Is it illegal to paintball a total stranger?

…outside of a paintball range, I mean? If someone climbed a clock tower with a high powered paintball rifle and started pegging people down below at random, would it considered assault? Would a S.W.A.T. team eventually show up and take him down with lethal force, on the assumption that he may be “warming up” for more live ammunition?

What about blanks?

(And no, I’m not carefully planning how to go off my rocker, this is for a short story I’m thinking of for a creative writing exercise. Though I suppose if I ever do lose it and go out in a hail of paintballs, you could always say you saw it coming.)

Oh hells yes. Maybe not a SWAT Team (well, with DHS and all . . . you never know), but it is assault. I can remember several of those nighttime news programs ranting about the same video clip of several kids doing basically paintball drivebys. They got lit up with felony assault.

Yeah, I would highly advise against this.

And warning to those that would: those you shoot might think they’ve been shot, and return real live fire.

Definitely some form of assault. Might get the guy shot by law enforcement if he was stupid during the takedown.

Yes, it’s illegal. I suppose the particular charge(s) will vary by jurisdiction, but assault is a reasonable charge. From one news source:

And another:

Not sure about Texas, but in Florida:
Aggravated Assault for shooting at someone.
Battery or possibly aggravated battery (depending on the damage you cause) for shooting someone.
Also, it’s an additional felony if you shoot at an occupied vehicle.

SWAT could possibly be called out. Mainly because the initial calls from bystanders may not know it’s a paintball rifle, or may leave out that important detail when calling 911. But if the person calls 911 and says “There’s some idiot shooting at people with a paintball gun from the tower on Clark street”, they’ll send a car or two to go deal with it. It’s not that big of a deal.

I was thinking battery right off it you score a hit.

Not a smart idea. :eek:

To tag onto this… does it also count as assault if it’s a Super Soaker? Or does the damage have to be more substantial (ie, paintball to the noggin)?

The reason I’m curious is because in one incident I got soaked by a carful of idiots while reading a book at a bus stop years ago, and to this day I wish I could’ve reacted faster to grab the soaker and bust a few heads. :stuck_out_tongue:

Could the paintball shooter be charged with assault with a deadly weapon? In theory, if a paintball hits your chest at the right moment it can cause cardiac arrest. (People have died from being hit in the chest with baseballs due to that quirk of anatomy. I don’t think a paintball travels with any less force.) And, of course, if you aspirate even a relatively small amount of paint or plastic you can die of asphyxiation.

Biologically paintballs can be deadly if the target isn’t suited up properly, but I don’t know any of the relevant statute law or case law.

Not in the state of Minnesota, at least.

Question-could one also be charged with vandalism in addition to assault?

What about blanks?

As an officer told me, what makes an assault is for your words or actions to cause someone to reasonably fear for their well being. Pointing any sort of gun at someone can be ADW even if the gun has been modified so that it has no firing pin, is unloaded, is loaded with blanks or is even a realistic toy. Robbing a store with a toy gun is still armed robbery. Any sort of threat that has a reasonable chance to be harmful is assault.

An unruly patron at my local bar threatened one of the female bartenders with the words, “I’m going to kick your ass you f’ing bitch.” Three of us grabbed him and sat on him (literally) until the police arrived. He was arrested, charged and convicted of assault.

It’s not a question of how much damage is done. I was asked to testify in an assault and battery trial once (they never actually called me) and the defendant said, apparently thinking it was a good defense, “And I touched his shirt, just like this,” wherein he gently lifted the lapel of his jacket with a thumb and forefinger. At which moment the judge told him that even touching is assault if the person doesn’t want to be touched.


Back in the late 80s a bunch of teenage morons went around the San Fernando Valley paintballing people at street corners and buss stops. What made these guys World Class morons instead of your average run of the mill morons, was that they videotaped the attacks.
When they were arrested, the tape was found. All of them went to jail for a fair piece of time.
The husband of my son’s teacher was the prosecutor in the case. He was out for blood as he wanted the word to get around that this is a very bad idea.

These idiots were charged with second-degree assault.

I dunno about the cardiac arrest thing - a paintball carries about 11J (at ~280fps), while a baseball at 100mph is about 145J. There are millions of players firing jillions of paintballs every year, I don’t recall hearing of this happening.

That said they can certainly hurt. Modern “goggles” are full-face masks that cover you from well above the eyebrows to below the chin, and wrap around over the ears. There are full helmets available and some people wear a throat protector (it’s a neoprene band). I have heard of people losing an eye or being otherwise severely injured when hit unprotected (people goofing off, accidental discharge in the parking lot, etc), haven’t heard of anyone dying in a paintball game as a result of a hit while properly goggled up. There was a girl killed in Boston the other year when the police hit her in the head with a type of paintball marker that fires balls filled with some kind of irritant, rather than paint. AFAIK those markers are pretty much the same as recreational gear, just with different ammo.

Someone who intentionally shoots an unprotected target is risking doing some serious injury, these are not toys.

I wouldn’t recommend doing it in Japan, either. This dude will be charged with attempted murder in addition to vandalism for firing an air rifle at someone.

In the case of personal injury, after the assult charges take them to civil court for damages and pain and suffering. It doesn’t have to be classified as a weapon, just prove the damage was done.

I think an air rifle is somewhat different from a paintball, from your article:

Paintballs are not metallic projectiles. From what I gather, American-made paintball launchers are illegal in Japan, as they do not meet standards, but locally-made paintball guns are not considered restricted weapons in Japan. IANAJL, but I doubt you’d get charged with attempted murder for shooting someone with a legal paintball gun here.

Commotio cordis is what this is called technically. It seems to be caused most reliably with baseballs moving at 40 mph, depending on what part of the cardiac cycle the heart was in at the time. I don’t know what speed a paintball would have to be going to impart an equivalent force, or whether paintballs typically reach that speed.

IIRC the charges for assaults with painball guns are usually charged the same as an assault with an air gun. A paintball probably has more actual muzzle energy than most BB guns. The BB guns just penetrate better.