Last summer, a California police officer chased four teens with pellet guns that resembled high-powered weapons. A La Palma, Ca., officer, came close to shooting one of them, reports the Los Angeles Times. The popularity of the replica pellet guns has prompted a flurry of incidents in which officers mistook the replicas for more dangerous weapons. La Palma Police Chief Vince Giampa sought legislation to ban the air guns from being displayed in public. State Sen. Joe Dunn wrote a bill that is moving through the legislature. The industry supports it.
Cities across the nation have moved to restrict the possession or use of the guns. In Los Angeles, brandishing imitation firearms is illegal. The guns generally are banned in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Anchorage. In Baltimore, no one younger than 18 may buy or possess air guns. Airsoft is the fastest-growing producer of the replica pellet guns, which are popular with participants in organized war games similar to paint ball. The plastic pellets shot by the guns are relatively harmless.