Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Howard County San Diego bans airsoft guns

Just when I thought this was over, it was brought to my attention that the language in the new Howard County hunting law outlaws toy “air-soft” guns in most of Howard County. I was about to save everything in the history file when I read the comment on the previous story (thanks Mr. Tinker). It’s like tuning dual carbs on a VW, just when you think it isn’t that bad, it gets even worse. Tucked away in the definitions section (well not really tucked, I was concentrating so much on the hunting provisions I overlooked it) is the definition of a gun as ”any firearm, rifle, shotgun, revolver, pistol, air gun, air rifle or any similar mechanism by whatever name known which is designed to expel a projectile through a barrel by the action of any explosive, gas, compressed air, spring, or elastic”. According to this, if someone shoots a spitball through a straw with a rubber band, it's a gun. It gets worse. I copied this directly from the law and deleted the parts that were changed for clarity.

Section 8.401. Discharge of guns--Prohibited.
(a) A PERSON SHALL NOT discharge any gun within the metropolitan district, whether the gun is loaded with fixed or blank ammunition or projectiles of any kind.
(b) A PERSON SHALL NOT discharge any gun OUTSIDE THE METROPOLITAN DISTRICT, whether the gun is loaded with fixed or blank ammunition or projectiles of any kind, except at varmints on the ground.

This now applies to air-soft guns that shoot plastic pellets. My niece and nephews have them, we shoot off of the back porch at their house at little plastic targets that mimic the black powder silhouette targets used in competition. They also live far away in a land where schools close for deer season. They will get to keep shooting off the porch, youngsters like them in Howard County will be breaking the law.

There are exceptions for law enforcement, target ranges, use in public performances and even inside a house with a target range but nothing about toys or air soft guns. According to how the word “similar” is interpreted, my original Battlestar Galactica colonial viper with nose mounted missile shooter could be a "gun". This is what happens when reaction turns to emotion and common sense is left in the dust in a rush to act. If I wasn’t so worried about the other parts of the original bill that were pretty ridiculous I would have picked up on this in the beginning. I hope this is a lesson for everyone on how carefully laws need to be written and scrutinized, and how the intentions of the well-meaning can have unintended consequences.

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