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Are Paintball Guns Legal?
Using the word "gun" in any context can quickly turn into a controversial topic, depending on who is around and their views. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, of course, but the legality of various types of guns is a factual matter. The law surrounding various types of guns changes from state to state and country to country, but in one context, they really are a necessity: paintball.
Lethal weapon or sport equipment?
You can’t play a good game of paintball without the star of the show, the paintball gun! This type of gun is not meant to be used for lethal reasons, is not intended to do harm, and is part of a professional sport and game that is meant to be enjoyed and used for entertainment (and, of course, a great workout for the mind and body).
What do governing bodies say about the legality of this piece of sporting gear? Are there any laws paintball enthusiasts should be aware of and take into account when choosing their next paintball gun or heading to their next competition?
Laws and licenses
In some countries, there are laws about who can own a paintball gun and how they can obtain this piece of equipment. Just by calling it a gun, there became a need for licensing to use it in some places, such as having a firearm permit regulated by certain governments. In many states in the U.S., however, the distinction is made with the fact that paintball guns are not fast enough of a shot, nor are the "bullets", or paintballs, considered an item that can cause harm. This is what sets it apart from an actual firearm.
There is a lot of back and forth among various state governments about the legality of owning a paintball gun, but most states agree with the consensus that a paintball gun can be used by its owner for its intended purpose on a paintball playing field, and that’s it. It usually cannot be carried around to public places.
In fact, there are many items, from tools to household kitchen items, that can be used as weapons to harm someone. Just because an item can be used for this purpose - rather than its intended purpose - doesn’t mean there is a need for specific laws about owning an item. A paintball gun is used as a piece of sporting equipment and has no deadly force behind it.
Paintball markers versus paintball guns
You may see the term paintball marker and paintball gun used interchangeably. Paintball guns and paintball markers are types of air pressure guns, where air is used to push the ball of paint out at a top speed to do its duty without the need for unnecessary harm. Not all paintball games are meant to simulate shooter-type scenarios, and in these instances, the term "paintball marker" might be used more generally. It is often a matter of personal preference.
As mentioned, some states may differ in their rules surrounding when you can be in possession of a paintball marker or gun. For example, keeping one in the backseat of your car may be forbidden unless you’re on the way to a scheduled game, and you must have the paperwork or receipts to show it is yours. It’s always important to check when you are playing in a new state if there are any specific rules or regulations to be aware of surrounding your particular equipment.
Anyone who has even ever toyed with the idea of playing paintball will know that there are important safety equipment pieces that need to be worn on the playing field at all times. Without some of these pieces, the paintball gun can become much more dangerous. There are serious safety rules and protocols at any respectable paintball field, and they will include wearing safety equipment, such as a Maddog Padded Airsoft Paintball Chest Protector, Tactical Half Finger Globe and Neck Protector Combo package, along with your safety mask.
It all comes down to safety. Keeping yourself, your fellow paintball players and the public safe is the main concern of any legislation surrounding paintball guns. Many paintball guns look just like the real thing, such as the Tippmann U.S. Army Alpha Black Elite Tactical Paintball Gun and can therefore cause a stir when seen out in public. Keep the gear and equipment where it belongs - on the playing field - and stay safe!