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Paintball and the law

Tom

Tom
Nov 27, 2006
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Every now and then the law gets discussed
To put things in one place and as a spin off from another different thread please see some points in the posts below

.... Discuss

Anything I put here is my opinion and interpretation
Appropriate links and quotes will be included
 
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Tom

Tom
Nov 27, 2006
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I put some details into a different thread, and to minimize deviation am transferring it here
The original post is at:
http://p8ntballer-forums.com/threads/opus-finale-a-warts-an-all-exposé-of-paintballs-very-own-megalomaniac.170431/page-52#post-1560728

plus how many players will want to take their Rif's out of the country to possibly have trouble bringing them back
ukpsf had a clarification with the home office last year and publishing a letter with 2 possible exemptions from the vcra:

1) home office / dpp / courts may accept 'frangible' from other acts and totaly exclude paintball from the VCRA therefore a magfed paintball gun would not be a RIF or IF
(Basing the interpretation of a paintball gun as a firearm (therefore if it's a firearm then it's not an imitation firearm) and due to frangibilty and non lethal is not a licenced firearm

2) membership of a scheme may classify magfed players as 'skirmishers' and therefore be an acceptable RIF defence under the vcra
This would include but not exclusively be ukpsf membership
Rap4uk, magfed command scheme memberships etc would also most likely be considered valid

European travellers may therefore get a copy of the letter and carry their scheme membership details

Another concern is if travelling through germany without an f stamp

Scotland have introduced licencing to cover air weapons

There is a full review being conducted on all firearms, air weapons, vcra and related asbo legislation in the UK so all is subject to change

Thing is the skirmisher defence that airsofters enjoy because of ukara was set up before the vcra came into effect and is home office recognised, as it stands the ukpsf is the only body for paintball as a whole that is home office recognised so any other membership to a "club" wouldn't be valid defense as it would have been started after the legislation came into force.
As for the first point about the non frangible, paintballs are frangible but that'd still have no effect on other acts such as the vcra which goes on the looks of something rather than nature of what it does, the t15 for example is nigh on 1:1 scale with an ar15, saw a picture a while back of a tacamo kitted phenom next to an ar15 and at a glance it's hard to tell them apart, as a paintballer it's easier to but to any non regular player or member of the public it'd be tricky to tell.
But I digress...
@rexy

Note that I refer to the letter from the home office to the ukpsf
I will get hold of it and add it up here

The ukara was formed by the airsoft industry during the vcr bill as they liased at the time and secured the skirmisher defence. It is 'skirmisher' in the law and not the ukara.
Ukara and its register forms the industries defence from prosecution to establish an individual's skirmisher defence to buy a RIF
Ukara is not the only skirmisher scheme in UK airsoft

It is equally not necessary for a scheme or club to have existed at the time of the legislation to qualify for the defence

Rap4Uk were visited a number of years ago by a group of chief constables conducting a fact finding review
No surprise that they considered rap4 guns were probably RIFs but they considered that due to the non expert requirement in vcra that every paintball gun in stock could be a RIF in someone's opinion and recommended rap4uk think of a defence - noting that the defence may not stand up in law
Rap4uk then created a free membership scheme - join it on purchase or they would fit blue two tone parts
Rap4uk were slated by the paintball industry and players - until they explained why
More recently ukmagfed command established themselves with one of the aims of a defence for magfed players

Non frangible - my mistake with a typo
Non frangible would definatley not help!
I've corected the above
Frangible is an element which exempts paintball from some firearms and air weapon law. In the home office/ukpsf letter the home office has given that as a potential factor. This was the first time that was brought up to exempt from vcra
(Remember vcra was intended as a bit of an anti chav law)

The point on opinion on how a paintball gun can easily look like a real gun to anyone is spot on
Unless it is coloured as specified in the vcra then the definition of a RIF is what anyone thinks is real
By the word of law that pretty much means you could be brought to court and a judge decides it's not a RIF, but the fact someone thought it was real then legaly means it was a RIF
No longer innocent until proven guilty but guilty even if proven innocent
That is one of the points of the review to follow
 
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Tom

Tom
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A quick addendum, I knew I would miss something

The Crime & Security Act 2010 adds an offence if anyone under 18 has access to your property and you fail to reasonably secure air weapons
For the purposes of this act, it is assumed that it applies to paintball
You don't need secure gun cabinets, it can be any method of securing such as a locked cupboard, a box, a lock on your gearbag etc

This was brought into place following incidents which included a child's death with their parents air gun

If a minor gets your paintball gun then you are liable for its security and the offence carries a fine up to £1000



https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/117804/air-weapons-safety-leaflet.pdf
 
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Tom

Tom
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Ukpsf and the home office on the potential exemption of paintball from the vcra and RIFs

(Based on paintball being considers a firearm under parts of law and therefore not an imitation)

https://m.facebook.com/UKPSF/posts/532643633518379

I have been asked several questions over the past 6 weeks about the increase in the number of “more realistic” paintball markers being used. Just to clarify this is NOT a UKPSF quest against the Magfed style of play as has been suggested on some forums – I have a Magfed group who regularly use my site.

Please feel free to check this with Alex Munroe to see if I support his style of play. – These are questions raised by members who have expressed concern over “realistic type markers”.

The last thing the world of paintball needs is for a marker to be confiscated and possible legal action pursued against a paintballer for possession of a Realistic Imitation Firearm (RIF). What is needed is to clarify the law and have in the possession of the UKPSF a letter that should support a player in case of legal action.
These are extracts from the letter I recently received from the Firearms section at the Home Office.

“I appreciate your concerns with the status of the items and the need to clarity on the application of the law in relation to paintball markers

I thought it would be helpful if I outline that the definition of a firearm is any lethal barrelled weapon. Most air weapons, despite being below the 6 and 12 ft/lb limit are still lethal, but are exempt from certificate procedure. It therefore seems appropriate that any paintball gun that is an air weapon, and providing it discharges a paintball with energy of less than 12ft/lbs would be exempt from firearms certificate procedures.

The test to establish whether a weapon is Realistic Imitation Firearm (RIF) is based on lethality. Using the Home Office advice of 2.3 Joules for a single shot and 1 Joule for a multi shot, we believe that it is more than likely that they would be regarded as potentially lethal. However, the weapons would still be exempt as air weapons (assuming they are less than 12 ft/lbs as covered above) but are actually firearms rather than RIFs”

From several communications I have had over the years with the Firearms section they have always pointed out that “The Forensic Science Service’s view is that, as long as the muzzle energy of the projectiles fired from a paintball marker are below 6 ft/lbs for a pistol and 12 ft/lbs for a rifle, they do not meet this definitions (this is reference to Section 57 of the Firearms Act 1968) This is because the frangible nature of the projectile means that it will break up on impact rather than penetrate the skin. It cannot therefore be regarded as lethal.”

From these communications I believe that the “Realistic” paintball markers if fired below the levels mentioned above and firing a frangible paintball will not be classed as “Realistic Imitation Firearm”.

As with all advice offered by the Home Office “Only a court of law can make a definitive judgement on the legality but in the absence of a judgement we will maintain our view”
 
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Tom

Tom
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Scotland:

Scotland have had a pretty bad time with paintball ever since it began
We have paintball in the UK where it is today because of the struggle of those original sites being busted for firearms offenses because they used co2 and paintball was therefore illegal

In England the police turned a blind eye to the use of co2

Paintball guns are airguns (throughout the UK) even when they are co2 because of what they went through

But the latest for the Scots is firearms licencing, and this counts for visitors as well



http://basc.org.uk/basc-scotland/airgun-licensing-in-scotland-frequently-asked-questions/


http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Justice/policies/reducing-crime/reducing-violence
 
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Tom

Tom
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Everything is now subject to review:
http://lawcommission.justice.gov.uk/areas/firearms.htm



Status: This is a scoping project. We expect to start work on the project early in 2015 and produce our scoping report early in 2016

The current law relating to firearms and other offensive weapons is contained in a number of different statutes and statutory instruments, resulting in a confused and confusing picture and creating significant practical difficulties for investigating authorities and prosecutors.

In part, this is because the way weapons have been categorised in law and understood in society in the past no longer reflects present reality. For example, no definitions are given for key terms such as “antique”, “imitation”, “lethal” and even “weapon”. There is considerable overlap between offences, making it difficult to establish clearly which charges apply in an individual case. The law has also failed to keep abreast with modern technology, and in particular with the availability of equipment that can be used to convert objects into active firearms.

The implications are serious and wide-ranging. Experts are taking longer to classify weapons, prosecutors are struggling to select appropriate charges and there are many examples of defendants escaping prosecution on a technicality by successfully arguing that the weapon in their possession has been wrongly identified.

Public confidence in the criminal justice system is understandably dented when defendants walk free because the statutes designed to criminalise their behaviour are not fit for use in the modern age. This scoping exercise will survey the current landscape, identify the problems with the law and propose a range of reform possibilities. It will consider the enactment of a single statute, containing modified and simplified versions of all firearms offences and providing clear definitions of all relevant terms.
 
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Spikerz

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It's interesting to see other countries who don't have as liberal of a firearms policy as the US, and how they deal with Paintball, and even Airsoft.

In Ireland, there's talk that we may need firearms licenses in order to own a paintball gun. Which is utterly mind boggling to me.

In the UK are there any forms of license that are needed?
 

Dusty

Don't run, you'll only die tired....
May 19, 2004
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Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland has its own firearms laws and paintball markers require a full FAC to own. You can obviously buy a marker over the internet and have it delivere but if you're caught with a marker and no FAC then you're in for a spot of bother.

Very few people here have an FAC for their markers, I do actually through the rental site we own.
 
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Spikerz

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Interesting! So the Republic, has the 1 Joule law. Roughly 328fps? But paintball guns can go lower...or higher, so I guess they have to just be set at 300 fps or lower and it should be ok to own? It's a weird grey area, unless it's talking about the overall capability of the paintball gun, which would then make it a firearm and need the certificate.

It's really annoying actually. Lovely country, weird views on what constitutes a firearm.