Attorney General Lockyer Announces Governor Signs Bill to Protect Kids and Peace Officers

SB 1858 Prohibits Brandishing in Public Toys that Look Like Real Firearms

Monday, September 20, 2004
Contact: (415) 703-5837, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

(SACRAMENTO) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer today announced Governor Schwarzenegger has signed legislation that will prohibit the public display of toy guns unless they are clear or painted a bright color to differentiate them from real firearms.

"There have been too many close calls between police and kids playing with toy guns that look like the real thing," Lockyer said. "In a world still reeling from school yard shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado and Santana High School in Santee, kids playing ‘cops and robbers' with imitation firearms that look authentic place responding police in a lethal situation. This bill will prevent future tragedies by striking a balance between toy company commerce and public safety."

Sponsored by the Attorney General, the California Police Chiefs' Association. the Association of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs and the Peace Officers' Research Association, SB 1858 by Sen. Joseph Dunn, D-Santa Ana, will prohibit the public display of imitation firearms, including air guns and BB guns, that are so substantially similar in color and appearance to a real gun that a reasonable person would believe they were actual firearms.

The bill does not ban the imitation firearms, but prohibits them from being displayed in public unless they are clear plastic or painted a color that ensures they are not mistaken for a real firearm. A first offense is punishable by a fine of $100, $200 for a second offense, and as a misdemeanor on a third or subsequent offense. Altering or removing the required coloration or markings on an imitation firearm also can be punished as a misdemeanor.

In addition, the bill does not prevent prosecutors from bringing additional charges if an individual publicly displays an imitation firearm that looks like a real gun at a public building, airport or on school grounds. Exceptions to the bill are allowed for imitation firearms used in theatrical productions, sporting events or competition, and military or civil defense activities.

The bill also requires imitation firearms manufactured after July 1, 2005, and offered for sale in California to be accompanied with a warning label informing the purchaser of the law regarding public display. A manufacturer, importer or distributor who fails to comply with the warning label requirement would face a fine of up to $1,000 for the first offense, $5,000 for the second, and $10,000 for a third or subsequent offense.

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