Will the apparent accidental shooting death of Tamir Rice by Cleveland police place stricter laws against Airsoft replica gun ownership?
By: Ringo Bones
The shooting of Tamir Rice, a 12 year old African American boy occurred on November 22, 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio. Two police officers, 26 year old Timothy Loehmann and 46 year old Frank Garmback responded after receiving a police dispatch call “of a male sitting on a swing and pointing a gun at people” in a city park. A caller reported that a male was pointing “a pistol” at random people in Cudell Recreational Center. The caller stated twice that the gun was: “probably fake.” Toward the end of the 2 minute 17 second 911 call, the caller stated “he is probably juvenile.” The officers reported that upon arrival, Rice reached towards a gun in his waistband. Loehmann fired two shots within two seconds on arriving in the scene, hitting Rice once on the torso.
Rice’s gun was later found to be an Airsoft replica, though lacking the orange safety feature signifying that the gun is not real. Rice died on the day after the shooting. His death has been ruled a homicide by the Cuyahoga County medical examiner. The tragic incident has yet to raise the question of the safety of Airsoft gun ownership in the United States.
In the United States under federal law, Airsoft guns are not classified as firearms and are legal for all ages. Although persons under 18 years of age are not permitted to purchase Airsoft guns over the counter in stores, however a person of any age may use one. But there are selected local requirements. Some cities in the state of Illinois consider shipping or distributing Airsoft guns illegal. Enforcement of local laws with regards to Airsoft replica gun bans is often intermittent. There are many fields and stores in operation and sporting goods stores regularly carry Airsoft replica guns. However a man was arrested back in 2013 for firing a replica gun / Airsoft gun in his own backyard.