A Democratic California lawmaker and leading advocate for gun control mistook the discarded plastic packaging of a BB gun as having contained a real firearm on Sunday and took to social media to recount his “disturbing” experience.
California State Assemblymember David Chiu was mocked on Twitter after he posted a photo of what he said was the “discarded packaging of a semi-automatic” but was in fact the packaging for a Glock 19 semi-automatic airsoft BB gun.
Remember not to litter your BB Gun packages folks, A California Assemblyman might see it and start grandstanding pic.twitter.com/cqmu5CeNtT
— 🌺 The Lost Legionnaire 🌺 (@SaltyCenturion) May 23, 2021
“Finding the discarded packaging of a semi-automatic on a leisurely weekend walk was disturbing, particularly during this month’s surge of gun violence in San Francisco,” Chiu wrote in his now-deleted tweet.
The packaging was labeled “airgun,” as many Twitter users were quick to point out.
Chiu represents the 17th Assembly District, which includes eastern San Francisco, where gun violence has surged in recent weeks. So far this year, at least 87 people have been shot in San Francisco compared to 35 by this time last year, according to police data.
Chiu deleted his tweet and appeared to dismiss the criticism of his mistake, saying the BB gun can “cause injury” and emphasizing the city’s increasing gun violence problem.
“I deleted an earlier tweet that misidentified a Glock 19 air pistol,” Chiu wrote. “While not a semi-automatic, it’s still disturbing to see remnants of a weapon that can cause injury, especially in an area where young kids play and while we are dealing with a surge of gun violence in SF.”
Chiu is a leading advocate for stricter gun control in California’s state legislature, including writing several bills pushing gun manufacturers to employ “microstamping,” a bullet tracing method that manufacturers argue is an “unworkable technology.” The method involves imprinting microscopic identifying marks onto cartridges that have been fired for the purpose of making it easier to identify the owner of the firearm.
“Microstamping is a commonsense, crime-solving tool,” Chiu said last year.
However, gun manufacturers have argued that the identifying markings from microstamping could be easily erased in a similar way to how criminals file off the serial numbers on firearms. The markings could also even wear off on their own from regular use, they said.
In 2016, Chiu also introduced a bill tightening restrictions on assault rifles.
Chiu is not the only Democrat who has made a gaffe on gun control in recent memory.
Last year before he was elected president, Biden claimed that “150 million people have been killed since 2007” as a result of gun violence, which would be roughly half of the current U.S. population. In 2017, fewer than 40,000 people died in gun-related injuries in the U.S., nearly two-thirds of which were suicides, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the total gun deaths in 2017 were the most since at least 1968.