California Bill Threatens Iconic Gun

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posted on May 19, 2011
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In the routine legislative mayhem associated with identifying and tracking measures at the state and federal levels that affect the shooting sports, firearms ownership and the Second Amendment, sometimes we can overlook a bill that, at initial scrutiny, appears innocuous. Upon further review, we grasp the far-reaching ramifications when we realize it impacts the very core of what we hold dear about firearms and gun ownership.

Such is California Senate Bill 798, which has quietly crossed two hurdles—a Public Safety Committee vote in March and passage last week by the full Senate—sending it to the State Assembly.

The bill requires "the entire exterior surface" of every BB gun, air gun and airsoft gun sold in the Golden State to be "white, bright red, bright orange, bright yellow, bright green, bright blue, bright pink, or bright purple, either singly or as the predominant color in combination with other colors in any pattern."

In other words, the bill would mandate airguns to have the appearance of toy and non-shooting replica guns, a fact that disturbs shooting organizations that strive to educate shooters—especially young ones—to treat every firearm with respect.

SB 798 is also opposed by many state airsoft hobbyist groups, which point out that those guns are used safely and without incident by thousands for re-enactments, skirmishing and maintaining firearm proficiency.

But what has many longtime gun fanciers most concerned about SB 798 is the impact it would have on one of shooting's most iconic guns, the Daisy Red Ryder BB gun. Introduced in 1939, the Red Ryder has sold more than 9 million units, easily making it the most prolific BB gun ever made. For generations, fathers, uncles and grandfathers have looked forward to introducing youngsters to the joys of the shooting sports by presenting them with this wood-stocked air rifle.

That tradition could be seriously derailed with the passage of SB 798.

"I had a Red Ryder when I was 8 years old and I want my son to have the same," Bill Jordan told the Visalia Times-Delta this week. "It's not right; it's not the way it's supposed to be. A gun is supposed to look like a gun."

Dwight Chaddock, vice president of the Southern Tulare County Sportsman's Association, went further, calling SB 798 an attack on the NRA, the Second Amendment and on Californians who lawfully own and use firearms.

"This is just another way bleeding-heart liberals are screwing up America," he said. "Guns aren't supposed to be bright orange. A bright-colored gun doesn't prepare kids for what a real gun will do."

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