The Olympics were originally designed to mimic the games of ancient Greece with events that simulated the traits necessary to excel as a warrior. In modern times, being able to wrestle isn't nearly as important as being able to shoot. Maybe paintball, then, is a better modern-day way to give reverence to the original theme of the games than anything else. Then again, maybe not.
With the advent of modern technology, events that never were part of the original Olympics have been added including air rifle events. If the air rifle is Olympic worthy, surely the paintball gun couldn't be discounted simply because of its modern technology. In my opinion, the real reason paintball will never make it into the Olympics and doesn't deserve a place in the Olympics is because it is a fringe sport with no set rules and a negative image.
While basic rules of paintball remain the same, a game in an NPPL tournament or a PSP event are very different. If you compare those rules with backyard capture the flag or SPPL, the differences are even more apparent. The IOC could simply decide to adopt one of the game formats at the expense of all others, but that still wouldn't increase the sport's popularity or change its image.
I've read figures that claim 10 million people play paintball in the United States. While this is slightly misleading since the numbers are skewed to include people who have played paintball once in the past year, that is still a large number of people. If 10 million people have also played the sport in the rest of the world, there seems like an adequate fan base to justify the inclusion of the sport. The problem, though, is that 20 million people (being very generous with my estimates) who play paintball is still only 1/315th of the world's population. Of these people who do play, very few live in big cities and that's a problem.
If you search for "paintball" in New York City, you only get five hits (and two are in New Jersey) while "gymnastics" returns 82 and "fishing" returns over 900. More than half of the world's population lives in big cities and most simply don't have access to the sport. To make matters worse, many of the members of the International Olympic Committee live in these big cities. To them, paintball is a quaint event similar to NASCAR and Roller Derby - millions may enjoy it but it's not an international sport. Even Baseball and Softball have been dropped from the Olympics since they primarily appeal to Americans. If these sports that appeal to millions and millions of very devoted fans don't appeal to the international community, why would paintball?
One final problem that paintball has is that its image to many non-players is quite negative. I've talked to countless people about paintball and many non-players can't believe that I would play such a violent sport. With a little bit of explanation about the safety of the sport, they usually have a better idea of it, but there's no way that this image is going to change any time soon.
Is it impossible for paintball to make it to the Olympics? Of course not. One group has even started a petition requesting that it be accepted. If they succeed, I will be very happy for the exposure the sport receives, though my guess is that paintball will never become an Olympic sport. While it's a wonderful sport that can be enjoyed by almost anyone, I think it is better suited to individual tournaments and backyard play than to a rigid, formalized structure that the Olympics would provide. Paintball would probably be my best chance at ever becoming an Olympic athlete, but if I never get that chance, I'll be just fine.