In a letter to the editor of The Ledger, Mr. Epshire complains about the impact of paintball on the Florida city of Lakeland. It can be seen HERE .
Below is my response to Mr. Epshire’s complaints:
Mr. Epshire, I was disappointed in the extreme to see your ill informed, factually inaccurate letter to the editor posted in the Ledger.
To start off, a paintball marker is not a rifle or firearm of any type. In some countries and localities they may be regulated as an air rifle, but legally speaking a paintball marker is not and never will be a firearm. The propellant involved is either carbon dioxide or compressed air, which cannot and will not harm the environment.
Carbon dioxide is heavier than air, and as such once discharged it tends to settle on the ground, which conveniently gives plant life their prime food source, carbon dioxide and sunlight. Through the process of photosynthesis, the carbon dioxide is converted to oxygen. As you’re likely aware, animals intake oxygen and output carbon dioxide. This creates a symbiotic relationship between animals and plants, and since carbon dioxide is a natural substance rather than synthesized, powering a paintball marker’s pneumatics is an environmentally friendly exercise.
Furthermore, the materials used in the manufacture of paintballs (the ‘pellets’ you mention) are made out of food grade gelatin and the paintball fill itself is made from products that are non toxic and completely biodegradeable. In fact, if you were so inclined you could eat a paintball without any adverse affects whatsoever. However, since no flavors are included with the fill, it’s not something that I’d recommend.
Your reference to the Colorado shooter is nauseating to me. First and foremost, the use of real firearms bears little resemblance to using a paintball marker. Having spent time in the military as well as being the son of a police officer (the range officer, as a matter of fact!) and with 24 years experience as a paintball player I feel comfortable making this assertion. A paintball marker is designed to use either compressed air or carbon dioxide to propel a 3-5 gram paintball at roughly 200 miles per hour down a smooth bore barrel. A firearm launches a lead or lead/copper projectile at thousands of feet per second down a rifled barrel (unless it’s a shotgun, of course). If you’re pointing a loaded firearm at something or someone, your intent is to kill or destroy whatever you’re pointing that weapon at. If you’re pointing a paintball marker at someone during the course of a game, your intent is to eliminate an opponent, with the hope that during the next game said opponent will return to try and eliminate you! The differences in intent couldn’t be more stark.
During my long career as a paintball player, paintball writer and photographer I have had the opportunity to spend a large amount of time around paintball markers as they’re discharging. As of this writing, I have no hearing damage or reduction in aural perception. Furthermore, during my time living in Florida, I spent many weekends out at the paintball field(s) in Lakeland, so I’m familiar with the area around the paintball fields an the surrounding areas. Unless you or your friends were born with dog ears, I find it more likely that you’re looking for something to be offended by and to complain about rather than actually worried about ecological or noise concerns.
The city council in Lakeland has dealt with complaints raising the very same concerns that you have, and faced with the facts, the city council basically laughed the complainants out of their chambers, with good reason. Paintball is a safe, healthy activity that encourages fun, camaraderie, and is a great way to relieve tension.
Mr. Epshire, you have your rights as guaranteed under the first amendment to air your views as you see fit. However, using facts and actually researching something to gain knowledge to make your point will lead to you being taken more seriously, as well as your opinions. I’m confident that if you’d taken the time to actually understand the processes involved with paintball and maybe even taken the time to check out a field and see the players enjoying themselves, I’m willing to bet you wouldn’t have written the letter to the editor at all.
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