Santa Rosa shooting sparks debate on realistic airsoft guns

The shooting death of a 13-year-old Santa Rosa boy has reignited a national debate on the wisdom of manufacturing BB, pellet and airsoft guns to look like firearms, and whether new laws or bans are needed to prevent future tragedy.

Critics have long argued that statutes governing what are variously described as "look-alike" or "imitation" firearms sow confusion and do little to protect the public and police.

Lawmakers and gun control advocates across California are now focusing on the death of Andy Lopez as they weigh whether to renew their push for more stringent regulations. Lopez was shot and killed Oct. 22 by a Sonoma County sheriff's deputy who reportedly mistook the teen's BB-style gun for an assault rifle.

"The tragic reality is that there will be more Andy Lopezes as long as these guns are manufactured to look like the real thing," said state Sen. Kevin de Le?, D-Los Angeles.

De Le? said in a recent interview that he wanted to consult with fellow lawmakers, including state Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, before he decides whether to introduce new legislation in January.

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