Washington (Reuters) – Professional paintball guns that fire darts at people and cars in a state where recreational shooting is legal are now banned from the nation’s capital, a U.S. district judge ruled on Friday, ruling that they pose a danger to public safety.
The District of Columbia’s first-ever ban on the paintball industry comes amid heightened scrutiny over the number of deaths at its indoor and outdoor ranges, which are common in the United States.
The ban came in response to a lawsuit by the families of five people killed in paintball accidents in Washington state in 2017 and 2018.
The ruling by U.N. Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples to self-determination, Robert Mood, came two months after the state enacted a law making it a felony for residents to use paintball or other recreational shooting to kill, maim or wound another person.
It also imposes a $100 fine on those who are convicted of violating the law.
In a statement on Friday morning, the United Nations said the ruling was “an important step forward to protect the lives of children and the public at large” and called on the federal government to “ensure that paintball and similar sports that are not legal under federal law are prohibited in the nation.”
The paintball shooting industry is among the fastest-growing businesses in the world, with annual sales in the millions.
It is banned under federal gun laws that apply to firearms and ammunition.
Justice Department had argued in its lawsuit that the D.C. ban is “inconsistent with international law and is not supported by scientific evidence.”
The ruling, however, was split along partisan lines.
The conservative Republican-led U.A.E. 2nd District Court of Appeals said the law was a reasonable attempt to protect public health and safety.
“The federal government must act swiftly to halt the reckless and unsafe expansion of a dangerous industry,” the conservative-leaning 3rd Circuit said in a statement.