Michigan Lawmakers Vote to Allow Toy Guns to Look Real

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.

airsoft gunz

Airsoft Toy Guns

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!)

DSCN0444Amy Kerr Hardin


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25 Responses to Michigan Lawmakers Vote to Allow Toy Guns to Look Real

  1. Z54 says:

    The first time a Michigan Police Officer, Sheriff or State Trooper shoots and kills a child with a toy gun because of this law, I expect the state of Michigan to prosecute every state of Michigan Legislator who voted in favor of SB 85. It is quit clear that these people are devoid of anything resembling common sense!

  2. Kirk H. says:

    Orange tips are required on AirSoft and other toy guns by federal law. This bill wouldn’t change that. The only effect of Irwin’s amendment would have been to require orange tips on BB and pellet guns in Michigan, which seems inappropriate, as those are not toys.

    • admin says:

      True, but did you see orange tips on the guns in the picture? No, because they had been removed by the children. Local laws to require them may put their importance back in focus with communities. Local law enforcement needs some autonomy on this issue.

      • Kirk H. says:

        According to the author, those guns are many years old – so I suspect they predate the orange-tip requirement. From the few toy guns I’ve eyeballed in recent years, trying to remove the tip would pretty much break them, particularly if they’re designed to shoot soft pellets. The only thing this legislation really does is prohibit local communities from outright bans on BB, hard pellet and paintball guns, though it still specifically allows them to prohibit their use in certain areas. Read the bill.

        • admin says:

          They had orange tips originally. They were from about six years ago.

          • Kirk H. says:

            Still, would local laws prevent kids from doing that any more than the federal one does? I doubt it.

            I’m in favor of reasonable and effective restrictions on firearms, but this strikes me as neither.

          • Zipper 666 says:

            After all it’s not as though a child could go in Dad’s workshop and get a lick of black paint to cover the orange plastic…

            *eyes roll*

      • james c says:

        if the children removed the orange tips, they broke a federal law and should be punished as such. the law also states children under the age of 16 who is in possession of a pneumatic gun be under the supervision of a parent, a guardian, or an individual 18 years of age. all the parent’s in your examples are not supervising their kids, they should be punished per the law. there is more then enough laws on the toys, this bill is just reclassifying the toys as toys and not firearms. most of the kids in your examples could be charged under felony firearm laws in Michigan.

    • Narooz says:

      Yes they are. They are toys. B.B. Guns are toys. They are the yoy version of real guns. You turd

    • Chris Carpenter says:

      The point is, we have elected “lawmakers” who are idiots who think that this decision is “smart” and “in the public’s best interest”. Really, this is a marketing move foisted on lesser minds by the gun industry and the their lobbying arm, the NRA.

  3. Julie Small says:

    This is unbelievable. What next Michigan? How many of our children have to die before you get it?

  4. NoNoJoJo says:

    Brightly-colored tips on toy guns (including Airsoft guns) are required by federal law.
    Additional local ordinances requiring the same thing would be redundant, irrelevant, and totally unenforceable by municipal governments.

    This measure isn’t in any way changing the existing requirement that toy guns be marked, it’s just leaving it to the federal law already in place. Your headline “Lawmakers Vote to Allow Toy Guns to Look Real” is hyperbole and a complete misrepresentation. Lawmakers want nothing of the sort, they’re just leaving it to existing federal law.

    • William says:

      Local ordinances or state laws that result in prohibiting removing the orange tip gives police officers protection from shooting someone who has removed the orange plastic.
      Police couldn’t be faulted for shooting anyone with an “illegal toy.”
      Sometimes relevancy isn’t about enforcement.

      • Tom Zinke says:

        Federal Law only pertains to stores selling them. And importing and state lines to stores. I have looked this law up. I doesn’t pertain to the user once it is purchased.

  5. Della says:

    Here in CA a child was killed by a police officer because he removed the orange tip and when the officer told him to put it down he did not and then people wanted the police officer punished. These lawmakers are making the police jobs hard and one child killed will change not only their families lives but the officers too.

  6. pwlsax says:

    I see no point to this except to make it a lot easier to get shot, and a lot more excusable to shoot someone, for carrying a BB, paintball or pellet gun. Is there some convoluted 2A rationale I’m not grasping here?

  7. flexdoc says:

    Great. Then when some kid gets shot to death by the police those lawmakers can be held responsible

  8. Joseph heywood says:

    I just looked at the Senate Bill. I see no way this has anything to do with toy guns. Was there something in an earlier version that got eliminated? I know a lot of cops. Nobody is aware of this as it is reported.

  9. Joe Bud says:

    why is this a decision that individual states get to make. Make it federal law with toys that could be presumed to be actual weapons. Toy makers don’t want recalls. They would follow suit.

  10. Alexander Meyers says:

    As a black man this is troubling when I was a kid we weren’t allowed to play with toy guns not even water guns I didint understand why then but it’s painfully obvious to me now this legislation is a horrible idea and it will only lead to more senseless violence

  11. America says:

    well kids should not point guns at people if they were raised right.. i don’t care if its real or fake the kids parents should have gone over the rules/responsible rights of owning a gun

  12. Neil says:

    When was the last time you saw a CCW holder open up on someones kid for playing wth a toy gun? Police do it on a semi regular basis, maybe the toys and the kids arent the problem.

  13. Matthew says:

    Airsoft guns are not toys. Read the packaging, the instructions, and in some cases, the guns themselves. You’ll see the following written there:

    It’s because people keep calling them toys and buying them for their children that incidents like with Tamir Rice still occur. Stop calling them toys. Stop buying them for children. Stop blaming politicians and manufacturers for parental irresponsibility.

    You wouldn’t give a child a pneumatic nail gun or a chainsaw. Nor would you give them a can of gasoline and/or a lighter….because even though they have a lot of plastic parts, they, too, are not toys.

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