An Ohio legislator plans to introduce a bill Monday requiring all toy firearms to have brightly colored strips indicating they're fake after Cleveland police fatally shot a 12-year-old boy with a BB gun this weekend. Rep. Alicia Reece, a Democrat from Cincinnati, wants airsoft guns, air rifles and gun replicas to have fluorescent strips to "prevent future deadly confrontations," The Guardian reported.
Tamir E. Rice died Sunday from wounds sustained when a Cleveland police officer, whose name has not been released, shot him in the stomach around 3:30 p.m. Saturday. Tamir had been at the Cleveland Rec Center playground waving around a BB gun without its normal orange cap. The 911 caller who alerted the police said the gun was "probably fake," Cleveland.com reported, but when officers responded, Tamir refused to raise his hands and instead reached to take the gun from his waistband. Police then shot him.
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The incident is under investigation, but Reece's bill was also in response to the August death of 22-year-old John Crawford III, who was holding a pellet gun at a Beavercreek Walmart when police opened fire. "When we see in one state two incidents that have happened in a matter of months apart, there needs to be a clear distinction between what’s a real gun and what’s a toy gun," she told WLWT.
"John Crawford's Law" resembled California Senate Bill 199, enacted after police shot and killed two teenagers with imitation rifles. The California law requires toy guns to be brightly painted. Federal law only mandates that fake firearms come with orange tips, which users often take off, the Dayton Daily News reported.
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Ohio Rifle and Pistol Association President Robert Sacco told WLWT Reece's bill was not a good way to address the shootings. “Coloring the front end of airsoft, BB guns or other air weapons bright colors does not prevent anybody from either painting over or taping over them, and once again they appear to be real weapons,” Sacco told WLWT.
That's the issue, Cleveland police union President Jeffrey Follmer told Cleveland.com. Even if the weapon a suspect pointed at police was fluorescent, they'd react with force. "Our guys would still need to take the gun seriously until somebody puts it down," Follmer said.