Lucky Charms, ZDF
Join Date: Sep 2007
A Note on the Dangers of Mil-Sim Modding
I work as a police dispatcher by profession, and today I received a call that qualified as a reality check. I share this story here, because while it is not directly related, I think responsible players of this sport should be aware of it. Please bear with me, and you'll see what I mean.
At about 3pm our department received a call from a county police dispatcher, advising us that they had received calls from residents of our town, reporting several men with guns and masks outside a home nearby.
Needless to say, our department responded quickly to the area, with the aid of several nearby police departments. Upon arriving, the first officer on scene saw a man holding what appeared to be an assault rifle run into the open garage of a nearby home. Fearing the man was setting up an ambush, and having been told that there were multiple armed men reported, the officer unlocked his own assault rifle from his car, and prepared to confront the man as other officers arrived. Once all officers were in place (with their own fearsome array of assault rifles and shotguns) commands were issued for the suspect to emerge from the garage. After a tense moment, a man and 3 children emerged, their hands held high. The police kept them at gunpoint and searched them, before the scene was declared clear. Long story short, this guy and his kids were playing with Airsoft rifles in the yard, in full view of the neighbors. When they saw the police cars approaching, they ran into the garage to hide the airsoft guns. The Airsoft guns were confiscated from the scene. They were VERY realistic "Classic Army" M-16 style airsoft guns, all made of metal, and for all appearances were the real thing.
It is important to note here that our town is in a fairly affluent area, and has in the past seen it's fair share of strongarm and home-invasion robberies, some of which involved the use of guns. Not all of the guns used in those robberies were handguns, but rifles and shotguns as well. It is also important to note that in the age of violent incidents such as the one seen last week at Northern Illinois University, and in the wake of the infamous North Hollywood incident, police response to even the mere mention of firearm related incidents has become far more severe than in decades past.
I believe only a few things needed to go differently here today, and the outcome of this story could have been tragic. I realize I am adressing paintball players, and not Airsoft players here, but the trend in "modding" paintball guns to resemble a real firearm has become so predominant, especially with Tippmann markers such as the A5, that paintball players need to be aware of some of the same principal issues as it concerns the police.
1. I believe one should ALWAYS play in a commercial field designated for paintball whenever possible, to avoid confusion, shock, and fear in the reaction of the casual passer-by. It may cost more, but it is loads safer, and the cops will EXPECT to see devices that look like guns there.
2. If you are going to play "outlaw" ball, your playing field should be as far away from any passers-by as possible, and should still be marked as a paintball playing area with signs, ropes and whatever other boundaries one can think of. (Also, be sure to chrono!!!) My advice is make sure you have the EXPRESS permission of the property owner to play there, then call your local police and advise them of when and where you'll be playing . DO NOT play in your front yard, in your neighborhood, in the patch of woods between houses, and the like. You are just inviting trouble. Use common sense.
3.Wherever you play, be sure to use barrel blocking devices of a BRIGHT COLOR to attempt to distinguish that the marker is a toy when not in use.
4. If you are confronted by the police at any time while you are playing, or while you have your paint marker in hand, make NO sudden or threatening moves. Do WHATVER the officer(s) tell you to do, even if it means throwing down your marker. DO NOT get yourself killed over this game, or your marker.
I realize I am preaching to the converted as it concerns most of you. But for those who don't know, or those that think they know better, be warned. An accident is only one trigger pull away. A police officer fueled on adrenaline and fear responding to a "weapons involved" call can easily make a mistake when your airsoft or paintball gun is pointed in their direction. Play smart, and stay safe.
Zombie Defense Force, Local 42