Saturday, August 30, 2008

Key West to tighten airsoft gun law

The Key West City Commission is expected to vote Wednesday on an ordinance that would prohibit selling airsoft guns to minors and make it illegal for minors to possess them.

The proposed law requires retailers of airsoft guns, which fire airsoft pellets using either compressed air or gas or a spring, to acquire a $200 license from the city every year. The person holding the license wouldn't be able to sell the realistic-looking weapons to someone under age 18.

Chris Robinson owns and operates State of the Art. His store is the only place to purchase airsoft guns in Key West and strictly enforces an 18-or-older policy.

"Parental supervision is lacking," Robinson said. "Kids ... have broken into our store and stolen the guns." Robinson cited the availability of airsoft guns for sale on the Internet as a real cause for concern. "It's absolutely ludicrous.... Are they going to go after the Internet next?"

The law would also outlaw anyone from discharging an airsoft gun on public property, including roads. Further, possession of an airsoft gun by a minor would be prohibited in public places unless the weapon is securely and inoperably stored in a sealed carrying device.

Commissioner Clayton Lopez first presented the proposed law at a City Commission meeting Aug. 5, and was met with unanimous approval.

As it stands, anyone buying an airsoft gun must be able to prove he or she is 16 or older. Lopez said the rules are not being enforced.

"By putting it into an ordinance, we're giving teeth to the enforcement," he said. Lopez's proposed ordinance was drafted following two reports of minors misusing airsoft guns.

In May, a woman driving her car near the George Allen apartment complex was hit in the face with a pellet fired by a young boy. In June, a Key West police officer drew his firearm after an underage boy was found carrying an airsoft gun on Olivia Street.

Wednesday's meeting begins at 6 p.m. in Old City Hall on Greene Street.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Markieff Morris’ attorney enters not guilty plea in airsoft battery case

attorney entered a not guilty plea for incoming Kansas University basketball player Markieff Morris Thursday in Lawrence Municipal Court and denied that his client fired an Airsoft rifle BB gun out of his Jayhawker Towers apartment Saturday night.

According to the KU Public Safety Office, Morris, 18, admitted to shooting the Airsoft rifle BB gun out of his apartment Saturday. A 47-year-old woman in the courtyard below received minor injuries when she was hit in the arm by a plastic airsoft pellet. According to a police report, Morris was suspected of using alcohol.

Brad Finkeldei, Morris’ attorney, said the facts in the case haven’t been accurately reported.

“Most importantly, Mr. Morris was not the person who fired the Airsoft pellet gun from the window,” Finkeldei said. “He did not admit to firing the gun out the window.”

Finkeldei said he wasn’t able to comment further because of a pending investigation.

A Dec. 12 Lawrence Municipal Court hearing has been set in the case, in which Morris is charged with battery, although he could submit an application for diversion, the city prosecutor’s office said.

The case does involve the possibility of jail time, City Prosecutor Tom Porter said.

Morris also faces possible university sanctions if he’s found to have violated a student housing policy, which could include suspension from university housing, according to the KU Student Housing handbook.

“University code and housing policy expressly prohibits weapons of any type, including pellet guns, airsoft guns, and paintball guns,” said university spokeswoman Jill Jess.

A university investigation will address whether an Airsoft BB gun is considered to be a weapon, Jess said. Federal law forbids the university from discussing student disciplinary investigations.

Ken Farris, a distributor of Airsoft guns in Lawrence, said the guns aren’t considered weapons unless they’re used as such.

“These things can be used in a game,” Farris said of their intended purpose, “but it’s not a toy that you’re supposed to run around in public with or snipe people from windows.”

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Utah mayor calls ban on toy guns ridiculous

WASHINGTON TERRACE - Kids just want to have fun - but in one Utah town, they can't even play with a water pistol.
So a 14-year-old boy is launching a campaign to overturn a ban on certain toy guns.
Matthew Taylor said he was playing with friends in April when a police officer in Washington Terrace told the boys to stop using so-called airsoft guns that shoot plastic pellets.
Taylor enlisted Mayor Mark Allen, who says the laws in his city and Weber county that prohibit certain toy guns are ridiculous.
According to Allen, the laws don't even allow water or Nerf guns.
City council members in Washington Terrace are revisiting their ban.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Mayor calls ban on toy guns ridiculous

WASHINGTON TERRACE, Utah -- Kids just want to have fun -- but in one Utah town, they can't even play with a water pistol.

So a 14-year-old boy enlisted the mayor of Washington Terrace to overturn a ban on toy guns.

Matthew Taylor said he was playing with friends when a police officer ordered the boys to stop using so-called airsoft guns that shoot plastic pellets.

"He said that they're illegal within city limits. We didn't think that was very fair," Taylor told the Standard-Examiner of Ogden. "We put a lot of money into using our airsoft guns and didn't really want to give them up."

Mayor Mark Allen said the laws in his city and Weber County that prohibit certain toy guns are silly.

"We thought it was kind of ridiculous," Allen said. "You can't even have a Super Soaker at a family reunion to hold a water fight."

According to Allen, the laws don't even allow harmless Nerf guns that shoot foam darts.

City officials say they plan to lift the ban on private property.

"Of course, you can't bring any of those to school, but Nerf guns and Super Soakers don't hurt anyone, usually, unless you shoot someone straight in the eye," Allen said.

First, the city will calculate the projectile force of various toy guns by a feet-per-second formula that's still subject to change. And they want to distinguish between a Nerf gun, for instance, and paintball guns or airsoft guns that can leave a body welt. Elected officials said they were inclined to legalize airsoft guns, squirt guns, sling shots and Nerf guns.

Toy guns can look like real guns, cautioned Weber County Sheriff's Lt. Philip Howell, who patrols Washington Terrace.

"If police are concerned, they will assess the situation from a distance and approach cautiously if it still isn't clear," he said.

City Manager Mark Christensen said toy guns can draw objections regardless of the projectile.

"We get complaints about being hit by marshmallow guns," he said.

But Taylor said the good outweighs the bad when it comes to toy guns.

"We like airsoft guns because we can go outside and get some exercise instead of just being in front of the TV or computer," he said.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

South Jordan bans toy airsoft guns

SOUTH JORDAN, Utah (ABC 4 News) - One Utah city says it's safer because it is banning toy guns, including airsoft guns. On Tuesday night, The South Jordan City Council took the vote and decided that airsoft pistols are off limits in some places in the city limits.

The fake guns are not banned on private property, but in public places, streets and parks. South Jordan Police asked for tougher laws because of vandalism and because the airsoft guns look so much like real ones.

It came down to a vote on Tuesday night with no public hearing, but it wasn't without compromise. The airsoft guns are off limits in parks or other public areas.

"It gives our police officers the protection they need to be able to make the point that this is serious and that we don't want these things flying through public parks where someone could be blinded," said Aleta Taylor from the South Jordan City Council.

The new law provides for warnings for first offenses, but repeat offenders could face Class B misdemeanor charges.