Control air, pellet guns: police

Calls for tougher laws on air guns after Calgary teen loses sight in one eye in paintball attack.

There are calls for tougher regulations for air guns after a Calgary girl lost sight in an eye in a drive-by shooting.

The incident is similar to one in Vancouver where several teens staged a series of attacks in June and videotaped them. Police have charged four people. Police say air gun incidents are on the rise across the country.

Edmonton police report three paintball attacks this week, likely the work of the same person or persons.

"It is a concern that young guys might get their hands on them and not understand what sort of pain they can inflict, or understand and still not care," said Wes Bellmore of Edmonton Police.

Police say paintballs can cause serious damage to people and property. They're easy to purchase through places such as Canadian Tire and Wal-Mart. There are no regulations on paintball guns and equipment.

The Canada Safety Council says more needs to be done to curb their use.

"Fifty children are admitted to hospitals each year. Eight to 10 of these children lose an eye," said Emile Therien of the council.

While airguns that can shoot projectiles at a velocity of more than 500 feet (152 metres) per second are considered firearms and require a license to buy, most pellet and paintball guns aren't that powerful, so anyone can buy them.

Many stores have their own rules, refusing to sell to anyone under 18. Some Web sites say they don't sell to anyone under 18. But the guns used in the Calgary attack were bought at Canadian Tire by 15 and 16-year-olds.

Jennifer Sexton of Canadian Tire says the store doesn't know how the youths got their hands on the guns and says the company does what it can to "promote safe and responsible use."

"Most places (are) self-regulating," said James Cox of the Calgary store The Shooting Edge. "You can't buy a pellet gun if you're under 18 without parental consent."

Therien says that's not good enough.

"Lawn darts are regulated, we think pellet guns should fall under the...Hazardous Products Safety Act.

Retailers and paintball game operators call it ludicrous, similar to restricting baseball bats should people use them to attack others.

"The onus is still on the parent to make sure they know what the kids are doing," said Richard Cuckow of M.R. Paintball.