Wednesday, February 15, 2012

To bear, or not to bear, Airsoft arms

Airsoft guns.

Chances are that you have heard of them. The replica airsoft guns are meant for adults and young people who want to have fun without the dangers real guns. However, some critics say Airsoft guns are just as dangerous as real ones.

Airsoft guns were created in Hong Kong and Japan in the late 70's. Civilians there weren't allowed to own guns so manufacturers made some airsoft guns that looked just like them. Decades later, they're incredibly popular, especially with young people. And for some people, that's where the problem lies. Currently, an increasing number of states is cracking down on Airsoft guns. Critics have said the airsoft guns look too real. Advocates have said that reasoning is unfair.

A quick Google search generates story after story of children who have been arrested or killed after brandishing an Airsoft gun in public. Last December, a teenager in Texas was shot and killed by police after bringing an airsoft pellet gun to school and saying that it was a real one.

A similar incident happened in the Tri-State weeks ago.

"The man who pointed a replica [airsoft] handgun at a police officer and ended up losing his life," said Cincinnati Police Chief James Craig.

Chief Craig said the problem is easy access: the ability to buy airsoft pellet guns online and at local shops. All Airsoft guns must have six millimeter orange tips. Chief Craig said there are some positive uses for the airsoft pellet guns. About six months ago, Cincinnati police specialists bought several Airsoft guns to use in training.

However, on the other side of the issue, thousands, if not millions, of people worry their current easy access to the airsoft guns could soon change. Lawmakers in state after state have begun enacting laws prohibiting the sale and/or use of Airsoft guns.

Tri-state resident Terry Dull, 55, is one of those people.

Dull lives to attend airsoft events. The civil engineer spends days painting and staining his Airsoft guns. He makes them look as real as possible. He has several Airsoft guns, including an airsoft M4 and a Tommy gun. He started collecting real guns when he was 16. He started collecting Airsoft guns a few years ago.

Dull said there are thousands of veterans who participate in military simulation events, also called "Mil Sim". It's a fancy term for war re-enactments. Participants wear camouflage and can spend hours, if not days, at the events.

Dull said Airsoft guns also allow him to get in some extra practice at home.

"The other thing that I get to do that I can't do with my real guns is that I can do target shooting in my backyard," said Dull. "I'm a big believer in the right to keep and bear arms."

While Chief Craig believes in the second amendment, as well, he said there still needs to be more rules.

"I think there needs to be more regulation on it," said Chief Craig.

Dull disagrees. Dull said more laws aren't needed because potential buyers already must be at least 18 years old to buy an Airsoft gun.

Fox19 decided to put that to the test.

We sent a 14-year-old to two stores: one privately owned smaller airsoft store and one chain airsoft store. The cashier at the smaller store wouldn't sell the Airsoft gun to the teenager, but the juvenile was able to buy an Airsoft pistol at the chain store.

"Well, then they should not be allowed to sell air soft guns," Dull said.

But the chain store is legally allowed to do so.

Fox19 did not name the chain store because technically they didn't break any rules. We did contact them, asking solely for their store policy. A spokesperson emailed this, "We follow whatever local or state laws there are regarding this or any product."

According to the Ohio State Attorney General's office, there is no state law dealing with the sale or use of so called "air guns." It's up to city and town leaders. Columbus and Cleveland both have one ordinance each that forbids the use of "air guns" in public. Cincinnati municipal code classifies Airsoft guns as a "dangerous weapons." It prohibits using them in public, and selling them within 1,000 feet of a school, but nothing specifically addresses the age of a buyer. Fox19 called at least a dozen city leaders, and discovered the same thing.

Chief Craig said that is a deadly loophole.

"Those types of weapons that look like real guns pose a threat; A threat to public safety," said Chief Craig. "We know that individuals have gone out and committed street robberies using them. We know instances where those have been used in confrontations with police."

Dull said more young people are buying the airsoft guns, but the problem isn't access.

"The thing that is really the problem is education," said Dull.

"Parents need to take the responsibility of informing their children on the proper use of these air soft guns," said Dull. "Don't take them to school. Treat them like they're loaded."

Monday, February 13, 2012

Student brings toy gun to school in effort to scare bully, police say

ROCK HILL, SC (WBTV) - A student at Belleview Elementary School brought a BB airsoft gun to school last week because he was being bullied, according to a police report.

Police repsonded to the school when the school's principal reported an unlawful weapon on school grounds.

The student brought an airsoft gun to school because he was being bullied by another student and was going to show him the airsoft gun in order to put a stop to it, according to the report from the Rock Hill Police Department.

Police said the student never showed him the airsoft gun.
The air soft gun was seized and placed into evidence.

DIY Rapid-Fire Pellet Gun Shoots Your Eye Out For Just $15

YouTuber Nighthawkinlight shows you how to turn $15 worth of air hose parts, and a plastic soda bottle, into a remarkably devastating airsoft-like pellet gun that will riddle a foam target into dust.

Except, they fail to mention that the whole thing is powered by a tank of gas or air compressor that will most certainly push the budget for this creation well past the $15 mark. So instead, I guess I spent my morning building an elaborate rattle.

Police: Bullied boy brought BB gun to Rock Hill school


A Rock Hill elementary student claims he brought a BB airsoft gun to school Thursday to stop another student who had been bullying him.

The 11-year-old boy is a student at Belleview Elementary School on Belleview Road, according to a Rock Hill police report. Another student reported to school officials the boy had brought an Airsoft gun to school.

School officials found the airsoft gun and learned that the boy had been bullied by another student, the report states. Several students said they had heard the student talk about the bullying going on and that the student brought the airsoft gun to stop the bullying. However, he never showed the airsoft gun to the alleged bully or threatened any students with it.

Police seized the airsoft gun, the report states.

The school will take disciplinary action against the student, according to the report.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Talented airsoft coder: Teen finds bugs in Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft code

When he's not at school, 15-year-old Cim Stordal spends his time playing the Team Fortress video game, shooting his Airsoft pellet gun, and working in a fish shop in Bergen, Norway. But his real passion is finding bugs in software used by millions of people on the Internet.

Stordal has made the Google Security Hall of Fame, been credited with disclosing a cross-site scripting bug to Apple, been thanked by Microsoft for disclosing a vulnerability to the company, and received an elite White Hat Visa card from Facebook with $500 credit on it.

"I got a card for a self-persistent XSS [cross-site scripting flaw] at Facebook, and a nonpersistent XSS at Google, Microsoft, and Apple," he said in a recent Skype interview with CNET. (As a "self-persistent" issue, the bug Stordal disclosed was not exploitable by a third-party because it required a user to take an action to be at risk, according to Facebook.)

"I just look around at the site and find out where I can input HTML and stuff and it's not filtered in the source code. Often they filter some characters but forget some or they totally forget that input," he said. "What an attacker wants is often the cookie, which can be used to log-in as the user."

Stordal says of the sites he poked around in, Apple was the easiest to find a flaw in. "I found the Facebook [hole] after four days and the Google one after three, but Apple took me only five minutes" to find two XSS flaws, he said. (Apple representatives did not respond to a request seeking comment.)

The companies appreciate his efforts, particularly because he tells them before going public with any of the details. "Everyone was happy about it and fixed the flaws kind of fast."
Stordal started looking for vulnerabilities in software when he was 14 years old. "I have always loved being on the PC and I already was programming some C++," he said. "So I wanted to do something new and I searched around and learned Basic."

His friends are impressed with his skills and lean on him to help keep their Web sites secure. His parents aren't really sure what to make of his research.

"They think it's kind of cool, I guess, as they don't understand what I do," he said. "But they also don't want me to stay on the computer all day."

His next move is looking for vulnerabilities on mobile devices. He's trying to set up a fuzzer (automated software testing tool) on his iPhone 3GS.