N.J. Senator Seeks Safety Panel Probe Of Gun Replicas

Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 24, 2008; Page A02

Amid concern about the growing popularity of look-alike guns, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has been asked to investigate safety issues, deaths and other incidents related to the firearms replicas.

The investigation was requested by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) after a Washington Post report Sunday that detailed confrontations between police and teenagers using the realistic-looking BB and pellet guns, some of which are known as airsoft guns.

In several such confrontations, police fatally shot young people armed with the fake guns, assuming they were real.

In Washington area schools, there have been dozens of incidents involving students and the guns. In Sterling in 2006, five 14-year-old boys brought their assault rifle replicas into Potowmack Elementary School for an evening of play.

Loudoun County sheriff's deputies responded with guns drawn. No one was wounded, but the Sheriff's Office issued a public warning about the danger of giving airsoft BB guns to children.

Yesterday, Lautenberg asked the commission in a letter to investigate injuries, deaths, confusion about whether the guns are real, types of guns, efforts to keep them away from children and compliance with safety requirements that they bear orange markings to distinguish them as imitations. He also asked the commission to assess current laws and regulations.

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