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When reckless use of paintball guns becomes an offense

On Behalf of | Nov 22, 2023 | Criminal Law

Paintball is a sport that pits players against each other in a friendly shooting game, usually with different objectives involved. Players use paintball guns that – while harmless – can hit targets forcefully and leave huge paint marks.

But while paintball guns aren’t fatal, they can propel paintballs at high enough speeds that can seriously hurt or bruise a person who isn’t wearing protective equipment.

It’s a crime in Pennsylvania to not only shoot a paintball gun at a non-competitor but also to carry the air weapon unsecured while driving around in public, where people can mistake it for an actual deadly weapon.

Unlawful carrying and discharge

According to state law, it’s unlawful for anyone to carry a paintball gun in a vehicle on a highway unless it’s secured to meet the following criteria:

  • Unloaded: The paintball gun is empty of gelatin paintballs.
  • Disconnected: The air weapon is unattached from its propellant source or the propellant is disabled.
  • Separated: The owner separately stored the gun and its paintballs.
  • Secured: The owner has their gun in a secure wrapper, with a barrel-blocking device installed. Alternatively, the owner stores their gun in a part of the vehicle that’s not readily accessible from the passenger compartment.

This law doesn’t apply when the paintball gun owner is transporting their weapon on a commercial paintball field or course.

Pennsylvania rules also prohibit persons from discharging or firing their paintball guns at other people who aren’t part of a paintball game or other paintball-related activity.

The penalties

A violation of any of these rules is a summary offense. These offenses, while not serious crimes, still carry a maximum penalty of 90 days of imprisonment and $300 in fines.

Although paintball is a relatively safe shooting sport, participants must show respect and observe safety rules regarding their guns. Any mischief involving intimidating non-players or shooting at unprotected people is a punishable offense.

Don’t underestimate the penalties if you or your child face a similar charge. Consider seeking legal counsel to understand your predicament and your rights.



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