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“Police cited four men Friday for allegedly shooting ‘realistic-looking’ paintball guns at a vehicle,” reports. “The Madison [WI] Police Department initially received reports of two men shooting assault rifles at a vehicle in front of them while driving Friday afternoon. Officers later made contact with Rayshawn Jackson, Gerald Jones, Marquese Murphy and Keith Binder who told police they were in a consensual paintball gun war with the other vehicle. After searching the men’s vehicle, police found 3 paintball rifles and a paintball handgun. One of the rifles resembled an AR rifle painted in camouflage [not shown but similar]. All four men were cited with misdemeanor disorderly conduct while armed, and were released.” The quailing quartet [barely] avoided a Darwin Award but at least they get TTAG IGOTD hardware. How great is that?

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    • Most states have laws that using things that look like guns to break laws (in this case Disorderly Conduct) counts as being armed. The purpose of these laws are to punish the use of non-guns and unloaded guns to threaten (non-existent) deadly force in crimes such as robbery.

      It’s probably poor policy since if a criminal were inclined to use a toy the possible outcomes would be better for all involved parties, but since the penalties for toys are the same as for real weapons there’s a strong incentive to use the tool that can do more than threaten.

      • If by “outcomes would be better for all involved parties” you mean “Criminal draws fake gun and gets shot to death by armed citizen,” then yes, I completely agree.

      • While it’s true that equalizing the penalty for using either real guns or non-real guns would tend to provide an incentive to employ the more capable real gun, your argument that this is probably a poor policy fails on two major points.

        First, it assumes that by removing that equal treatment, there would be no change in the number of robberies committed, either with real or non-real guns. It assumes a static number of robberies will be committed and the only variable is the device used, in which robbers would favor real over non-real to capitalize on the greater capability. The conclusion being that each actual robbery among the fixed quantity of robberies would be a less dangerous event for the absence of the robber’s real gun. However, that neglects the effect of price on quantity demanded.

        The legal penalty is the price. You lower the penalty, you lower the price. Other things being equal, people consume more of a given good or service, or engage in more of a given activity, when the price decreases. Lowering the price, by way of the penalty, of armed robberies committed with toy, fake, unloaded or nonworking firearms, as opposed to what we’ll call “real” guns, would result in more such “armed” robberies occurring. Whatever the negative outcomes of armed robberies, other than the robber shooting someone with their real gun, would necessarily increase with an increase in the number of armed robberies overall. Which brings me to the second flaw in your argument.

        Second, your argument assumes that the only, or primary, source of negative outcomes in an armed robbery is the robber’s real gun. That’s patently false. Innumerable other negative outcomes can and frequently do take place during and as a result of armed robberies, regardless whether the robber used a real or perceived-as-real non-real gun. These include the police dept’s adrenaline-driven response, the robber’s frantic getaway, owner/customer/worker physical response (whether armed with a gun, other weapon, or their own body), anyone’s involuntary stress-induced heart attack, the cost of future business insurance premiums (property loss, civil liability, business interruption, etc.), higher labor expense through risk premiums, greater physical plant expense for cameras, counter shields, walk-up windows, lost business due to reduced operating hours for avoiding higher risk times, among others.

        All of these are real costs, some of them potentially life threatening, associated with armed robberies. Increasing the quantity of armed robberies through lowering the price paid by the robber would necessarily increase these other costs born by everyone else, most likely outweighing in aggregate any partial reduction from the robber using a non-real gun. You’d be hard pressed to find an example of an activity where shifting the expense burden from the actor to others doesn’t also result in an increase in overall expense.

        In a final irony, differing the penalties for robberies committed real guns and non-real guns could actually increase not only the number of robberies committed with non-real guns, but those with real guns, too! After all, how are you going to prove that the gun was real, or loaded, if real? That adds a new evidentiary burden for the prosecution, after all. A robber could use a real gun, gain that additional capability you cited, but also possess a fake, toy, etc., non-real gun, too. If they’re similar looking, who’s to say in court which he actually used in the robbery? Introducing a penalty imbalance, therefore, could actually increase not only the quantity of armed robberies, but increase the very sort of armed robberies, those with real guns, which you’re trying to reduce.

        Yikes! That’s a helluva harsh penalty for not heeding the Law of Unintended Consequences.

    • Given that “assault rifle” has no specific meaning, your question is unanswerable.

      “Assault rifle” takes on the definition of whatever the person using the term wants it to mean.

  1. Disorderly conduct seems reasonable, but in any city other than Milwaukee or Madlyagainstguns it would have been unarmed disorderly conduct, considering the fact that paint sprayers aren’t ‘arms’.

  2. A bit of overkill here? Maybe a stern talking to would be more in order? From the names I guess they could be charged with paintballing while black…and would white young men get the same treatment? Sheesh

  3. Yep, that looks pretty realistic and auditory exclusion / stress responses could make it hard to distinguish in a short time that it’s not ‘real’ when it’s shooting something at you.

    They’re lucky someone didn’t shoot them, and they deserve the charge which might as well be called ‘stupid’.

  4. Paintball markers can be very dangerous! General “speed limit” for organized/tournament play is 300 fps. More than enough to blind someone (w/o proper face protection) or drop you in your tracks with a shot to the twig and berry’s! “Outlaw” PB (unorganized pb) does not always have a speed limit. Many don’t want to spend the money on a chrono. Tournament markers can easily shoot over 15 bps too. Paintball markers really aren’t “toys”.

  5. Paintball on a public street at night is pretty stupid. I’m all for people having fun but keep it on a dedicated course or some area where people know what’s up. People tacticool up for Airsoft here and if they walked into a mall like that and started shooting i wouldn’t blame people for freaking out nor cops showing up.

    It’s also littering. Do you want that plastic crap all over your lawn? I don’t.

  6. What is a paintball rifle? There is no such thing. Just paintball markers (that we use to mark our opponents). It’s extremely frustrating to see idiots like these give the sport a black eye.

    • Other than technically lacking rifling it is a rifle just as any pellet or b.b. gun with a stock is a rifle. The projectile or propellant makes no difference.

  7. Drew,

    Not according to my state law (Washington).

    ” (16) “Rifle” means a weapon designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder and designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to use the energy of the explosive in a fixed metallic cartridge to fire only a single projectile through a rifled bore for each single pull of the trigger.”

    Rcw 9.41.010

    Paintball markers do not fit this definition. As an avid paintballer, who has played nationally, and greatly cares about the future and image if the sport, “rifle” is not a term I like to see associated with it. It perpetuates damaging stereotypes. Furthermore, my Ego, Matrix, Shocker, and Freeflow look nothing like a rifle.

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