After a legislator brandished two authentic-looking weapons on the Assembly floor – causing an uncomfortable flurry – California overwhelmingly approved a bill banning fake firearms from being carried in public. The Los Angeles Times says the legislation was built on tragic anecdotes. Law enforcement officers have killed children and adults who displayed replica or toy guns. Police, sheriffs, district attorneys, and gun-control groups supported the bill. “I can tell you that law enforcement officers are scared to death of actually having to take another person’s life,” said Assemblyman Todd Spitzer, who brought the replicas onto the floor with permission from legislative leaders.
One lawmaker told of his 9-year-old son taking a toy handgun to a fast-food restaurant, after painting over the fluorescent-colored tip to make it look authentic. Restaurant employees called the Sheriff’s Department while the boy and his friend were in the restroom. “When they walked out of the bathroom, the L.A. County [sheriff’s deputies were] … waiting there for them with their guns drawn, prepared to fire,” said Assemblyman Dennis Mountjoy. The bill approved was not gun-control legislation, but toy control. It prohibits the public display of replica and toy guns on streets and frontyards, in plazas, parks, driveways, doorways, vehicles, restaurants, and clubs. The first two violations would be considered infractions, with $100 and $300 fines, and the third would be a misdemeanor.