Paintball guns are imitation guns which look like real guns and use expanding gas or compressed air to propel paintballs through the barrel. Those firing at a velocity of not more than 300 fps used to ‘mark’ participants engaging in paintballing activities fall outside Section 1 of the Firearms Act 1968 and do not require a licence. Paintball guns must use only approved paintballs and must not discharge more than one paintball at a time. It is an offence to carry an imitation paintball gun in a public place without good reason.
See ‘Gun law’ pages.
IDENTIFICATION Because paintball guns look similar to other guns it can be difficult to identify if a gun being brandished during an incident is real or a paintball, or other non-licensed gun. Victims of armed crime are traumatised and not surprisingly unable to identify the gun being used to assault them. Media reporting is unreliable and unless guns are fired or recovered and can be authenticated they are categorised as ‘unidentified’. Many press reports relating to unidentified guns are likely to involve imitation non-licensed guns*.
*The Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Bill
The Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Bill was passed by the Scottish Parliament in June 2015 and received the Royal Assent in August 2015. Under the provisions of the Act it will be an offence for a person to use, possess, purchase or acquire an air weapon in Scotland without holding an air weapon certificate.
1. PAINTBALL GUNS – FATALITIES AND INJURIES
A paintball gun modified to discharge pepper spray for law enforcement purposes and used for crowd control purposes in the United States was responsible for the death of a twenty-one-year-old woman who was shot in the eye. Targets should exclude face, eyes throat and spine. Due to claims regarding the inaccuracy of the gun involved several police forces stopped using the model. Paintballs can cause bruising on impact and participants are advised to wear masks to protect the eyes mouth and ears. Paediatric Ophthalmologists in the United States have called for greater use of eye protection following a rise in the number of children sustaining eye injuries from paintball and other non-powder guns.
2. PAINTBALL GUNS - CRIME
Paintball and other non-licensed guns are used to enable crimes including criminal damage, random drive-by shootings and vandalism. The consequences can be traumatic. Incidents can require police investigation, court costs, insurance costs and disruption to daily life. Paintball crime is paid for by individuals the community and the taxpayer. (See 5)
3. PAINTBALL GUNS - CRIMINALS BANNED FROM OWNING GUNS CAN STILL BUY PAINTBALL GUNS
Criminals banned by the courts from possessing guns, and those banned from possessing guns by virtue of having served prison sentences, can still buy paintball and other non-licensed guns online, from international suppliers, UK dealers and private sellers, second hand shops, forums, websites, newspapers and magazines, no background checks are required.
4. PAINTBALL GUNS – MENTAL HEALTH, ALCOHOL AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE
Paintball guns can be bought by individuals suffering from mental health issues and those involved in alcohol and drug abuse, no background checks are required.
5. PAINTBALL GUNS – CRIMINAL DAMAGE AND VANDALISM - COST TO THE PUBLIC
Paintball guns are involved in incidents of criminal damage, drive by shootings and vandalism to public and private buildings. There are financial cost implications for society and for individuals in terms of police time, the judiciary, insurance, local authority services, time off work, disruption to daily life, commerce, industry, transport. Paintball gun crime is paid for by individuals, the community and the taxpayer.
6. PAINTBALL GUNS – CAPABLE OF CONVERSION TO LETHAL FIREARMS
Paintball guns can be modified. (See 1 above)
7. PAINTBALL GUNS - IRRESPONSIBLE STORAGE AND THEFT
Paintball and other non-licensed guns are not subject to any safe storage conditions. They are left in vehicles, sheds, garages and on paintballing premises where security is inadequate and they are stolen by petty criminals.
See ‘Gun Law’ pages.