Paintball Rampage: Expect Charges of Possessing Paintball Guns to Be Tossed
One charge sticks out, however -- possession of a paintball gun, "which are illegal to own and carry in San Francisco."
Expect this charge to be discarded like so many used paintball targets. It always is. Because while it is indeed illegal to possess a paintball gun or air rifle in this city, that law has been obsolete for the better part of a decade.
See Also: Cops Buying "Illegal" Air Guns, Claims Merchant
SF Weekly first reported on this conundrum back in 2009. Under the Depression-era Police Municipal Code Section 602, owning or selling "sling shots" or "toys projecting missiles by air or gas" is a misdemeanor. This is a broad designation that would not only cover paintball guns or air rifles but, conceivably, toy guns firing foam projectiles.
|An "illegal" air rifle for any occasion|
The memo has not yet reached the San Francisco Police Department, however. In '09, Public Defender Jeff Adachi and then-District Attorney spokesman Brian Buckelew clearly stated that the city's paintball fatwa was overridden by state law -- and that mere possession charges for air rifles or paintball guns are always dropped as a result.
Adachi says he expects the same will happen now. And he's rankled this is still occurring in 2013. "Arguably, it's oppressive prosecution. They know this law is pre-empted. To charge a person, this person has to post bail for a charge that doesn't exist," he says. "I will talk to [Police Chief Greg] Suhr about it. Perhaps they should send out a memo advising their staff they should not be arresting people for this charge."