Last week, the Thousand Oaks Planning Commission recommended the City Council grant the T.O. couple a special use permit to open an indoor recreation facility at 1260 Rancho Conejo Boulevard in Newbury Park where children and adults can do battle with air guns.
“Obviously, we’re very excited and grateful for that,” Jennifer Weak said after the commission’s unanimous vote.
The final decision rests with the City Council, which could hear the matter at its Feb. 7 meeting. If the council approves the permit, Weak said, she and her husband plan to open Patriot Airsoft within two months inside an 11,600-squarefoot building at the industrial complex near the Amgen campus.
Airsoft is a brand of air-pellet guns and assault weapons that look, feel and often weigh the same as real guns.
City law prohibits the discharge of firearms, even imitation ones, within city limits unless it’s within a sanctioned facility. In order to open a paintball or air gun range, a special use permit is required.
No such permits are currently in use in T.O.
Shooting a gun, even an imitation one, outdoors constitutes a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine, City Attorney Chris Norman said.
Thousand Oaks Police Capt. Bill Ayub said his department has no problem with the Weaks’ proposed business. But he does warn Airsoft gun owners against carrying the guns in public; he said it’s illegal for someone to handle an imitation gun in a threatening manner.
“It is a very big concern that these are very realistic guns out there in the hands of some teenagers . . . that’s definitely of concern,” Ayub said.
Ayub said this brand of air gun looks so realistic that T.O. police train with them.
State law requires the barrel of an imitation firearm to have an orange tip, although some users remove it. Those who do could be found guilty of a misdemeanor. The court sets the penalty for a misdemeanor.
“You could put one of those things next to a real gun and take a step back and your best gun expert’s not going to tell the difference,” he said.This is very disconcerting. As we have shown in cases posted here in just the last month at Kid Shootings, pellet guns can be dangerous, even deadly. Children have died after being shot by them. And their intentionally-realistic appearance has led to the scaring of citizens and even the recent death of a boy in Texas by police who thought he had a real handgun in school.
Whatever happened to the idea of paint ball? Or laser tag? Do people really need to knock it up a notch and shoot at each other with metal projectiles which have been shown to injure and even kill?
Right now the arena is in the approval phase. If you live in the area, we strongly urge you to weigh in on the dangers of these Airsoft weapons.