It may seem crazy that toy guns would have legal restrictions, but airguns and other toy rifles are often made to look startlingly realistic. Kids may be confused whether they’re picking up their toy or a relative’s loaded real rifle lying around the house. Insolent teens may point their toy guns at a police officer in a standoff, prompting them to get shot by real guns. There is a general federal gun law for toys, but the misuse of these weapons has prompted several local municipalities to create legislation of their own.
Under federal gun law, airsoft guns must be manufactured with a 6 mm orange tip at the barrel end. The packaging must inform consumers that tampering with the manufacturer logo or orange tipped barrel could result in penalties. Individuals who use these guns as though they are real firearms — such as in a robbery or police standoff — will be charged as if the gun were real. U.S. law stipulates that no one under 18 can purchase an airsoft gun. These laws were put in place to protect law enforcement personnel and teens from misunderstandings, injuries and deaths.
In California, the toy gun law stipulates that manufacturers must put an orange ring around the barrel to distinguish shiny toy guns from real weapons. They must also warn on their packaging that the modification of the guns may result in legal ramifications. This year, on New Year’s Day, a retired Sacramento firefighter used a pellet gun to hold up a mini-mart and died in a standoff with the police.
A week later, another man was injured in Rancho Cordova when police responded to a 9-1-1 call and shot at a man holding a gun, which turned out to hold only pellets, not lethal guns ammo.
In California, brandishing fake guns as real ones is punishable by a $ 100 fine for the first offense, $ 200 for the second offense and is considered a misdemeanor by the third offense.
Not all kids take local gun law edicts seriously, however. In 2006, a Longwood, Florida student painted over the orange tip and threatened students at school with his airgun. The sheriff called to the scene also thought the gun was real and, as a result, shot and killed the student.
Dangerous or not, there is no reason for kids to bring these toy guns to school. Most schools have rules sentencing the child to temporary suspension or even permanent expulsion for bringing airsoft guns on school property. Parents should ensure their kids abide by the laws to protect themselves from harm’s way.