by B.B. Pelletier

I frequently get calls from lawyers wanting expert advice on the lethality of airguns. Sometimes, these questions are even about airsoft guns. As difficult as it is to imagine in this paranoid age of zero tolerance, there are still children who take airsoft guns and low-powered BB or pellet guns to school or brandish them in public. When they are caught, the consequences are dire.

The latest call came from an incident that happened last year. A teenaged boy was caught on a school bus in possession of a PPK/S. The lawyer is very tight-lipped about whether it was a BB gun or an airsoft gun, but he wants an opinion on the lethality of the “weapon.”

There ARE dumb questions after all!
I was wrong to say there are no dumb questions. Because whenever a DEFENSE lawyer uses the emotionally loaded term “weapon” when referring to his client, he is setting up the case to lose (e.g., When did you stop beating your wife?).

AN AIRGUN IS NOT A WEAPON! Airguns are not recognized as self-defense weapons, except for a very limited range of less-lethal weapons. Law enforcement does not include airguns in their list of offensive weapons. Yes, there are specific uses for airguns in both law enforcement and the military (rubber bullet launchers, tasers and pepper ball launchers, for example), but they do not include using the airgun as an offensive WEAPON. Calling an airgun a weapon is as dumb as calling a firearm a “real gun.” Especially when your defense attorney does it!

Lethality is not the issue!
I don’t know where the term “lethal” entered into the conversation, either, but it has nothing to do with the case, unless the shool makes a distinction between lethal and non-lethal guns. That’s hard to believe. The real problem is the school’s policy. If their policy prohibits bringing guns of any kind onto school property (the school bus is school property), then that is the only issue on which to focus.

Time for REAL parenting!
Enough of this incident. The core issue lies with families and how society relates to them today. Fifty years ago, all adults looked after all children, more or less. Any adult could scold any child doing something wrong in public and, unless the situation was very bizarre, the parents of the child would accept the correction. Children had no “rights,” because they were dependent minors.

That situation has changed dramatically. Today, an adult who corrects a child other than his own risks a lawsuit. And, in some circumstances, they also risk legal action even when correcting their own children. I am not judging whether this is bad or good; it’s just the way things are. So, parents have to educate their children more than ever before on the pitfalls of society, because they are now treated as almost fully franchised citizens. Even with that, there isn’t complete protection.

I will finish this discussion tomorrow.