell or receive. Anything that has clear plastic or is brightly colored is exempt from these restrictions. The bill was introduced in an effort to help law enforcement distinguish between a real firearm and an airsoft gun.

De Leon is the same person who showed up on national television and claimed that the “ghost gun” is “Capable of firing a 30 caliber magazine clip to disperse with 30 bullets in half a second. Thirty magazine clip in half a second.”

The most advanced gun he has knowledge of is apparently a NERF gun. It turns out that he, along other senators supporting SB 199, does not appear to be familiar with airsoft guns. When I visited California State Sen. Noreen Evan’s website, the co-author of SB 199, I was overcome with sheer frustration.

An article posted on her website quoted her as saying that “children want to play with toys. A toy should look like a toy and not a lethal weapon. Currently these copycat toys are manufactured to be virtually indistinguishable from real firearms.  Toys should not get a child killed.”

Also, I can clearly remember inspecting my airsoft gun and finding a warning etched on it reading, “WARNING: NOT A TOY.” And by law, no one under 18 is allowed to purchase an airsoft gun, which places the power of giving their child an airsoft gun to the parents.

If Sen. Evan is concerned about public safety, then she needs to consider that a disturbed person could paint his real gun to look like a toy and use them to throw police officers off, not to mention that there are pink and brightly colored guns marketed to children.

What distinguishes airsoft from paintball is that airsoft is meant to be a Military Simulation (MILSIM) sport and replicate realistic combat situations. Requiring airsoft guns to look like toys, which they are not, would destroy their purpose.

With California housing major airsoft companies such as Airsoft GI and Evike, the airsoft industry brings in $200 million into the state’s economy. Many players all over the nation who order their equipment from these retailers will have very few options to enjoy the sport, and the regulations could hurt California’s economy.

Additionally, airsoft is used in some forms of therapy so returning soldiers can overcome PTSD. Airsoft companies also make sizable donations to foundations that help returning soldiers back on their feet, such as the Wounded Warriors Project. When airsoft companies suffer, so will returning troops.

I have gone far enough to place my airsoft gun on top of a gym bag to remind myself to conceal it whenever I go to a nearby field. Why should responsible airsofters have to suffer the consequences of someone handling an airsoft gun irresponsibly?

Contrary to popular belief, airsoft does not consist of a couple of kids running down the street shooting at each other with plastic spring guns. Real, responsible airsoft games take place on designated fields sanctioned for the sport. These fields require ballistic full-seal goggles or glasses.

Even as an extreme sport, a person is less likely to suffer an injury in airsoft than from playing soccer, golf or football.

An airsoft gun are also the least practical weapon of choice. If someone broke into my house, an airsoft gun would be the last thing I would use to defend myself. Even if someone attempts to use an airsoft gun as a weapon, hitting the eyes is extremely difficult — a person armed with a knife is a bigger threat.

To keep the sport alive and at the same time prevent tragedies like Andy Lopez’s death, our nation needs to focus on bringing safety education about firearms, both fake and real, into the school system.

Banning or regulating airsoft guns makes as much sense as placing regulations on baseball bats — both can cause injuries when being misused.

Right now, airsofters shouldn’t limit their battles to the airsoft field. It’s time they fight to preserve a way of life.