DON’T BE FOOLED–BB GUNS, AIR-SOFT GUNS, AND PAINT BALL GUNS ARE WEAPONS UNDER THE LAW
BB guns, air-soft guns, and paint ball guns can be dangerous or deadly weapons depending on their use. Besides representing minors at school expulsion hearings, we represent minors charged with the use of these types of guns for the felony offenses of Assault with a Deadly Weapon, which includes Assault with a Dangerous Weapon, and Robbery. Both these charges can be filed as very serious felony charges which could subject your minor, based on their age, to prosecution as an adult. When any type of weapon is involved in an offense, especially a gun or imitation firearm even if inoperable, it increases the level of risk, heightens prosecution attention, and certainly could result in a harsher court punishment.
All school districts, State Colleges and the University of California ban the possession, selling, and/or furnishing any pellet or pellet-type guns, paint ball guns, lasers, pepper sprays or instruments expelling projectiles. Included within this ban are Spring Air-Guns, Pneumatic Guns, Pump Pneumatics, Gas Guns, and CO2 Guns. Students face serious consequences for the possession and/or use of air-soft type guns, up to and including expulsion from the school district. This applies while on school grounds during school hours, during lunch whether on or off campus, while going to or from school, and during, going to or coming from a school-sponsored activity. In addition to school suspension and expulsion proceedings, the offender may be charged with felony or misdemeanor offenses. A number of cities in California prohibit the discharge of BB guns and air guns within city limits. Many cities prohibit the discharge of any firearm or air-soft gun that forcefully discharges any type of projectile, including metal or plastic BBs, anywhere within the city limits. As such, use of air-soft type guns is unlawful and the violator, whether an adult or juvenile, is subject to arrest and prosecution under the provisions of the municipal code.
Air-soft guns and BB guns are included within the prohibitions for imitation firearms as defined in the California Penal Code. According to an article published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, “Non-powder guns-ball bearing (BB) guns, pellet guns, air rifles and paint ball guns-are extremely powerful and continue to cause serious injury, disability and even death to children and adolescents. ” (American Academy of Pediatrics, “Injury Risk of Non-Powder Guns.”) “The Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) claim there were approximately 21,840 non-powder gun related injuries treated in emergency departments in 2000. Between 1990 and 2000, the CPSC reported 39 non-powder, gun-related deaths, of which 32 were children 15 and younger.” “According to the CPSC, 80 % of non-powder guns have muzzle velocities (the speed of which the object leaves the gun) at 350 to 450 feet per second, and 50 % between 500 and 930 feet per second. A traditional firearm pistol has a muzzle velocity of 750 feet per second to 1,450 per second. Eye penetration can occur at a muzzle velocity of just 130 feet per second. Of the non-powder gun injuries in 2000, approximately 12 % were to the eye, 24% to the head and neck, 63% to extremities, and 1% was to other body areas. Most were males.”
FN Herstal is a world-famous manufacturer, designer and supplier of small caliber weapons. The M249, M249 PARA, and the P90 firearms have been featured in various popular video games, including the popular Call of Duty and Battlefield Games. Millions of purchasers have been exposed to these guns by virtue of their appearance in these and other popular video games, famous movies and television shows. Air-soft gun dealers like Cybergun, S.A. and JAG Precision market and sell air-soft guns and paint ball guns which are replicas of firearms designed and trademarked by FN Herstal. You can also purchase Airsoft guns similar to the Colt AR-15 type rifle used by Adam Lanza to kill 26 children and adults in a school in Newton, Conn. These companies advertise heavily to entice minors and adults to buy their products because they look like the real guns. Some of these air-soft guns have orange or colored tips which can be removed. There have been reports from throughout the country of police responding to a minor with a gun, then shooting and/or killing the minor only to find out later the minor had a pellet gun which looked like the real gun. Countless robberies have been committed where the victims believed they were being confronted by robbers armed with real guns. The courts have treated those robberies as armed robberies with a real gun. In many of those cases where the gun was not retrieved, the defense attorney argued the gun was an air-soft gun or pellet gun. Without the gun actually being left at the scene of the crime, the defense has lost that argument and the defendant facing extremely serious penalties. In California, use a gun go to prison. Enhancements of 10-20 years or life imprisonment for use of a firearm can be added to certain crimes.
WHAT CAN PARENTS DO?
1. Do not buy your minor a gun or imitation type gun, especially if you live in a urban area. Where is the minor going to shoot it? As mentioned above, a number of cities prohibit the firing of any such weapons within their city limits. It is illegal to sell any of these imitation weapons to minors or to furnish them to minors without the parent’s express permission.
2. Use the Boy Scouts or similar types of organizations that have controlled and properly supervised use for these type weapons. We have had clients who have excelled in paint ball competitions both at the state and national levels. In those types of organized competitions, the participants are properly clothed, protected and supervised. The minors and their parents can participate together.
3. Each semester review the school’s discipline policy for what is and is not permitted in the school zone. Impress on your minor that they are not to take any weapon into the school zone. It doesn’t matter whether they find it in a canyon or a friend gives it to them and they put it in their backpack to take home. The chances are if your minor displays or tells anyone they have it on their person it will get reported. Your minor will face expulsion charges and criminal charges for the possession of the weapon at a school site. We have had many cased of boys who have left their knives in their pant pockets, taken the knife to school and it has been discovered by school administrators because someone has told on them.
4. If your minor has a gun or an imitation firearm at home, keep it secured in a locked box and secure any ammunition in a separate locked box. Only an adult should be in charge of the keys for the boxes. Any use of these types of weapons should be properly supervised in a controlled setting.
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