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Thread: Pellet gun discharge

  1. #1
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    Good morning everyone! I have an offtopic question for this forum, but i just cannot find an answer anywhere by myself. I was wondering what are the laws and regualtions on discharge of pellet firingairguns in VA in general and in Fairfax County in particular. I am looking into getting a break-barrel pellet firing air rifle to practice for really cheap and i was wondering is i could legally shoot it in my basement or backyard as long as i provide an adequate backstop. I was thinking of using one of these steel pellet catchers and pad a wall behind it with phone books or plywood or something like that. I heard many times that it is illegal, but when i researched the laws, i couldn't find anything neither in the state law nor in county regulations. Please let me know if you have any info regarding this issue and cite a source if possible. Thanks a lot!

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    Generally speaking, an air rifle does not meet the legal definition of a firearm, described as: "For purposes of this section, the word "firearm" means any weapon that will or is designed to or may readily be converted to expel single or multiple projectiles by the action of an explosion of a combustible material....." [18.2-282]

    However, you will see multiple codes where an air rifle is included under the definition of a "weapon" when used in a criminal manner (brandishing, threatening, robbery, etc.). The article cited above is an example of both.

    I can't speak for local ordance in Fairfax.

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    Armed wrote:
    Generally speaking, an air rifle does not meet the legal definition of a firearm, described as: "For purposes of this section, the word "firearm" means any weapon that will or is designed to or may readily be converted to expel single or multiple projectiles by the action of an explosion of a combustible material....." [18.2-282]

    However, you will see multiple codes where an air rifle is included under the definition of a "weapon" when used in a criminal manner (brandishing, threatening, robbery, etc.). The article cited above is an example of both.

    I can't speak for local ordance in Fairfax.
    Would the definition of "firearem" itself be subject to preemption?

    TFred

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    I actually have some experience with this one. I was in Centreville shooting a pellet gun into some woods near a buddy's house. To make a long story short, someone got nervous and called the police. The Fairfax County police showed up and informed me that as far as they were concerned, a pellet gun classifies as a firearm (even though I debated the improper usage of the term "firearm" at length with the officer). The end result was the officer telling us to put it away and not shoot it anymore. He also suggested that we were getting off easy because the guy who called the police apparently could have pressed charges for....something. Then he lectured me on how "there is no safe place in Fairfax county to shoot the thing"....which I also debated.

    Upon doing my own research the cop is right. Pellet guns aka air rifles are illegal to discharge in Fairfax county unless you meet t he requirements.

    Section 6-1-1 defines a pellet gun as a "gun" or "pneumatic gun"

    Code:
    Section 6-1-1. Gun 			means a firearm or pneumatic gun or other similar device designed and intended to expel a projectile through a barrel of any length by means of explosive, expansion or release of compressed gas or compressed air or action of a spring mechanism. 			    
    
    Pneumatic gun 			means any implement, designed as a gun, that will expel a BB or a pellet by action of pneumatic pressure; it includes a paintball gun that expels by action of pneumatic pressure plastic balls filled with paint for the purpose of marking the point of impact.
    Section 6-1-2.1 defines the usage of "pnumatic guns"
    Code:
    Section 6-1-2.1. Discharge of pneumatic guns in certain places prohibited; exceptions.  Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 6-1-2, a person may discharge a pneumatic gun on a parcel of land containing at least one acre of land in an area designated for the discharge of firearms or other guns in accordance with Appendix J to the Fairfax County Code. Provided, however, no person shall discharge any such pneumatic gun within 100 yards of a public school ground or a public park, and no person shall traverse a public school ground, or a public park while in possession of a pneumatic gun. This Section shall not prohibit any act described in Subsections (g)(3), (g)(4), (g)(5), (g)(6), (g)(7), (g)(8), or (g)(9) of Section 6-1-2, and this Section shall not prohibit: (i) the lawful possession of a gun of the type described herein when such gun is carried for purposes of personal safety; (ii) the lawful possession of a gun of the type described herein on a public highway within 100 yards of any public school ground or public park, or (iii) recreational shooting on gun ranges at any public school grounds operated by or with the approval of that school or recreational shooting on gun ranges at any public park operated by or with the approval of the owner of the park. Whenever any minor below the age of 16 uses any pneumatic gun, the minor must be supervised by a parent, guardian, or other adult supervisor approved by the minor's parent or guardian. Any minor using any pneumatic gun shall be responsible for obeying all laws, regulations and restrictions governing such use at all times. Violation of this Section shall constitute a Class 3 misdemeanor. (21-94-6; 39-96-6, § 1; 24-04-6.)
    Hope this helps.

    *Edited for Spelling.

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    Chaingun81 wrote: (Snip)
    ...could legally shoot it in my basement...
    I would think that if you are in your basement you should be fine. As long as you aren't shooting out of your basement, who will know that you are down there and what you are doing? I am not a lawyer and if you are really concerned, you could consult one...

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    Bandit wrote:
    Section 6-1-1 defines a pellet gun as a "gun" or "pneumatic gun"

    Code:
    Section 6-1-1. Gun means a firearm or pneumatic gun or other similar device designed and intended to expel a projectile through a barrel of any length by means of explosive, expansion or release of compressed gas or compressed air or action of a spring mechanism. 
    
    Pneumatic gun means any implement, designed as a gun, that will expel a BB or a pellet by action of pneumatic pressure; it includes a paintball gun that expels by action of pneumatic pressure plastic balls filled with paint for the purpose of marking the point of impact.

    Including paintball??:what:

    Man, that really bites!


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    xd.40 wrote:
    Chaingun81 wrote: (Snip)
    ...could legally shoot it in my basement...
    I would think that if you are in your basement you should be fine. As long as you aren't shooting out of your basement, who will know that you are down there and what you are doing? I am not a lawyer and if you are really concerned, you could consult one...
    I'm sure you would be fine in your basement...but that doesn't make it legal.

  8. #8
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    Section 6-1-1 defines a pellet gun as a "gun" or "pneumatic gun"

    Code:
    Section 6-1-1. Gun means a firearm or pneumatic gun or other similar device designed and intended to expel a projectile through a barrel of any length by means of explosive, expansion or release of compressed gas or compressed air or action of a spring mechanism. 
    
    Pneumatic gun means any implement, designed as a gun, that will expel a BB or a pellet by action of pneumatic pressure; it includes a paintball gun that expels by action of pneumatic pressure plastic balls filled with paint for the purpose of marking the point of impact.

    Seriously, how does this not violate preemption? A local ordinance which redefines what a "gun" or a "firearm" is would seem to be the very reason preemption was put in place to begin with!

    TFred

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    TFred wrote:
    Section 6-1-1 defines a pellet gun as a "gun" or "pneumatic gun"
    Seriously, how does this not violate preemption? A local ordinance which redefines what a "gun" or a "firearm" is would seem to be the very reason preemption was put in place to begin with!

    TFred
    TFred - I think you have a point. However, I am afraid I do not completely understand the details of preemption. Can someone point me to the actual code? I'd like to read it, but can't seem to locate the actual code on the LIS web.

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    TFred wrote:
    Section 6-1-1 defines a pellet gun as a "gun" or "pneumatic gun"

    Code:
    Section 6-1-1. Gun means a firearm or pneumatic gun or other similar device designed and intended to expel a projectile through a barrel of any length by means of explosive, expansion or release of compressed gas or compressed air or action of a spring mechanism. 
    
    Pneumatic gun means any implement, designed as a gun, that will expel a BB or a pellet by action of pneumatic pressure; it includes a paintball gun that expels by action of pneumatic pressure plastic balls filled with paint for the purpose of marking the point of impact.

    Seriously, how does this not violate preemption? A local ordinance which redefines what a "gun" or a "firearm" is would seem to be the very reason preemption was put in place to begin with!

    TFred
    Heres the answer to your question TFred:

    Virginia's code states that localities can regulate pneumatic guns.

    § 15.2-915.4. Counties, cities and towns authorized to regulate use of pneumatic guns.
    Code:
    A. A locality may prohibit, by ordinance, the shooting of pneumatic guns in any areas of the locality that are in the opinion of the governing body so heavily populated as to make such conduct dangerous to the inhabitants thereof, and may require supervision by a parent, guardian, or other adult supervisor approved by a parent or guardian of any minor below the age of 16 in all uses of pneumatic guns on private or public property. The ordinance may specify that minors above the age of 16 may, with the written consent of a parent or guardian, use a pneumatic gun at any place designated for such use by the local governing body or on private property with the consent of the owner. The ordinance may specify that any minor, whether permitted by a parent or guardian to use a pneumatic gun or not, shall be responsible for obeying all laws, regulations and restrictions governing such use. Any penalty for a pneumatic gun offense set forth in such an ordinance shall not exceed a Class 3 misdemeanor. 
      B. No such ordinance authorized by subsection A shall prohibit the use of pneumatic guns at facilities approved for shooting ranges or on other property where firearms may be discharged. 
      C. Training of minors in the use of pneumatic guns shall be done only under direct supervision of a parent, guardian, Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps instructor, or a certified instructor. Training of minors above the age of 16 may also be done without direct supervision if approved by the minor's instructor, with the permission of and under the responsibility of a parent or guardian, and in compliance with all requirements of this section. Ranges and instructors may be certified by the National Rifle Association, a state or federal agency that has developed a certification program, any service of the Department of Defense, or any person authorized by these authorities to certify ranges and instructors. 
      D. Commercial or private areas designated for use of pneumatic paintball guns may be established and operated for recreational use. Equipment designed to protect the face and ears shall be provided to participants at such recreational areas, and signs must be posted to warn against entry into the paintball area by persons who are unprotected or unaware that paintball guns are in use. 
      E. As used in this section, "pneumatic gun" means any implement, designed as a gun, that will expel a BB or a pellet by action of pneumatic pressure. "Pneumatic gun" includes a paintball gun that expels by action of pneumatic pressure plastic balls filled with paint for the purpose of marking the point of impact.

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    Hmmm... maybe this goes back to not meeting the definition of a firearm?

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    Yikes! I've had a pellet gun since I was 12. Luckily no one has said anything since I always shoot it into the woods behind my house and at a downward angle.

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    Thanks for so much info guys! It seems though, that there is no clear prohibition on private property is there? Or did i miss something?

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    Heres the answer to your question TFred:

    Virginia's code states that localities can regulate pneumatic guns.
    Ha, so they preempted the preemption for air guns. How typical.

    Thanks for the answer.

    TFred


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    Chaingun81 wrote:
    Thanks for so much info guys! It seems though, that there is no clear prohibition on private property is there? Or did i miss something
    The law governs all of Fairfax county. Private property located in Fairfax county is no exception. Unless you meet the requirements, It's illegal.

    Don't get me wrong, I think its BS. With enough land or indoor setup and a good safe backstop I personally see no problem with "pneumatic guns" being fired within county limits. But opinions are not what we're debating here...



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    Damn! That is a bummer! I am originally from Russia and for how incredibly restricted guns are there and how crazy the penalties might be and how abusive police is, airguns are really not a problem. I remember me and couple of my friends shooting soda cans with a pellet gun in Moscow city (!) on public property (!!) in the middle of the day (!!!) andin the back yard of our school (!!!!) using school wall as a backstop (!!!!!!). We did that many times, for 2-3 hours each time (plenty of time for cops to show up) and the only complain we had was our geography teacher asking us to shoot away from the windows. I never thought that privately ownedback yard in suburbs in gun-friendlycountry and very gun-friendly statewould be so much of a problem. So, where can i legaly shoot them then? Go to a regular gun range only i guess? Any other ideas?

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    TFred wrote:
    Heres the answer to your question TFred:

    Virginia's code states that localities can regulate pneumatic guns.
    Ha, so they preempted the preemption for air guns. How typical.

    Thanks for the answer.

    TFred
    I don't thnk they ban ownership, just discharge, same as any other gun.

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    Bandit wrote:
    xd.40 wrote:
    Chaingun81 wrote: (Snip)
    ...could legally shoot it in my basement...
    I would think that if you are in your basement you should be fine. As long as you aren't shooting out of your basement, who will know that you are down there and what you are doing? I am not a lawyer and if you are really concerned, you could consult one...
    I'm sure you would be fine in your basement...but that doesn't make it legal.
    You mean they can regulate what you can do in your own basement?

    what's this country coming to?



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    doug23838 wrote:
    Bandit wrote:
    xd.40 wrote:
    Chaingun81 wrote: (Snip)
    ...could legally shoot it in my basement...
    I would think that if you are in your basement you should be fine. As long as you aren't shooting out of your basement, who will know that you are down there and what you are doing? I am not a lawyer and if you are really concerned, you could consult one...
    I'm sure you would be fine in your basement...but that doesn't make it legal.
    You mean they can regulate what you can do in your own basement?

    what's this country coming to?

    Obaminization would be a good term...

  20. #20
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    doug23838 wrote:
    You mean they can regulate what you can do in your own basement?

    what's this country coming to?

    What's going on in YOUR basement Doug?
    James Reynolds

    NRA Certified Firearms Instructor - Pistol, Shotgun, Home Firearms Safety, Refuse To Be A Victim
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    Instructor Bio - http://proactiveshooters.com/about-us/

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    so what if you're shooting just air? I use my pump airguns to knock out houseflies (once they've landed--I'm not that good a shot!) in my house--much cleaner than using a flyswatter, but if it's illegal...

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    My airgun strictly prohibits dry firing. It says that "it can cause piston to bottom out in the cylinder and permanently damage the rifle". Too bad i read it AFTERdry firing it twice...nothing seems damaged to me, but i am still worried.

    P.S. So what is the possible penalty for this violation?

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    Chaingun81 wrote:
    My airgun strictly prohibits dry firing. It says that "it can cause piston to bottom out in the cylinder and permanently damage the rifle". Too bad i read it AFTERdry firing it twice...nothing seems damaged to me, but i am still worried.
    Well, mine are cheap plastic pump Crosman airguns; if they break, oh well!

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    Mine isn't very expensive either. $99.99 in Sports Authority including 4x32 scope. But it looks and feels like a real thing - weights about 4 lbs., all blued heavy steel, nice wooden stock. In fact it's longer and heavierthan my 22LR plinker.

    Any advise onwhat a penalty might be again?

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    Chaingun81 wrote:
    My airgun strictly prohibits dry firing. It says that "it can cause piston to bottom out in the cylinder and permanently damage the rifle". Too bad i read it AFTERdry firing it twice...nothing seems damaged to me, but i am still worried.
    This is a concern with spring piston guns, but not pump-ups or CO2.



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