Baltimore to Outlaw Paintball, BB, and Pellet Guns

This seems like a useless bill, but lets examine why City Councilwoman Helen Holton thinks this ban is necessary:

Holton said she is concerned with two recent shootings in which police officers shot residents who were pointing toy guns at the officers.

“The sophistication of toy guns have reached such epidemic proportions that you can’t differentiate between what is a toy and what can do harm,” said Holton, D-8th District. “Officers should not have to make a split-second decision: Is it real or is it fake?”

My question is, how is this ban going to make that sort of situation easier to deal with. Certainly the ban isn't actually going to stop these types of situations from occuring. If anything, this ban will give the officers greater incentive to shoot and ask questions later. They could argue that no matter what weapon the suspect was holding, it looked dangerous, and under the new ban, illegal as well.

It also give Baltimore Police another distraction to look out for and another tool with which they can punish otherwise law abiding citizens. Paintball and target shooting are not unpopular in the area, and if someone in the city is set on getting ahold of a realistic weapon, all they need do after the ban is drive a few miles to the surrounding counties.

Of course, the strongest argument against this bill is that it will only impede law abiding citizens from using these weapons in the city. People who are taken to robbing stores with BB guns will continue to do so. In case it isn't obvious, criminals don't care about the law. If they are willing to commit robbery, they are willing to use an illegal pellet gun to do it.

Furthermore, getting a legal permit for a gun in the city is no easy task. I am sure that some residents of the city have purchased these "realistic looking toys" in the in the interest of personal protection. Should this bill pass, I expect that more innocent folks will end up being arrested than dangerous criminals.

I would much rather have the City Council focus on how they can empower police officers to catch more robbers. Instead, the City Council appears to be legislating to create a city where all crimes are committed with REAL HANDGUNS.

At least Baltimore's Finest will finally be able to shoot a suspect who is holding a weapon without having to debate whether it is legal/deadly or not.

UPDATE: An editorial in the Examiner agrees with me. They point out a few things:
Giving police the power to arrest any citizen they see on the street with paint, pellet or BB gun also will result in nothing but increased street strife and more weapons concealment...

Laws attempting to prevent firearms crime have almost a century of failure to their credit now. If gun control doesn’t work on real guns, what makes anyone think it will work on toys?
I would argue that most people on the city council have not reached the same conclusion about gun control, correct or not.

The most important point is this:
The City Council would better serve public safety by tackling structural reforms — like finding a way to better align police arrests with charges.

With about 20 percent of the 100,000 arrested each year released from Central Booking without charges and another 24 percent who see their charges dropped in court, police are wasting time rounding up the wrong people. Asking them to enforce a toy gun ban will only drain more time from removing violent felons from Baltimore’s streets.


Stephanie Dray said...


What are the chances of this passing?

Andrew Kujan said...

Its still in committee, so we will see. Its not like it would be a huge deal if it passes, but it just seems like a waste of time to me.

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