Paintball and the Law
[Updated February 2014]
This series of articles is not meant to be a substitute of the ignorance of the law in your Local, State, and Country. Please check your rights in your location before using a "Paintball Marker".
Please be responsible and vigilant in the use of your Paintball Marker. Make sure you are wearing protective equipment for yourself and everybody around you.
Safety Recommendations from Field of Armor Tanks:
Responsibility - Battler and Spectator safety is the responsibility of all battlers and the following rules apply at all times during a battling event, or transporting to/from a battling event.
Location - make sure you use your Paintball equipment in a "paintball friendly" location. Outdoors outside city limits/roads/houses, Indoors inside Paintball shooting range
Transportation - Always disconnect the gas feed. Ammo trays should be emptied and ammo safely stored in an appropriate container. Gas cylinders should be stored away from any heat source (sun or gas heater)
Protective Equipment - All battlers must wear a full face mask whenever paintball markers are armed. Fixed-position cameramen may forego a face mask when standing behind an equivalent shield. Always wear full face mask to avoid permanent eye or ear injury. A paintball firing at 275 fps (200 mph) might break the skin, but might only make a small welt or bruise depending on the layers of clothes.
Safety Precautions - Paintball markers may be armed and fired only when and where specifically authorized by the "Contest Director". At all other times, the gas ON/OFF valve must be off and the muzzle plug or muzzle cap must be in place. Barrels should always be directed away from traffic when not in use. Incidental firing sometimes occurs when dealing with solenoids and remote control firing equipment.
Shooting - A battler may not deliberately target or shoot at anything other than a vehicle, weapon system or practice target at any time, including other battlers. Violations of this rule will be dealt with severely by the "Contest Director".
Awareness - A battler must be aware of all objects down-range from a valid target at all times, including spectators, cars and building, and should avoid hitting them whenever possible. This does not apply to battlers who are standing behind their vehicles or weapons systems
Time-Out - If any battler announces Cease Fire then all vehicles must immediately halt and no markers may be fired. When the "Contest Director" determines that the game may resume, only he may announce Resume, at which point all battlers may proceed. A Cease Fire should only be called when a potential safety problem exists.
Some of the above rules are graciously provided by RC Tank Combat website http://www.rctankcombat.com/rules/
In the United States there are eight states that regulate paintball guns or paintball activities in a number of different ways, according to http://www.cga.ct.gov/2008/rpt/2008-r-0571.htm. Within these eight states, many different laws regulate the use and transportation of such weapons, and carry a variety of consequences.
In some states, paintball guns have been classified as a "weapon." Laws regulating the sale, use or transportation of weapons can and do apply to paintball guns in New York and New Jersey. A New York Supreme Court judge ruled that a gun using carbon dioxide was an "air-gun" and was within the aegis of the state's Penal Law.
Three states--Illinois, New Hampshire and Rhode Island--have laws regulating the sale of a paintball gun to, and the possession of a paintball gun by, minors. New Hampshire and Rhode Island both prohibit individuals under 18 years old from buying or owning a paintball gun, and Illinois prohibits those under than 13 from owning a paintball gun. A minor is only permitted to use a paintball gun while at home or at an approved firing range. In both cases, minors must be under parental supervision.
In states where paintball guns are considered a "weapon," the transportation of such guns is illegal or highly regulated. Pennsylvania, for instance, has imposed strict requirements regarding transporting a paintball gun in a vehicle. It is only legal to transport a paintball gun if it is emptied of all paintballs, the propellant source on the marker is not connected, the paintballs are stored in a closed container, and the actual gun is secured in a wrapper or box.
Many laws have been put into place limiting where a paintball gun can and cannot be used. It is prohibited to discharge a paintball gun by a street or road, sidewalk, highway, and in public land except for a target range.
Besides the laws listed above, other states have different regulations on the use of paintball guns. Delaware only allows the use of these weapons on a farm, New Hampshire allows schools to expel students for possession of a paintball gun, Pennsylvania prohibits the use of paintball guns outside a game or activity, and two states, Delaware and Virginia, permit towns to adopt ordinances relating to the use of a paintball gun.
There are currently eight states that have regulations specific to paintball. In Rhode Island and New Hampshire, it is illegal to sell a paintball gun to a person under the age of 18. Illinois lowers the minimum age for paintball sales to 13. In Virginia, individual counties are permitted to make their own paintball ordinances. In Illinois, paintball use is illegal, unless played on designated target ranges. In New Hampshire, it is legal to expel a student who possesses a paintball gun. In Delaware, paintball is designated as an agro tourism activity, only permitted on farms.
Pennsylvania has a number of laws aimed at paintball play. Paintball guns must be transported in the trunk or storage area of a vehicle; they may not ride in the passenger area of a vehicle. Property damage resulting from a paintball gun comes with a criminal penalty. In addition, it is illegal to use a paintball gun against persons who are not participating in an actual game of paintball.
In some states, such as New York and New Jersey, courts may define paintball guns as weapons or firearms, depending on circumstances. The New York Supreme Court ruled that a paintball gun with a C02 cartridge was technically an air-gun when it was used by a teen to harm another child. In New Jersey, a minor used a paintball gun to vandalize a parked car, and the paintball gun was considered a weapon.
In Florida, paintball players can be liable of negligence if they fail to comply with a few basic requirements. Paintball players must act within the limits of their own abilities and respect the original purpose and design of the paintball equipment they use. Players must also maintain control of the equipment they use, and refrain from any activity that may cause injury or death to a fellow player or bystander.
There are currently a few proposed bills in the state of Connecticut that have not become laws yet. One bill requires a 90-day driver's license suspension, as well as 120 hours of community service, for anyone who fires a paintball gun from a motor vehicle. Another bill is designed to prevent children from shooting a paintball gun near any home or vehicle. Another is attempting to prohibit the use or possession of non-biodegradable paintball ammunition on municipal or state property.
In Illinois, paintball guns are considered air rifles and are subject to the same restrictions. Dealers are not permitted to “sell, lend, rent, give or otherwise transfer” the guns to anyone under the age of 13. Also, anyone under 13 is prohibited from carrying a loaded paintball gun on public land or public streets. If an air rifle, including a paintball gun, is used or sold in violation of the age requirement, law enforcement officials can confiscate it at the owner's expense. In addition, a dealer who sells an air rifle to a minor under age 13 may be subject to a fine of up to $1,000.
New Hampshire and Rhode Island have similar age requirements to Illinois, but in those states, the laws apply to anyone under the age of 18. Both states require the written consent of a parent or guardian before allowing anyone under 18 to own a paintball gun and New Hampshire also allows schools to expel students for possessing them. There, someone under 18 can be in possession of a paintball gun only when supervised by a parent or guardian or on the way to or from a paintball range supervised by a responsible adult. In Rhode Island, violation of the law can draw fines between $1,000 and $3,000.
Age requirements for playing paintball and owning paintball guns do not apply only in the U.S. Several other countries have regulated the fast-growing pastime. In Australia, for example, age requirements vary depending on the state. Players must be 18 or older in Victoria, while New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory require players to be at least 16. In Queensland, the minimum age is 15, and in South Australia and West Australia, the minimum age is 12. In Germany, paintball is illegal for anyone under the age of 18. It is best to check into local laws before buying a paintball gun in any state or country.
Paintball Laws in the UK http://ukpsf.com/paintball-and-the-law/
Discussion on Paintball Laws in Germany http://www.pbnation.com/showthread.php?t=1245377
Paintball Laws in Australia http://www.aupba.org.au/2010/11/australian-paintball-laws/
Some paintball guns may be exempt from these public display restrictions if they are painted white, bright red, bright orange, bright yellow, bright green, bright blue, bright pink, bright purple or if they are transparent or translucent to the degree where their entire contents are visible.