Long gone are the days where a firearm was solely constructed from wood and steel, with finish options limited to little more than bluing and parkerizing. Today’s firearms are made of a myriad of materials, with countless options for finishing and metal treatments, along with a wide array of specialized coatings for both protection and aesthetics.
Recently a picture made it’s way around Instagram that caused quite a stir. Not another Kardashian posterior photo (there are an infinite number of those) or New Year’s Eve Mariah Carey memes, but rather of a custom Cerakoted gun from France. It was an extremely colorful CZ Scorpion EVO in short-barreled format, all done up with a Nerf logo on the side.
Setting aside that the contentious image is from a foreign country with different firearms laws than the United States, this is by no means the first example of an actual firearm painted up to resemble toy. Recently the “Glocktendo” or “Nintendo Blaster Glock” became a fairly popular custom build and was replicated by many. Competitive shooter Jerry Miculek (who should need no introduction here) actually did a video with one; he even dressed up as Mario.
Nor is this the first time this particular debate has occurred. In the 80s it was the opposite issue, with water pistols and toy guns looking very much like the real things. But there were certainly some issues with toy guns that looked like real ones—namely toy guns being mistaken for real ones. There were children shot shot by police unable to differentiate between toy and weapon under extant conditions, and some criminals used them as cheap (albeit nonfunctional) analogs for the real deal.
15 CFR Part 272 was enacted in 1988 that prohibited realistic toy guns and then further stipulated approved markings (like transparent materials for instance, and blaze orange muzzle, and bright coloration).
More recently we have airsoft, with many companies going above and beyond, intentionally going to great length to ensure the toys (or training implements, or whatever) look as realistic as possible.
Sure, most of them proactively have orange tips to designate them as toys but it appears it may not be necessary strictly speaking in a legal sense, at least federally (local laws always apply, and can and will vary). 15 CFR specifically exempts…
“Traditional B-B, paint-ball, or pellet-firing air guns that expel a projectile through the force of compressed air, compressed gas or mechanical spring action, or any combination thereof….”
Most would likely that airsoft and similar items fall under the aegis of these guidelines. But we’re not lawyers and we’re certainly not your lawyers.
Whenever there is a police shooting involving an airsoft gun, regardless if it’s a child or criminal that is fatally wounded, memes like the one immediately go viral on social media.
In 1999 New York City mandated that all toy guns only be in bright colors or otherwise transparent. They followed up this law in 2006 when then-mayor Michael Bloomberg banned brightly colored actual firearms because criminals might get custom coatings done as a form of deception.
Because, you know, criminals usually try to follow applicable local laws and ordinances when performing illicit activities [sarcasm, in case you missed it].
Duracoat was one of the coatings-du-jour the day, and Steve Lauer of Lauer Custom Weaponry (the producers of Duracoat) even launched a whole special NYC color schema called, “The Bloomberg Collection” in protest. And he continued to ship product to NYC (to the predictable mix of outrage and approbation from the public, depending on their “side”).
Meantime, as it happens, there have been some notable examples of real guns disguised as toy guns. Or rather, real guns hiding inside toy guns.
While we’re certainly not experts, it seems that this activity could only legally be performed if the firearm was first registered as an AOW under the National Firearms Act; other firearms that don’t initially appear to be firearms such as pen, cane, and wallet guns all fall under that banner. We’ll take a wild guess that whoever shoved those shotguns inside Super Soakers didn’t go through that process.
It seems very unlikely that a criminal, engaged in criminal activity, would spare much effort or thought to any of the extensive gun-related legislation out there. But hey, what do we know?
These days were have seemingly endless options for firearms coloration and customization. Cerakoting and hydro-dipping and anodizing and more. If you want a Tiffany Blue Glock you can order it directly from Omaha Outdoors. If you want a Sea Hawks themed AR? You can get that done too.
Some manufacturers have a signature colorful look. For example, about everything Cobalt Kinetics produces definitely appears non-traditional regardless of the color.
Another one that caused a stir in some communities was the recent appearance of a Glock coated in blue like a training pistol. At least one police instructor uses a similarly coated gun as a demonstration that you never can truly know what’s lethal and what isn’t.
We personalize automobiles, motorcycles, houses, laptops, cellphones, wallets, and more — so as gun ownership increases, such customization of our firearms seems like a natural progression. It’s not just hunters and the world’s special forces using custom coatings anymore.
Back to that original rifle in France:
Let’s Hear Your Thoughts
Do some consider it a step too far because of the factory logo, because of the color of the muzzle, overall coloration, or all of the above? We’ve covered a little slice of American history in this post. We’d be interested to know the thoughts of those arguing either side of the issue, at least so long as it’s intelligent and congenial discussion.