Proposed Ohio bill would require BB guns, air guns to be brightly colored

According to, Ohio State Rep. Alicia Reese (D-Cincinnati) will be introducing a bill to require certain toy and imitation firearms sold in Ohio to be "brightly colored or have prominent fluorescent strips." This would apply to all BB guns, air rifles and airsoft guns. The proposed legislation is being offered in response to two shooting deaths in Ohio this year where police officers shot individuals who were holding these types of toy guns, mistakenly assuming that they were brandishing weapons.

The first case involved 22-year-old John Crawford who was shot by Beavercreek police while holding an air rifle in a Walmart store in August. The Cincinnati Enquirer published a story with the details of the case in September. Crawford later died from his injuries. The second case involved the fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by Cleveland police on Saturday. Rice had pulled an airsoft gun from his waistband outside a recreation center and a Cleveland police officer shot him. The gun's orange tip indicating that it was a toy had been removed. According to an article on, Cleveland police confirmed that Rice had not threatened police or anyone else with the gun. Another article from the site describes the shooting and investigation in greater detail, here.

A few other states already have laws that place limitations on the sale of toy guns. According to the article first referenced above, California has recently passed a bill requiring that all toy and replica guns be brightly colored. Arkansas also has a law prohibiting the sale of certain types of imitation firearms, and Atlantic City New Jersey's city council has instituted a ban on the sale of "realistic toy guns." While federal law requires that toy and imitation firearms be sold with orange tips in the barrel, these can be easily removed or painted after purchase, and Ohio does not currently have any additional restrictions on these type of firearms to make them more identifiable.

The legislation will be introduced in the coming weeks and then reintroduced in the 131st General Assembly in January.The president of Cleveland's police union expressed concerns about the proposed legislation, claiming that criminals may try to mask real weapons by painting them to look like toys. He asserted that the police would still treat even the brightly colored guns as a serious threat.