In a state that too often enacts or attempts to pass inane anti-gun and anti-hunter laws, the state Legislature is a step closer to passing a gun law that actually makes sense and may save lives.

The state Senate on Tuesday approved a law that would require toy guns, airsoft guns, BB guns and pellet guns to be manufactured to look starkly different from real guns. The legislation suggests that the guns be painted in bright neon colors or translucent so they aren't mistaken for a real firearm.

Police say that's what led to the death in October of a 13-year-old Santa Rosa boy. A sheriff's deputy said he mistook the boy's airsoft rifle for a real AK-47 and shot him. Such shootings are all too common, both in California and elsewhere.

An actor was shot at a Halloween party near Los Angeles in 2000 because he pointed a replica gun at a police officer. That should have convinced people of the dangers of carrying realistic toy guns, but instead the deaths have mounted. Two years ago, a 15-year-old boy was shot in his school hallway in Texas because he refused to drop what looked like a Glock handgun. In 2010, a teenager was shot by the Los Angeles Police Department when officers mistook his airsoft gun for a handgun. The list goes on.

A study commissioned by the Department of Justice found there are more than 200 incidents per year in which imitation guns are mistaken for real firearms.

The worst part about the toy guns is that guns aren't toys. Young people are taught that in hunter's education classes. They also are told that BB guns are the same as shotguns.

Airsoft gun manufacturers are no help, going for the "cool" factor with their realistic replicas. But allowing teenagers to walk on the streets with what look like pistols and rifles is just a recipe for a much more realistic response than the kids imagine.

The law, SB199, was written by Sen. Kevin De Leon, D-Los Angeles, and Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa. There's also nothing in the legislation that would ban airsoft guns or BB guns.

Keep in mind, this isn't gun legislation. It's toy legislation that might keep people from getting shot.

Before the 22-8 approval by the Senate, several Republicans said the bill could endanger officers because some real guns are manufactured in bright colors, and officers might let their guard down. Nonsense. They need to realize this is about toy guns, which have no business being realistic looking because guns are not toys.