Michigan’s legislature is poised to enact a bill that should be of grave concern for parents who, unlike GOP lawmakers, will immediately understand the true danger of this proposed law.
Senate Bill 85 will make it difficult, if not impossible, for law enforcement to distinguish between toy pellet guns and lethal firearms. The proposal previously passed in the Senate, and was just today approved by the House Judiciary Committee.
Rep. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) describes the legislation:
SB 85 maintains the prohibition on local gun safety rules for air guns or pneumatic weapons that were recently taken out of the definition of “firearm.”
I offered an amendment to require markings – like orange tips – to help distinguish between air guns and firearms. I also offered an amendment to allow schools to develop school safety laws regarding firearms. Both amendments were defeated.
Last December, the nation was outraged when a Cleveland Police Officer shot and killed a 12-year old who was playing with a toy gun. The child was shot within seconds of the officer’s arrival on the scene. Confusion caused by these toy replicas is a common problem, with police departments across the country regularly reporting trouble with determining the nature of a weapon. Just two weeks ago, St. Paul police were dispatched on a similar call, but thankfully they acted with discretion noticing the orange tip on the weapon, as reported by the South Washington County Bulletin.
A 16-year-old St. Paul Park male was stopped by police in the 1100 block of Portland Avenue after a resident reported seeing him with a gun March 6. As police approached he set the gun down. It was an Airsoft Pistol, clear plastic with an orange tip, and shaped like a Colt Model 1911 .45 caliber handgun. He was advised about the city ordinance on firing the gun in city limits. Police said he understood why he caused alarm and realized his mistake.
Another common occurrence is sightings of these weapons causing school lockdowns. Earlier this month, a New Jersey middle school had a lockdown incident triggered by an Airsoft gun. A few days prior, an elementary school in Kansas went into lockdown due to a child with the toy in his possession. And a couple of days earlier a Missouri school district had an Airsoft incident, but they didn’t go into lockdown because the problem has become so commonplace in their district. The Superintendent there explained that they have at least one Airsoft incident a year now.
Irwin described to Democracy Tree why this is so dangerous for Michigan:
This is part of a long-term trend to expand gun rights. Since we have very expansive rights to own and wield guns in Michigan, the opportunities or action in the legislature is limited to pushing a boundary that is already at its logical limits.
The crux of SB 85 is that it will prevent local governments from enacting gun safety regulations like orange tips on toy guns. It is regulations like this that can prevent the sort of tragic misunderstandings that have happened just recently. There was the incident in the Walmart and the prominent incident in Cleveland.
The Airsoft guns in the above photo were confiscated by me from my young son many years ago. They shoot little plastic pellets. My concern at the time was three-fold: I did not wish for him to grow up embracing a gun-loving mentality, the weapons look far too realistic, and conceivably the pellets could cause physical harm. My son is grown now, and not in the least deprived culturally due to my previous parental action. (It’s worth noting, the weapons came into his position through his friends. So, if they want them back, they’ll have to pry them from my cold dead hands. Sorry boys!)