“Is that you, Erik?”
I pass on an old newspaper cutting to Erik with headlines —“Police arrest man after threatening a security guard with a paintball gun in Downtown Seattle.” We were painting some papers for the next day’s Halloween party.
“Oh, come on, mate… but is it legal to shoot people not wearing a mask out in public venues with a paintball gun, right?”
I advised my dearest friend to restrict his naughty plans like Mr. Bean; sometimes, the team has to face the consequences. He doesn’t understand that outsiders are not his friend, and he could end up in a correctional facility in Mississippi.
At this moment, I thought on writing the legal perspective of owning and playing with a paintball gun to clear doubts among the fellow paintballers.
Is A Paintball Gun Considered A Firearm?
The federal government law defines firearms differently; firearms are weapons that discharge a bullet by an explosive reaction, according to the Bureau of ATF. Paintball guns do not fit this status and are thus not classified as firearms by the federal government.
But some states, such as New Jersey and New York, consider paintball guns to be weapons and have various laws governing their ownership and use. If you live in one of these states, you may be required to go through the same procedures for purchasing and owning a paintball gun as you would for a handgun.
A paintball gun, while not a firearm under federal law, is still classed as a weapon under New Jersey law since it is capable of causing physical harm. As a result, individuals and even children who believe they are only playing with a toy gun may find themselves in the legal bar for charges such as unlawful possession of a weapon for an unethical intention.
In California, shooting someone with a paintball gun without their knowledge or consent outside of an approved play area may be deemed assault and result in sanctions.
Can You Legally Own A Paintball Gun?
Depending on state laws, a paintball gun is reviewed as a weapon and might be restricted if carried by someone who is not authorized to do so.
Paintball is out of the red eye of federal laws, but the green signal depends on specific states and local laws. Every year Florida and Connecticut police request several citizens to stop street fights with paintballs, and they received hundreds of complaints in 911.
Paintball guns are designated as weapons in some states, including New Jersey and New York. As a result, purchasing and possessing a paintball gun in these states follows the same rules as purchasing and possessing a firearm. Meanwhile, paintball guns are known as imitation firearms in California.
Florida and Texas have some restrictions on using it outside the playground territory, or you need permission to play in a public place. Police consider it a criminal offense if you fire a gun on an unwilling person or create an obstacle to their free movement.
In 2008, Connecticut banned paintball guns under 18 without adult supervision.
What Is The Minimum Age Requirement For Paintball Guns?
Age restrictions depend on the state law, local regulations, insurance, and individual players. Some US states don’t have any age limit to access a paintball gun. However, Experts recommend that participants be 18 or older for conventional paintball and 8 for Low Impact Paintball.
Some states consider the paintball as a firearm; they allow a minimum of 18 years old to access the gun. New York restricts those under 18, whereas Connecticut allows those under 18 to play at home under their parent’s guidance. Some parks in Illinois have an age restriction of a minimum of 10, but the state assembly set the age limit of 13.
Parks of New Hampshire allow low-impact paintball for ages 9, but under-18 players must sign a consent form from parents. Some jurisdictions, for example, may make it illegal for anybody under the age of 16 or 18 to buy or use paintball toy guns.
Suggested Read: Best Paintball Guns Of All Time
Do You Need A License For A Paintball Gun?
License requirement is determined by the state where you reside or intend to play paintball. In some areas, such as New Jersey and New York, where a paintball gun is considered a weapon, you must have a permit or license. In general, jurisdictions that consider paintball guns to be weapons will almost certainly need you to get a license before you can own one.
You may be required to pass other standards depending on the state where you intend to use a paintball gun. Some states will require you to complete and submit a firearms safety course certificate.
General Rules & Regulations To Own & Use Paintball Guns
Here are some of the essential laws, rules, and regulations that govern the use of imitation firearms like paintball guns —
- Check license agreement: Always check if the state asks for a license or not for paintball. Local insurance bodies can help you.
- Age limitation: Many local states or jurisdictions have age restrictions for paintballing. In some cases, individuals under an age limit are not allowed to purchase or use paintball.
- Safety gear: The use of protective gear, such as chest protectors and knee pads, is often required when playing paintball.
- Public restrictions: In some jurisdictions, paintball guns may be restricted or prohibited in public areas, such as public parks or residential areas.
- Transport restrictions: In some cases, there may be restrictions on how paintball guns are transported or demonstrated, such as not allowing them to be carried in public areas.
You can also check rules of paintball games to prepare in advance and play well.
Frequently Asked Questions
Shooting someone with a paintball gun outside a designated paintball park or in a manner that causes injury is illegal. Several state police issues advisory with warnings of the arrest. It would help if you investigated the law or any updated advisory.
Check your state laws and always avoid using a paintball gun at a private property without permission, schools and government buildings, residential areas and public properties. Also never misuse it for unethical purposes to avoid serious legal consequences.
Yes and No as well! The ability to shoot a paintball gun in your backyard is determined by several criteria, including local state laws, regulations and the organizing body’s guidelines. Using a paintball gun on private property in some regions may be permissible, but it may be limited or outlawed in others. Before using a paintball gun in your backyard, investigate and understand the local laws and regulations.
Paintball guns are an easy self-defense option for anyone who chooses not to carry a handgun or is opposed to causing irreversible injury to an attacker. These guns are a less scary and less damaging option for people looking to defend themselves. You may get time to call 911 meanwhile.
So, we see the legality of paintball weapons in the United States is determined by various variables, including state and local regulations, as well as the intended purpose of the paintball gun. Sometimes local police revise norms as per recent developments or cases.
While paintball guns are generally considered lawful, they may be subject to limitations such as age requirements, background checks, and bans on using paintball guns in public places.
The irony is now law enforcement bodies also use paintball guns (George Floyd protest in Washington) to disperse crowds! It is some hidden danger when it fires on unsuspecting people without protection.
Remember, rules are not for restriction but more for safety. Happy paintballing!