Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Judge: Airsoft gun is a weapon

Feb 6, 2007 — It came down to the phrase almost everyone has heard at least once in their lifetime.
It could shoot your eye out.
An AirSoft gun might not be able to cause that much physical damage, but Judge John S. Kennedy determined Monday that the plastic BB-shooting airsoft guns, designed to be safer than traditional metal projectile BB and pellet guns, are capable of causing serious bodily injury - at least to the eye.
Kennedy had tabled an offered plea last week by 19-year-old Andrew Vaughn Pierson, who appeared in York County Common Pleas Court on charges of bringing a weapon onto school property, a first-degree misdemeanor, and summary disorderly conduct.
Pierson was 18 when he was charged after witnesses saw him with what was later determined to be an AirSoft gun at Red Land High School on Oct. 6.
After learning in court last week the "weapon" was an AirSoft gun, Kennedy - who said his son also owns a similar gun - questioned whether it qualified as a weapon according to the Pennsylvania Crimes Code.
Weapons listed under the weapon on school property statute include firearms of any type, instruments capable of cutting, nun-chucks and any "implement capable of inflicting serious bodily injury."
Serious bodily injury, according to the law, is anything "which creates a substantial risk of death or which causes serious, permanent disfigurement or a protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ."
In January 2004, York County Judge John C. Uhler, ruling in a juvenile case, determined paintball guns met the definition of weapon according to the school property charge if used in other than the intended controlled purpose. Uhler specifically addressed the action of shooting at someone who was not wearing eye protection, Kennedy said Monday.
Uhler's ruling was affirmed by the Pennsylvania Superior Court in December 2004 with the caveat that possession of a paintball gun that is used legally is not a crime.
Kennedy, relying on Uhler's ruling, determined Monday that AirSoft guns are "capable" of inflicting an eye injury that would meet the required definition of serious bodily injury.
Pierson chose not to challenge Kennedy's position and pleaded guilty to the charges, his public defender, Jeffrey Rowe, said. Pierson was sentenced to 130 days to 23 months in York County Prison.

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