Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Airsoft gun incidents plague campus

Campus Security is still looking for the people responsible for shooting students with airsoft guns at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa.
Recently UHM students have been the target of air gun attacks. Airsoft guns are air-powered guns, similar to BB guns, that shoot small plastic pellets. A dorm resident was accidentally shot in the face with an airsoft gun at Hale Lokelani last month according to Campus Security. The victim suffered a welt on his face but declined to file a report.
"I was walking down the side road, between Ilima and Mokihana, and felt a sting on my arm. At first, I thought it was just a rock. Then I was hit on the other arm. It stung and left a small mark like a mosquito bite," UHM freshman Daniel Galarza said. "The next day I heard someone shooting an air gun in the same area. It sounded like an airsoft gun."
A Gateway Hall resident adviser reported three men shooting an air rifle near the dorm. Campus Security was unable to locate any suspects. Another student was shot while walking to his dorm and filed a report with Campus Security.
According to the campus security log, a cat was killed with an air gun near Johnson Hall and Gateway House on Oct. 22. The shooter was never found.
"I know a few people who have been shot at. The other night someone shot at windows with a BB gun," a Mokihana resident who did not want to be identified, said. "I hope they add more security."
But the university has no plans to add more security.
"No extra security will be added," said Director of Communications for the Office of the Chancellor Jim Manke. "Dorm windows were shot at, but none were broken. We hope that students will keep their eyes and ears open and help us find out who is responsible."
Airsoft guns are banned from the UHM campus. Campus Security will confiscate any airsoft gun and file a campus report.
"If a person is caught shooting an airsoft gun, especially at another person, they would be arrested and the gun would be confiscated," Honolulu Police Department Lieutenant Mark Ross said.
Due to an increase in HPD reports of individuals carrying guns in public, a law relating to replica guns was introduced by the City and County of Honolulu and signed into law on July 16, 2003. Before the new law took effect, only people under 18 were banned from carrying a replica gun. It is now illegal for anyone to carry or display a replica gun in public. According to law, replica guns are defined as any toy or object that looks like a gun and lacks a feature that distinguishes it from an actual firearm. An airsoft gun is classified as a replica gun.
It is also illegal to discharge an airsoft gun on any public land or public place, except on a properly designated target range. Violators can be fined up to $500 and spend up to 30 days in jail. The punishment increases to $1000 and a year in jail for brandishing a replica gun in the presence of a police officer.
"It does hurt; it stings," said Lance Nonaka, the store manager at Power Edge Hawai'i, a store that sells airsoft equipment. "It's too bad that a few people are going to ruin it for other airsoft users."
Store policy states that a buyer must be at least 18 years old. They also rent equipment for use in the store's arena.
Anyone with information regarding the airsoft gun incidents is asked to call Campus Security at 956-6911. Anonymous reports can also be made on the Campus Security Web site at www.hawaii.edu/security

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