Wednesday, March 19, 2008

First squirt guns, now airsoft guns on a helicopter!

On Monday I wrote about a quad rotor Microdrone mounting a squirt gun, currently in use by the British Transport Police. Today I ran across this video of a quad rotor helicopter with an independently aimable, camera equipped airsoft gun mounted on the top. It doesn’t appear to be a UAV in this configuration, and I’m kinda wondering why they didn’t mount the gun on the bottom of the aircraft. Still, it’s pretty effective looking, and not something I’d particularly want to be in the sights of.

From what I’ve dug up, the quad rotor platform is called the Pegasus (no relation). It can lift a 7 pound payload for 8 minutes, and once version includes a “garage” mounted underneath that can deploy an R/C scout car. More information about that can apparently be found on the forums, which has been down (for me, at least) for the last few hours. I’ll check back tomorrow, or if you notice anything, feel free to post about it in the comments

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Recent threats in Fort Collins put focus on airsoft guns

A man arrested for brandishing an airsoft gun and threatening people in Old Town this week and a February case in which boys pointed the guns at girls in a park have focused attention on the weapons, which are illegal to shoot in Fort Collins city limits.

Police arrested 18-year-old Adrian Campof-Leija Wednesday on suspicion of felony menacing for threatening people with an airsoft gun at the intersection of Linden and Walnut streets.

It’s the second incident involving airsoft guns that police have been called to in the past two weeks. The guns shoot plastic pellets or BBs and are sometimes used in a sport similar to paintball.

On February 23, police were called to Killdeer Drive after a couple of young boys pointed an air-soft gun at several young girls at Beattie Park. The gun was confiscated by a neighbor, who followed one of the boys back to his house.

No charges were filled and the airsoft gun will be destroyed.

It is illegal to use any weapon that fires a projectile in Fort Collins, including airsoft guns, accord-ing to police.

The guns are a danger to people, animals and private property, said Susan Vance, a Fort Collins po-lice officer.

They are also a danger to law enforcement.

“Some of them are so realistic looking that it's difficult for officers to know if it's a real gun,” said police spokeswoman Rita Davis.

Manufacturers make the guns with a painted tip to differentiate them from real guns, but that does not always help.

“Criminals can paint there guns so that they look like toys and kids can paint their guns to look real,” Vance said.

Airsoft guns have prompted Fort Collins police officers to draw their own weapons in the past, Davis said. No shots have been fired in these instances.
In cases across the country this has not always been the case.

A teenager was killed by police in Orlando, Fla., in 2006 after he pointed a realistic looking air rif-fle at an officer. Later that year a Chicago teen was shot by police when he brandished a BB gun.

These situations are lose-lose situations for officers, Vance said.

Vance experienced this when she observed two children playing what appeared to be an auto-matic pistol. She had to order both children to the ground while she checked the gun.

“It's scary for the officers because they don’t know (if it is a real gun),” she said. “We might put the people in a very uncomfortable position.”

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Two teens shoot bear and tiger at N.J. Zoo with Airsoft Guns

Two South Jersey boys charged with shooting exotic animals with pellet airsoft guns at a zoo in Cumberland County were released to their parents Monday after being held overnight at a juvenile detention center, authorities said.

A 17-year-old from Vineland and a 14-year-old from Bridgeton were arrested Sunday afternoon at the tiny Cohanzick Zoo in Bridgeton after witnesses saw and heard them shoot at a rare white tiger and a black bear, zoo officials said.

The boys, whose names were not released, were charged on multiple weapons counts even though they were only airsoft guns, said Kenneth Pagliughi, first assistant prosecutor for Cumberland County.

In addition, the SPCA signed charges against both boys for tormenting an animal, Pagliughi said.

The two boys allegedly scaled a fence and targeted a white Bengal tiger and a black Asiatic bear with Airsoft hard pellet guns, said Bev Greco, director of the Cumberland County SPCA.

Neither of the animals was seriously injured.

Witnesses called police who apprehended the youths on a road leading out of the zoo, said Greco.

As police approached, one of the boys dropped his Airsoft gun. Police seized another replica airsoft weapon from the younger boy, Greco said.

Both looked like realistic guns, Greco said.

"This could have ended in a very very bad way," Greco said. Several months ago in San Francisco, "two teens were mauled and another killed after tormenting a tiger. In addition, these Airsoft guns have been mistaken for the real thing by police."

"In both ways, these kids put their lives in serious danger," Greco said.

Kelly Shaw, the zoo's animal curator, found two hard plastic pellets in the tiger exhibit and three in the bear's compound.

"Thankfully, the animals had no evidence of trauma," Shaw said. "They both appeared well when I examined them."

Ganesha, the 11-year-old white tiger, has been with the zoo since he was four-months-old. Holly, the 12-year-old black bear, has spent her entire life in Bridgeton, Shaw said. Holly's brother, Ben, lives at the Philadelphia Zoo.

The Cohanzick Zoo is one of the last free zoos in the nation and is nestled on 10 acres in Bridgeton City Park.