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Is a Paintball Gun Considered a Firearm?

A tricky question, and there are two ways to answer:

  1. A linguistical and logical approach where we look at the definitions of the word to determine whether or not a paintball gun is considered a firearm.
  2. A legal approach where we look up regulations on paintball guns to see whether the law considers paintball guns firearms.

Before answering this question, we need to look at some definitions.

What is the definition of a firearm?

A firearm is a weapon that uses an explosive charge to propel a projectile through a narrow tube.

In other words, a firearm can be any device that can shoot a projectile, such as a gun or a rifle. However, according to this definition, it should have an explosive charge, like using gunpowder to fire, to be considered a firearm. Do the paint pellet guns using high-pressured gas fit this definition?

In the United States, the laws regarding firearms are becoming stricter, and paintball guns may be considered firearms in some states.

Is a Paintball Gun Considered a Firearm or Weapon?

Technically, paintball guns are not considered firearms, as they do not use traditional gunpowder to propel their projectiles.

In some places, paintball guns may be classified as weapons. For example, airsoft guns and BB guns are considered weapons in some jurisdictions because they can fire projectiles that can cause injury.

If you are unsure whether owning a paintball gun is legal in your area, you should check with your local law enforcement agency.

Paintball Gun Regulations in the United States

Eight states in the United States have regulations on paintball guns and activities or laws regulating the sale of paintball guns:

  • Illinois
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
  • New York
  • New Jersey
  • Pennsylvania
  • Delaware
  • Virginia

These regulations differ on several points:

  • Weapon classification
  • Minors and age requirement to purchase or possess a paintball gun
  • Transporting paintball guns may be regulated
  • Prohibiting paintball guns in public places
  • Specific circumstances

Weapon classification

In New York and New Jersey, paintball guns using carbon dioxide are considered “air guns” and are regulated by those states’ criminal laws.

Age requirement

In Illinois, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire, there are regulations about selling paintball guns to minors and age requirements for possession.

In Rhode Island and New Hampshire, the age requirement to buy or own a paintball gun is 18 years old, whereas Illinois prohibits minors under 13 years old from owning a paintball gun. They may, however, be permitted to use paintball guns in certain situations under the supervision of parents or adults.


Pennsylvania law regulates transporting paintball guns in vehicles. It specifically states that the gun must be empty, not contain or be loaded with paintballs, and must be wrapped or boxed. The air tank must be disconnected from the paintball marker, and the paint pellets must be kept in a closed container.

Public places

Some laws dictate where you can use a paintball gun. Shooting a paintball gun on a street, road, sidewalk, highway, or public land is illegal, except for a target range or paintball field.

Specific circumstances

In Delaware, you can only use paintball guns on a farm. Schools in New Hampshire can expel students who own a paintball gun, and Pennsylvania does not allow using paintball guns outside of games.

Apart from these eight states, a paintball gun is not considered a firearm.

Are paintball Guns Legal to Own?

Owning a paintball gun is legal in most countries but may be considered a weapon. Ownership of a paintball gun is generally not restricted to any specific age group. In some countries, however, paintball gun ownership is regulated by law and has age requirements.

Does a Paintball Gun Require a License?

No, you do not need a license to use a paintball gun if your jurisdiction does not consider paintball guns firearms. Most regions regard paintball as a sport and do not use firearms in participation.

If you are in a jurisdiction that considers paintball guns to be firearms, it would most likely be illegal to own a paintball gun without a license, and in that case, you should not discharge a firearm without a permit.

Do You Have to Be 18 to Buy a Paintball Gun?

No, you don’t have to be 18 years old to buy a paintball gun in most parts of the world. The laws vary across regions, and you can be underage and still purchase one in most countries.

Can You Legally Shoot a Paintball Gun at Someone?

Unless paintball is outlawed in your country, it is legal to shoot a paintball at someone if they are the opponent during a game of paintball. It is legal if you have their consent and do not cause them harm. The objective of the sport is to eliminate opponents by shooting paintballs at them. Although paintball is a relatively safe sport, there are always risks involved when shooting at others with a paintball gun.

It may be illegal to shoot a paintball gun at someone who does not participate in the game or does not consent, especially if you injure them. Rules and regulations differ between states and countries, so it is always best to check with your local laws before shooting a paintball gun at someone else.

Can You Shoot a Paintball Gun at Trespassers?

It may be illegal to shoot a paintball gun at trespassers, and it is not advisable to do so unless it is in self-defense. If you fire a paintball gun at a trespasser, they can sue you for assault and battery.

Purchasing Paintballs

To purchase paintballs, you must first find a retailer that sells them. Most sporting goods stores will sell paintballs, as will many online retailers. In some regions, you must be 18 years old to purchase a paintball gun, as they are considered weapons. When purchasing paintballs, you must decide how many you want and what type of paintball gun you will use. The types of paintball guns are pump action, mechanical or electronic semi-automatic. Pump action guns are cheaper and require you to pump the gun each time you want to shoot a paintball. Semi-automatic guns are more expensive, but they shoot faster and do not require you to pump the gun each time.