Are BB Guns Really Banned Inside City Limits?
I'm not jaded enough to think that a kids first bb gun is a right of passage for every child in this state, but it sure is for a large number of them. Whether it's the passing on of a family hunting tradition, a life lesson in responsibility, or just sharing your outdoor sports of target shooting, for those that embrace it, a kids first bb gun is sacred. But what if you live in Lawton? The way the law is written, it's a seems contradictory to itself. The firing of "any" weapon is unlawful inside city limits, but there's an allowance on private property?
The reason I bring it up is, someone asked me the other day if the City of Lawton was looking to change and clarify this municipal code. They had heard it was to be changed to better allow some good old fashion backyard fun... since it's fun I think you'll agree, it doesn't sound like our city council. Then again, maybe we're all in for a surprise. I'd love to tell you for sure, but given how I've been one of the only public voices to continually challenge their questionable and possible backdoor crony-capitalist deal to purchase the mall for much more than its value, you can understand how they'd never be available to take my call.
As it stands, the law is as follows:
16-4-4-466 - Discharging firearms and other dangerous weapons—Exception.
A. No person shall discharge any firearm, rifle, CO2 gun, air gun, BB gun, or slingshot.
B. This section shall not apply to the following circumstances:
1. In necessary self-defense of persons or property;
2. A law enforcement officer in the performance of his duty;
3. For the purpose of target shooting or practice on a range operated by qualified personnel; qualified personnel shall consist of either a certified firearms safety instructor, rifle or pistol marksmanship instructor certified by the National Rifle Association, or person designated by a rifle or pistol club, public or private school or military agency;
4. For the purpose of target shooting on private premises with air, spring or CO2 operated BB, pellet guns or slingshots if:
a. The target area is enclosed in such manner and with materials that will stop the projectiles;
b. Such target shooting is supervised by an adult at all times; and
c. Any safety precautions recommended by the chief of police are complied with.
5. In an area recommended as a hunting area by the state and approved by the chief of police. Such area shall be posted as required by the chief of police and may be closed at any time by the chief of police;
6. Where a permit is issued by the chief of police; or
7. Any military exercise or parade.
If you read the bold portion above, it doesn't seem like bb guns are illegal to discharge in your own back yard, provided you have an adequate backstop. Now, the vagueness here is, how does our brilliant overlords in city hall define an "enclosed" area to stop projectiles? I've had several bb guns over the years and I have yet to see a pellet or bb shoot through a wood fence. They're just not that powerful until you get into the large caliber air rifles which, at an average cost of +/-$1500, no parent would realistically let loose a child with anyway. So does this mean my fenced yard is an adequate enclosed area for teaching a child how to responsibly and accurately shoot a bb gun?
Perhaps the law can be interpreted as needing a fully enclosed area, but surely this doesn't mean I'd have to build a personal indoor bb gun shooting facility in my own back yard right? That's just ridiculous, but after the past year of unpopular mandates and poor decisions like spending our "new roads" money on a mall, one can never tell. Perhaps the law would only require a purpose built bullet trap to comply within municipal code.
These are built of steel and constructed to contain bb's and pellets... but then there's the safety aspect of firing a steel bb into steel. The lesson we learned in A Christmas Story was "don't shoot at a metal target" because, as was almost the case, you could shoot your eye out. Sure, there are some safety measures built in with the upper and lower outer lips to catch a ricocheted projectile, but I wouldn't want to trust the lowest manufacturing bidder in China with my safety. Read the reviews, they're pretty damning when it comes to the quality.
So the question remains, are bb guns illegal to fire inside the city limits of Lawton?