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Thread: Is it legal to shoot airsoft guns in a public park in VA?

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    Is it legal to shoot airsoft guns in a public park in VA?

    I was out at the park with the ol' ball and chain, my friend, his wife, and their 6 month old child. We were having a nice walk on the trail in the woods when we came across a group of kids and their parents shooting each other with airsoft guns. We asked at them to stop, since there was a small child, and we didn't want to get hit, and the father told us that it was a public park, and was perfectly legal. He also had is hand on a holstered "pistol" the whole time. Not sure if it was an airsoft pistol or a real one, but we felt threatened nonetheless.

    I was just wondering if there was some sort of regulation against this. I could have sworn there was something about getting hit by a projectile ("missile"?), but you had to be in a car.

    Oh, and open carry related since they were open carrying guns! (albeit, fake ones)

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    Regular Member ODA 226's Avatar
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    Putting you in fear by placing his hand on what appeared to be a handgun is Brandishing.
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    Firing a BB Gun is illegal in many local jurisdictions. The laws may not have caught up with airsoft yet, but i'm sure a judge would have an opinion. What a jerk to act like that.
    The difference in between being a citizen and a subject is the right to keep and bear arms.

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    Campaign Veteran skidmark's Avatar
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    First check www.municode.com to see if there is a local law covering airsoft guns in public parks. That way you will know if there is a next time.

    If you ever encounter a situation like that again, please remember that discretion is the better part of valor, especially when you are concerned for the safety of your wife and child as well as yourself.

    There's no need to go into the finer points of brandishing vs simple assault.
    but we felt threatened nonetheless
    is probably the time to call 9-1-1 from a place of safety. Having a digital voice recording of "the father [telling] us that it was a public park, and was perfectly legal" as well as your request to stop would help the police understand the situation better than a simple you said/he said situation. They are not expensive and most can record more than 24 hours straight without wearing out the batteries. Erase at the end of the day if there was nothing worth saving.

    stay safe.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Average Dad View Post
    Firing a BB Gun is illegal in many local jurisdictions. The laws may not have caught up with airsoft yet, but i'm sure a judge would have an opinion. What a jerk to act like that.
    by definition an airsoft gun is a BB gun. Example is Fairfax County's ordinance:

    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.

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    Regular Member ocholsteroc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mercutio545 View Post
    I was out at the park with the ol' ball and chain, my friend, his wife, and their 6 month old child. We were having a nice walk on the trail in the woods when we came across a group of kids and their parents shooting each other with airsoft guns. We asked at them to stop, since there was a small child, and we didn't want to get hit, and the father told us that it was a public park, and was perfectly legal. He also had is hand on a holstered "pistol" the whole time. Not sure if it was an airsoft pistol or a real one, but we felt threatened nonetheless.

    I was just wondering if there was some sort of regulation against this. I could have sworn there was something about getting hit by a projectile ("missile"?), but you had to be in a car.

    Oh, and open carry related since they were open carrying guns! (albeit, fake ones)


    You said AIRSOFT, not BB. Why not shoot it in your home? the airsoft gun I bought came with a target shooting board, and you just place it near the wall. Sit in the floor with glasses and shoot. Its only like 250-350 fps.
    How come a DUI you can get your driver licence back, which it is a privilege. But if commiting a felon, even something non violent like stealing, you are denied your constitutional rights for the rest of your life?
    If you don't support the Second Amendment to the Constitution, what other parts of the Constitution do you reject?
    More restrictions on guns? how about restrictions on chainsaws and knives?

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    Quote Originally Posted by ocholsteroc View Post
    You said AIRSOFT, not BB. Why not shoot it in your home? the airsoft gun I bought came with a target shooting board, and you just place it near the wall. Sit in the floor with glasses and shoot. Its only like 250-350 fps.
    I'm guessing they wanted to shoot at each other in the woods. They were wearing safety glasses, but we definitely weren't. And that is a good point about the brandishing, I just didn't know if it was real or fake. I'm just glad there was no need to find out.

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    Accomplished Advocate peter nap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mercutio545 View Post
    I'm guessing they wanted to shoot at each other in the woods. They were wearing safety glasses, but we definitely weren't. And that is a good point about the brandishing, I just didn't know if it was real or fake. I'm just glad there was no need to find out.
    Yeah, it probably is illegal from several directions..(Brandishing, shooting a BB gun in a restricted area, Etc).

    I hate threads like this though because I wouldn't have called the police because of l (My phone doesn't dial 911) rule but they would have stopped. People like that test what little patience I have.

    One of the only two criminal cases I can remember my father taking involved just such an incident on the Skyline Drive. The fellow with a BB gun was killed and the shooter was exonerated.

    There are some really stupid people in this world.
    Last edited by peter nap; 02-26-2011 at 07:08 PM.

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    Founder's Club Member - Moderator ed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mercutio545 View Post
    He also had is hand on a holstered "pistol" the whole time.
    Not enough information for me to call this brandishing "yet". I have seen many people (I'm not one of them), cops included "rest" their hand on the top of it but not in a threatening manner. But once again a digital record of the conversation would be key.
    Carry On.

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    Forgot to mention, it was at Bennet's Creek park in Suffolk. Here is the Municode cite for what I think they could be charged with (thanks for the link Skidmark!):


    Sec. 54-122. Discharge.
    (a) Definitions. The following words, terms and phrases, when used in this article, shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this section, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning:
    Densely populated area means an area extending 200 yards from the exterior boundaries of any five or more parcels or tracts, each one of which is adjacent to at least one other, each parcel or tract being one acre or less in area, and which parcels or tracts each contain a structure designed for human use.
    (b) Prohibited. It shall be unlawful and constitute a class 3 misdemeanor, punishable as provided in subsection 1-14(1), for any person to:
    (1) Discharge a firearm or air gun of .177 caliber or larger:
    a. Within any densely populated area;
    b. Within 200 yards from any structure owned by another and used for human occupancy or for business purposes, or for the storage of personal property, including, but not limited to, structures used for the housing of livestock or for other agricultural accessory storage uses, without permission of the owner;
    c. Within 100 yards from any public street, secondary road or highway within the city, except on a permitted firing range; or
    d. At or upon the property of another without permission.
    (2) Shoot a longbow, compound bow, crossbow or air gun at or upon the property of another without permission.

    (3) Use of a rifle to hunt bear or deer except from a stand located at least 15 feet in elevation above the ground; provided, however, that the requirement that the use of a rifle be from a stand located at least 15 feet in elevation above the ground shall be expressly inapplicable to all legally handicapped persons.
    (c) Exceptions. The provisions of this section shall not be applicable to:
    (1) Law enforcement officers engaged in the lawful performance of their duties as such, nor shall they be applicable in any situation in which the discharge of a weapon is necessary for the preservation or protection of human life or property.
    (2) The use of muzzle-loading rifles during the prescribed open seasons for the hunting of game species is permitted in the city; provided, however, that the use of such muzzle-loading rifle shall be only from a stand located at least ten feet in elevation above the ground; provided, however, that the requirement that the use of such muzzle-loading rifle be from a stand located at least ten feet in elevation above the ground shall be expressly inapplicable to all legally handicapped persons.
    (3) The killing of deer pursuant to Code of Virginia, § 29.1-529, on parcels of five acres or more in the agricultural zoning district.
    (Ord. No. 64-93, § 18-15, 9-1-1993; Ord. No. 86-01, 7-18-2001; Ord. No. 09-O-046, 9-2-2009; Ord. No. 10-O-33, 4-21-2010)
    State law references: Authority to adopt, Code of Virginia, § 15.2-1113.

    Airsoft guns shoot plastic BB's through means of compressed gas or springs which I believe involves air being compressed to fire (which I'm guessing is what the "air" in airsoft comes from), so would that fall under this statute? They were well within 200 yards of the ranger station, and definitely within 100 yards of a road. And an airsoft BB is usually 6mm, so about .23 inches.

    I'm going out there to play disc golf tomorrow, so I might run this by the ranger station. Do you all think it holds any weight?

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    Never hurts to try....There are many other areas to play war than a public park!.. You may also look into the local DNR laws to see if this qualifies as littering. Those airsoft bb's to my knowledge are not biodegradable.....I would have been a bit more agressive but that's me...LOL

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    Its prolly just me, but I might be inclined to let folks have their fun.

    I might say something like, "Whoa! Non-combatant refugees escaping the fighting. Can y'all hold off shooting each other til we get past? [smile]"

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    Super Moderator Grapeshot's Avatar
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    Can't look casually at people "playing" with guns except in a very controlled, non-public environment which this is not.

    Most assuredly would not have taken an aggressive stance - doing so would make one part any problem that might develop.

    Yes, I would follow through after the fact.
    Old and treacherous will beat young and skilled every time.

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    Regular Member ODA 226's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mercutio545 View Post
    Forgot to mention, it was at Bennet's Creek park in Suffolk. Here is the Municode cite for what I think they could be charged with (thanks for the link Skidmark!):




    Airsoft guns shoot plastic BB's through means of compressed gas or springs which I believe involves air being compressed to fire (which I'm guessing is what the "air" in airsoft comes from), so would that fall under this statute? They were well within 200 yards of the ranger station, and definitely within 100 yards of a road. And an airsoft BB is usually 6mm, so about .23 inches.

    I'm going out there to play disc golf tomorrow, so I might run this by the ranger station. Do you all think it holds any weight?
    Heck! I was OCing there that morning around 11AM with my dog and my youngest daughter!
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    Regular Member ODA 226's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ed View Post
    Not enough information for me to call this brandishing "yet". I have seen many people (I'm not one of them), cops included "rest" their hand on the top of it but not in a threatening manner. But once again a digital record of the conversation would be key.
    Ed,
    It's definately enough for me!
    Craig

    § 18.2-282. Pointing, holding, or brandishing firearm, air or gas operated weapon or object similar in appearance; penalty.
    A. It shall be unlawful for any person to point, hold or brandish any firearm or any air or gas operated weapon or any object similar in appearance, whether capable of being fired or not, in such manner as to reasonably induce fear in the mind of another or hold a firearm or any air or gas operated weapon in a public place in such a manner as to reasonably induce fear in the mind of another of being shot or injured. However, this section shall not apply to any person engaged in excusable or justifiable self-defense. Persons violating the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor or, if the violation occurs upon any public, private or religious elementary, middle or high school, including buildings and grounds or upon public property within 1,000 feet of such school property, he shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony.
    B. Any police officer in the performance of his duty, in making an arrest under the provisions of this section, shall not be civilly liable in damages for injuries or death resulting to the person being arrested if he had reason to believe that the person being arrested was pointing, holding, or brandishing such firearm or air or gas operated weapon, or object that was similar in appearance, with intent to induce fear in the mind of another.
    C. 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. The word "ammunition," as used herein, shall mean a cartridge, pellet, ball, missile or projectile adapted for use in a firearm.
    (Code 1950, § 18.1-69.2; 1968, c. 513; 1975, cc. 14, 15; 1990, cc. 588, 599; 1992, c. 735; 2003, c. 976; 2005
    Bitka Sve Rešava!
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    Well, we went out to play disc golf today, and lo and behold, the same people came out with their airsoft guns right as we were driving off. It was very nice out, and there were lots of people playing on the disc golf course, right where they were headed to play with their guns.

    Called the police, and they said they would send an officer out immediately. Hopefully the officer realized that it's a violation and that they aren't just toys.

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    Super Moderator Grapeshot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mercutio545 View Post
    Well, we went out to play disc golf today, and lo and behold, the same people came out with their airsoft guns right as we were driving off. It was very nice out, and there were lots of people playing on the disc golf course, right where they were headed to play with their guns.

    Called the police, and they said they would send an officer out immediately. Hopefully the officer realized that it's a violation and that they aren't just toys.
    Shame that you didn't have time to witness the encounter.
    Old and treacherous will beat young and skilled every time.

    Yata hey

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grapeshot View Post
    Shame that you didn't have time to witness the encounter.
    Indeed it is. My friend drove and he was running late for something, so that was all I could do, unless I wanted to walk home!

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    Founder's Club Member - Moderator ed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mercutio545 View Post
    Called the police, and they said they would send an officer out immediately. Hopefully the officer realized that it's a violation and that they aren't just toys.
    You could FOIA the report
    Carry On.

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    Educational

    This has been, and continues to be, highly educational.

    I look forward to follow up info.

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    Cool Based on Some of the Arguments Presented Herein

    Me and several friends of my youth should still be in jail.

    We used to go into Seashore State Park and play One-Pump all the time. We would also throw green pine cones at each other. I probably still have scars.
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    The jurisdiction I work for has a local ordinance banning airsoft guns (any gun that expells using air, etc) from being shot. However, if I was dispatched to a call for what was mentioned (preteens/teens having an "airsoft war"), I would highly doubt I would end up charging or writing a report for the incident. Most likely I would gather them up, get their info for a less formal contact card, and explain to them that it's illegal and dangerous. Maybe a quick call to the parents as well. I don't mind them doing such an act, but I don't believe a public park would be a good place to conduct that behavior.

    And let's just say that someone somewhere would argue airsoft gun shooting is legal....well an officer could always detain for littering (those bright neon plastic pellets the guns expel). Oh I just saw someone else mentioned the littering, beat me to it.
    Last edited by NovaCop10; 02-28-2011 at 03:34 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NovaCop10 View Post
    The jurisdiction I work for has a local ordinance banning airsoft guns (any gun that expells using air, etc) from being shot. However, if I was dispatched to a call for what was mentioned (preteens/teens having an "airsoft war"), I would highly doubt I would end up charging or writing a report for the incident. Most likely I would gather them up, get their info for a less formal contact card, and explain to them that it's illegal and dangerous. Maybe a quick call to the parents as well. I don't mind them doing such an act, but I don't believe a public park would be a good place to conduct that behavior.

    And let's just say that someone somewhere would argue airsoft gun shooting is legal....well an officer could always detain for littering (those bright neon plastic pellets the guns expel). Oh I just saw someone else mentioned the littering, beat me to it.
    I agree with you, I don't think a 10-13 year old should be charged with a crime for playing around, because they probably have no idea that it's against the law. You can't throw rocks at people either, but when I was a youngster, rock wars were the thing!

    But you have to remember, the parents were there playing with them. If my mother found out that I was throwing rocks at people, my behind would have been as red as a tomato. She sure as heck wouldn't be throwing them with me!

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    I don't think they should have been charged with a crime, but after the response the OP got from the father, it might have been fun to call it in stating that you had just seen 4 people running through the park with weapons drawn. Then just sit back and watch.




    Then again maybe not. Wouldn't want to put anyone's life at risk either!
    Last edited by GrayGhost; 03-02-2011 at 09:09 AM.

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    they say you can't cure stupid...

    Quote Originally Posted by GrayGhost View Post
    I don't think they should have been charged with a crime, but after the response the OP got from the father, it might have been fun to call it in stating that you had just seen 4 people running through the park with weapons drawn. Then just sit back and watch.




    Then again maybe not. Wouldn't want to put anyone's life at risk either!
    maybe you can!
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