Airsoft And The Law
Airsoft is a modern, military simulation shooting sport that makes use of round, plastic BB pellets as ammunition. Whilst Airsoft guns are legal in lots of countries, there are certain places in the world where they are not, so it’s important you have all of the facts.
Airsoft restrictions can vary from country to country, including areas such as maximum muzzle energy, real firearm trademarks and marking requirements (e.g. bright orange barrel tips)
Airsoft guns are federally banned, although Airsoft Australia has made significant progress in legalisation. They are currently illegal in QLD and those with them can be prosecuted as if they were real weapons.
Airsoft laws are a little hazy from state to state – and on the whole, airsoft is banned because the markers used to play resemble actual firearms.
Airsoft guns and pistols more than 0.08 joule can be purchased in specialised weapon shops only and all users have to be at least 18 years old. Austria airsoft laws are very strict, airsoft players have to wear eye protection at all times during airsoft events. It is strictly forbidden to remove or disable the safety mechanism of airsoft guns.
In public places, it is required by law to carry airsoft guns in a holster or bag. Airsoft weapons are not allowed to be carried in a way that might scare other people.
The use of airsoft guns is only allowed on private property with the permission of the owner. It is strictly forbidden to shoot airsoft guns in public places, such as streets, parks or forests.
Airsoft laws in Austria are some of the most strict in Europe. Airsoft players have to be very careful to follow all the rules and regulations in order to avoid getting into trouble with the law.
Belgium’s airsoft laws are very similar to Germany’s airsoft laws. Airsoft is allowed, but players must be at least 18 years old and have a valid airsoft license. There are several airsoft clubs in Belgium that offer airsoft courses and events.
Airsoft guns and pistols can only be bought at officially licensed dealers, who carry a government permit along with a certified weapon of defence (W.O.D.) to import and sell firearms.
Organisations are able to run airsoft events as long as they’re not affiliated with any ideological/religious agendas. It is forbidden to display or carry airsoft replicas in public. Events must take place in private locations. Airsoft replicas should never exceed 7.5 Joule measured 2.5 meters from the barrel tip.
Owning and renting out airsoft replicas is unrestricted. The sale of airsoft replicas to minors is forbidden, including sales over the internet (such as on eBay).
Airsoft is legal in Bulgaria with no restrictions placed on airsoft guns. People between 14–18 years old need their parent’s permission. For the rest (18 and above) there are no restrictions. The Bulgarian law considers Airsoft guns to be Airguns – you don’t need any documents, licenses or anything else to possess them.
However, shooting in “protected” (quote from the law) areas is forbidden. Protected areas are schools, administrative buildings and other public property. Also, shooting with an Airgun/Airsoft gun in public areas is forbidden.
There are no restrictions on carrying, possessing or using Airsoft guns in Bulgaria. There are no restrictions about the age of the players (traders don’t sell Airguns/Airsoft guns to minors <18 though). There are no restrictions about lasers, flashlights etc. Basically, you could put anything on your gun. There’s no need for the end of the barrel to be painted in orange (like in the United States)
There are no restrictions about the power of the Airguns/Airsoft guns – you could buy a 1J Airsoft as well as an 80J PCP Airgun There are no restrictions about carrying Airsoft guns in public areas (it is not a good idea, however).
From the Canada Firearms Centre’s fact sheet on airguns: Airsoft guns that closely resemble real firearms are classified as replica firearms and can only be imported by companies possessing a Business Firearms License.
It is unlawful to sell or transfer replica firearms without this license. Air guns with both a muzzle velocity greater than 152.4 metres per second (500 ft/s) and muzzle energy greater than 5.7 joules (4.2 ft•lbf) are considered firearms for the purpose of the Canadian Firearms Act.
For example, an airsoft BB leaving the barrel at 213 metres per second (700 ft/s) and weighing 0.20 grams (3.1 gr), has a muzzle energy of 4.43 joules (3.27 ft•lbf). No legal distinction is made between airsoft and true firearms when they are used for the purposes of crime.
In Ontario, the minimum age to purchase airsoft is 18. Children under 18 must be supervised by someone over 18. Airsoft guns imported into the country by private citizens are at risk of being seized and destroyed at the border by customs agents.
The few Canadian airsoft retailers that exist take advantage of this fact and the prices are high in comparison to other countries.
The People’s Republic of China
In the People’s Republic of China, Airsoft guns have been illegal for years in mainland China. However, it is essentially an underground sport, and local authorities have been raiding this sport – people carrying these guns have been arrested and their stocks have been confiscated by the government.
Market stalls and Shops have stopped selling airsoft guns. It is legal in China’s SARs (Special Administrative Regions, such as Macau and Hong Kong) but it has begun to go underground there as well, several cargo companies already refuse to do anything with them.
Ironically, the majority of the world’s airsoft guns are manufactured in China.
In Macau, China, all airsoft guns are legal but may not be fired with a muzzle energy above two (2) joules of kinetic energy. The airsoft gun must have an orange tip measuring at least six (6) millimetres. Airsoft guns may not be carried in public unless they are properly stored in a bag or case.
It is also illegal to modify airsoft guns to make them look more realistic.
Penalties for breaking the law may include a maximum fine of MOP 5,000 (US$625) and up to three months in jail.
Airsoft guns are mentioned in the Danish “Våbenlov” (Arms control legislation). You must be at least 18 years old to buy, hand over or possess airsoft guns. You can use airsoft guns, on police-approved sites, with a permission slip, at the age of 16. You do not require a firearms certificate to own airsoft guns in Denmark.
There are several airsoft associations and clubs in Denmark, which can help you get started with the sport. The biggest airsoft association is Dansk Airsoft Union (DAU).
The transportation of replica firearms, i.e. airsoft guns that are visible in public areas is forbidden, but they are not classified as firearms by law. All replica firearms must be covered with something, for example, a weapon case.
To play airsoft, you will need the land owner’s permission to play there. Those under the age of 18 are able to buy airsoft guns with written permission from their legal guardians.
As in Finland, the transportation of replica firearms in public is forbidden if visible. All replica firearms must be covered with, for example, a weapon case. Permission from land owners is needed to play airsoft anywhere.
Those under the age of 18 can only buy or use airsoft guns under 0.08 joules in power. Airsoft guns’ power cannot exceed 2 joules, otherwise, they are considered to be a weapon and must be registered.
Airsoft guns under 0.5 joule are considered toy guns and can be freely sold to all persons above 3 years of age. Distributors agreed to raise the limit to at least 14 years of age. [This is realised and the limit is thus 14 years]
All airsoft guns between 0.5 joules and 7.5 joules must be bolt-action or semi-automatic only and can only be sold to people 18 years or older. These are considered “free” firearms, as a result: Sales of guns of more than 0.5 joules are allowed only in weapon shops.
Guns must be marked with the trader’s weapon abbreviation and an F-in-a-pentagon mark as well as the airsoft gun calibre (such as 6 mm BB). Target illuminating devices and lasers may not be attached to guns but are legal otherwise. For example possession of a flashlight is allowed, even shooting with the flashlight in one hand and the gun in the other; but attaching it via mount ring to the rail system of a gun is not.
Devices made specifically for the purpose of being attached to a gun (like certain flashlights with integrated foregrip for mil-spec rail) are prohibited. While the possession of airsoft guns is allowed, the actual use in a game is (at least) hotly debated.
For sure, most players using guns with more than 0.5 joule muzzle energy leave Germany to play in countries like France, Belgium, Denmark or the Czech Republic.
In Greece, airsoft is very much an underground sport as the law is unclear. In Greek law, airsoft guns are not classified as real firearms and they are free to be purchased from shops.
Those under 18 years of age, they cannot buy or use airsoft guns unless there is parental supervision. Replica guns cannot be visible to the public.
The use of lasers, scopes and flashlights on a replica weapon is prohibited by the law.
Airsoft guns are legal in Hong Kong but there are some restrictions on their use. Airsoft guns may not be fired with a muzzle energy above 2 joules.
You are only allowed to play airsoft in private areas and non-country park areas. You may not reveal the airsoft guns in public areas.
In Indonesia, airsoft guns are neither decidedly classified as toys nor real guns, and there are no harsh guidelines or rules about the sport. However, the founders of Indonesian airsoft communities put some restrictions on airsoft games.
For example, airsoft players are prohibited to upgrade their gun to above 100m/s, or they’ll be rejected from the community. Those who want to purchase an airsoft gun must be at least 18 years old and know the regulations and rules surrounding airsoft guns.
Some unfortunate events have occurred that could endanger the continuity of the hobby, such as robberies that have taken place in which airsoft replicas were used. Therefore, in order to control its growth, there is a govt authorized club called PERBAKIN (Indonesian Shooting Club) which is currently appointed by the police to accommodate.
Airsoft as a newborn sport. However, this information about Perbakin may be inaccurate, as an anonymous tip informs us that PERBAKIN does not have any agenda whatsoever relating to airsoft IT is most likely that Airsoft will be under IPSC supervision since one of the sport’s types can be categorized as IPSC (practical shooting) and not just only as skirmish (war game).
However this statement may only be a wishful thinking considering how little attention the government is paying to this activity. The government hasn’t approved skirmish as a sport, they only permit target shooting and IPSC only.
In other words, if you want to play airsoft, you should become a member of this Perbakin Club and not participate in skirmishes, but only in IPSC.
Airsoft’s status in Ireland was changed after the 2006 Criminal Justice Act, which updated the previous Firearms Acts from 1925, 1963, 1972 and 1990. Authorisation or a license was once required for all devices which fired a projectile from a barrel, however the law now defines a firearm as:
”An air gun (including an air rifle and air pistol) with a muzzle energy greater than one joule of kinetic energy or any other weapon incorporating a barrel from which any projectile can be discharged with such a muzzle energy”
The aim of this change was to establish a minimum power a device must have to be classified a firearm in order to eliminate the legal oddity where toy suction cup dart guns and the like were legally classified as firearms, bringing Ireland in line with the rest of the EU.
In this case, one joule was used as the limit, as opposed to seven joules in Germany, 12 foot-pounds force (8.9 J) in the UK and so on. The one-joule limit most likely arose from UK case law where it was found that energies in excess of one joule were required to penetrate an eyeball (thus causing serious injury).
As a result, airsoft devices under one joule of power have been declassified and have become perfectly legal to possess and use within The Republic of Ireland. Those over one joule of power remain perfectly legal to possess and use within the Republic, so long as a firearms certificate is applied for and granted by the local Garda superintendent – but they are at this point classed legally as actual firearms.
Airsoft devices with a muzzle energy in excess of one joule must be licensed and as such must have a serial number marked indelibly on them; with firearms, this is achieved by stamping or engraving the number on the receiver or other critical component of the firearm; for airsoft devices which do not have such serial numbers, one must be indelibly marked on the airsoft device.
A discussion on the exact manner in which this is to be done should be had with the local Garda Superintendent, as different Superintendents may have different preferences for this.
However it should be noted that the airsoft device in question would then legally be a licensed firearm and shooting any person with it would constitute assault, furthermore, no Airsoft site in Ireland would allow any player to use an airsoft device in excess of 1 Joule, licensed or not.
In Israel, airsoft guns are classified as “dangerous toys” which makes airsoft illegal to import, manufacture and sell. This law is not very well enforced, however, and it is possible to find retailers who import MPEG level airsoft guns and also AEG level airsoft guns.
Israeli airsofters have created an airsoft association in an attempt to make airsoft legal – Girit Airsoft Association in Israel. Girit is cooperating with the Israeli Shooting Federation, joining it shortly as a member and cooperating with other governmental authorities in an attempt to make airsoft legal in Israel. For more information, you may refer to http://www.airsoft.org.il
Girit Airsoft Association has established cooperation with USAPSA, Ukrainian, Slovenian, Swedish and Czech airsofters. An Israeli national airsoft tactical shooting competition took place near Beit Berel in March 2007.
Airsoft guns and pistols are allowed a muzzle velocity below 100 m/s (328 ft/s) i.e. equivalent to a muzzle energy equal or minor to 1 joule: under the law, airsoft guns are not classified as firearms but as toys. You can buy and sell them both from stores and from another private citizen, either domestically or from abroad: Internet purchasing and mail shipping is legal and unrestricted.
No license or registration is required. Red tips must be present on the barrel ends of the airsoft gun when they are imported and sold by a store. Once you own the airsoft gun, you may remove the red tip; however, the similarity between genuine firearms and airsoft replicas is close enough to provoke interaction with law enforcement personnel if an airsoft gun is mistaken for its real counterpart.
Airsoft used to commit a crime is treated as if you had the real gun, assault weapons carry an extra mandatory sentence in addition to the regular punishment for the crime committed. As the law limits the muzzle energy that an airsoft replica can develop before being classified by law as an air gun, modifying an airsoft gun to deliver more power or to shoot anything other than 6 mm BB plastic pellets is a felony.
There is no mandatory minimum age to purchase airsoft and/or use it during a regular match; the Italian Ministry of Interior only recommends that their sale be restricted to people over the age of 18, or 14 if accompanied by a parent or legal tutor or if the replica is not particularly realistic or powerful (i.e. low-grade airsoft products). Usage and open carriage of air soft guns in public places is forbidden. ]
You can play on a private property away from public sight, or in a well-delimited private or state property after having asked the local authorities for a limited-time permit (usually from 6 to 48 hours), and having alerted the local police command, to avoid alarmed citizens calling for emergency.
In Japan, airsoft guns are legal, but may not shoot with a muzzle energy above 0.98 joules. Legal requirements are set on airsoft model manufacturers to prevent any possibility of a replica weapon being converted into an actual firearm.
Standards include (but are not limited to) use of low-melting point metals and non-ballistic plastics in structural components and incompatibility of mechanical components with actual firearm components and mechanisms.
The overall litmus test used by the Japanese National Police Authority is whether the replica weapon can be made to chamber and fire an actual round of ammunition. These standards have proven successful within Japan, as it has been found that criminal elements discovered that it is significantly easier to purchase an actual illegal weapon in comparison to modifying a comparatively fragile replica into a functional firearm.
Due to this reality, most crimes involving a threat of physical violence are perpetrated with edged weapons, as firearms seen in public are (by default) believed to be toys by the public at large.
All airsoft guns are treated under the national weapon law and demand a personal user certificate.
Registration of any sort is not required for airsoft weapons, however, they are only available for purchase to people over 18 years. Airsoft players have established unan official set of rules, which regulates the behaviour of players belonging to the community.
The law places full restrictions on Airsoft Weapons, rendering possession illegal. When one looks at the Dutch law on this subject, airsoft is not explicitly mentioned, and the characteristics of airsoft weapons would place the weapons in Category I of the Dutch gun laws (legal to own and operate without a license).
However, the Dutch Ministry of Justice can make exceptions, which it has for airsoft weapons, (The reason given is that the weapons look so realistic, that they can be used for intimidation), placing airsoft weapons that are 1:1 replicas and/or realistic in Category IV (illegal without any possibility of acquiring a permit).
The sport itself has the same legal status as paintball, but since Airsoft players prefer 1:1 realistic replicas the Dutch players travel to Belgium instead.
Single-shot and semi-automatic (all automatic weapons require a special restricted endorsement) air-powered weapons are legal to possess and use in New Zealand, provided that the person is either over 18 years of age, or 16 with a firearms license.
A person under 18 may not possess an air gun but may use one under the direct supervision of someone over 18 or a firearms license holder. It is illegal to use these weapons in any manner that may endanger or intimidate members of the public (pointing, brandishing, etc) except where there is reasonable cause, such as anin Airsoft game.Police, New Zealand, Airguns Factsheet, http://www.police.govt.nz/service/firearms/infosheet04.html, retrieved on 2007-07-24
The Arms control legislation (Våpenforskrift) requires players to be at least 18 years old to buy, hand over, possess and use airsoft guns. A firearms certificate is not required.
Airsoft guns must be marked with an orange tip at the barrel’s end and may not exceed 3 joules of muzzle energy. airsoft equipment is only allowed to be used in areas specifically designated for airsoft.
Norway has no specific airsoft laws, but airsoft guns are considered replica firearms and therefore subject to the same general laws and restrictions as actual firearms. This means that airsoft guns may not be carried in public places, except when going to and from an airsoft event or club. Airsoft guns must also be stored in a locked container.
It is illegal to modify airsoft guns to make them more realistic, or to increase the muzzle velocity above 3 joules. It is also illegal to remove the orange tip from airsoft guns.
Organised airsoft started in 1985, and interest in the hobby has gone up and down, several times over the past 20 years. The airsoft gaming community initially conducted their games in secrecy, but in recent years has reached the mainstream due to the tremendous surge of newbies, owing to the advent of cheap Chinese-manufactured airsoft guns.
Airsoft teams are mostly clan organized, with a number of groups claiming representation, to a certain extent, of the local airsoft community, organising and coordinating between local teams, especially during big events where hundreds of players from teams all over the country converge on selected venues for friendly tournaments.
Letter of Instruction 1264, a Presidential Directive, signed by former President Ferdinand E. Marcos in 1982, bans the import, sale and public display of gun replicas, but the purchase of airsoft guns and the movement of airsoft players are largely untouched by the government, with only a few confiscated shipments marring that record.
No direct regulations have been placed on the airsoft community, and players of all ages and backgrounds are welcome to play. Philippine law considers any contraption a firearm if it fires a projectile larger than 5.5 mm in diameter, however, local media has suggested that airsofting will soon be considered officially legal provided there are a few exceptions like the proposed ordinance of repainting the replica gun to make it look less realistic and more distinguishable from an authentic firearm (similar to laws in the United States).
However, given the structure of the Philippine government and their method of operation, such a ratification may take several years to be processed. As of 24 July 2006, the-then Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief General Oscar Calderon signed a Memo approving a petition for classification of airsoft guns as air guns under current PNP Rules and Regulations dated 29 January 1992, thus providing an opportunity for legal ownership and transport of airsoft guns under specific conditions.
Despite the approval of the memo, its validity is still the subject of debate. Under Philippine law, a memo from the Chief PNP amending the PNP Rules and Regulations cannot overrule, repeal or amend a Presidential directive. Only the Legislative body, the Supreme Court or the present President can do so. Since the PNP has the authority to classify what constitutes a gun replica and airsoft guns were deemed different from replicas there may be no need to repeal LOI 1264 in order to achieve full legalisation of airsoft in the Philippines.
At present, the current PNP Chief Director, General Avelino Razon Jr has signed a revised version of the 2006 Memo and has given the airsoft community 6 months to comply with revised rules and regulations. Airsoft guns must now be registered and airsofters must also sequester a permit to legally transport their guns to authorised game sites. Unregistered airsoft guns may be confiscated.
Airsoft guns fall into the same category as paintball guns and air-powered guns, up to 17 Joules they are not considered to be weapons (above 17J they become pneumatic weapons requiring registration) and are available to people over 18 years of age, registration of any sort replica under 17 Joules limit is not required.
There’s no need for the end of the barrel to be painted in orange or any other similar markings. The age restriction, however, is not strictly enforced and many cheap spring replicas can be found in toy shops due to the common practice of labelling them as “toys”.
Generally, the Police considers airsoft replicas toys rather than “non-lethal weapons”. It is not forbidden to display or carry airsoft replicas in public, but as it may lead to unplesant encounter with local police it is better to avoid it. The Customs also recognize airsoft and allow their private import. The Polish airsoft community has formulated “Airsoft Rules”, an unofficial set of rules regarding airsoft as a whole.
While they are not enforced in any specific way, abiding by “Airsoft Rules” is a sign of “playing fair” and belonging to the community. Excerpts from “Airsoft Rules”: Eye protection must be worn at all times during the game. Brandishing replicas in public places is not allowed.
Doing so may lead to ejection from the community. Local law enforcement (police, Forest Guard etc.) must be informed prior to every airsoft game taking place in the area. Players between 16 and 18 years of age are able to participate in airsoft games only with written permission from their parents.
Airsoft is legal in Portugal under the name of Softair. Softair falls into a specific category designated as “Arma de softair” or in English “softair gun”.
According to the new Guns and Ammunitions Act (DR – Lei n.°5/2006 de 23 de Fevereiro – Regime Jurídico das armas e suas munições) some of the main excerpts are: Any softair gun must be totally or partially painted in fluorescent red or yellow colour; Maximum energy level at muzzle exit must not exceed 1.3 Joules (or 374 ft/s); Softair gun purchases limited to: Minimum age of 18; Only for sport practice; Buyer/gun owner must be registered in a softair federation; Softair players/gun owners don’t need to possess Public Liability insurance; Other special limitations may apply to softair gunsmiths and players.
This information is an excerpt of the law, for further information refer to full document (DR – Lei n.°5/2006).
Law nr. 295 from 2004 (Regimul Armelor si Munitiilor) regulates all use of weapons and associated ammunition: The law is quite unclear (in what concerns airsoft weapons) as to whether this kind of weapon classifies as a “non-lethal weapon” or “toy”.
The law regulates the use of air-powered weapons (e.g.sport/competition use, that uses a metal projectile) under the “non-lethal” category and solely requires that you (1) are at least 18 years old and (2) register your weapon at the police precinct nearest to your location.
The law specifies that usage of night vision (infrared) or laser aiming devices designed for military use is completely restricted to members of the army and associated entities even if the aiming device is used on a lower-restriction category weapon (e.g. such as on an airsoft gun).
The law, however, does not restrict in any way the use of aiming devices not designed for military use. The law specifies that, should you attempt to use a non-lethal or replica gun to perform (or attempt to perform) armed robbery, you shall be prosecuted as if a real gun had been used.
Airsoft and paintball replicas can not be covered by Law nr. 295/2004 regarding the Guns and Ammo regime (Regimul armelor si al munitiilor), they are not listed in the law’s annexe as a gun because of their destination and mode of operation, therefore there’s no need for an authorization to buy, own and use them.
A new addition to the law 295/2004 was made at 17/02/2008 called OUG 28/2008 which add further restrictions to the forms and regulations.
Airsoft guns have status similar to the Czech Republic and Slovenia, where they are considered to be firearms All firearms are governed by law 190/2003, airsoft guns fit into weapon class D (§7b), no permit is needed. The use of airsoft guns is allowed by players that are least 18 years old.
Guns may not have an energy greater than 15 joules. The use of laser sights or night vision scopes is forbidden, attaching a laser sight to any weapon makes it a class A (prohibited) weapon.
The owner of a gun is required by law to secure the weapon when not using it.
One has to be at least 18 years to buy airsoft guns. If the velocity of an airsoft gun is below 100 m/s (328 ft/s) i.e. equivalent to 1 joule, it is considered to be a toy.
If the velocity is higher than 100 m/s (328 ft/s), the airsoft gun is classified as a section D weapon in the Firearms control legislation of Slovenia. Additionally, Air Soft Clubs and National Shooters Association in Slovenia recommend that airsoft gun velocities should not be above 100 m/s (1 J).
Used to be legal, no age limit to purchase Airsoft guns. One year after the sport was introduced in the country it was banned due to safety issues. A petition is underway hoping to legalise Airsoft.
Currently, only a few clubs in Singapore have managed to set up IPSC shootings using Airsoft guns, with permission from the government and firearm licenses. Currently, the clubs allow purchasing of Airsoft pistols but these are not allowed to be taken back to the home.
There are no skirmishes except the shooting of paper targets. Airsoft is not regulated due to the outdated gun law. They fall in the category of “replica weapons” of this law and should not be carried away from home.
The fine if caught carrying the replica is normally 300€ and the seizure of the gun. However, in some areas the local authorities let airsofters play on private zones with their permission. It’s legal to buy, possess and sell airsoft replicas and accessories, but sometimes there have been problems with customs.
One must be at least 18 years old to buy airsoft weapons. Minors under the age of 18 can only use an airsoft weapon under the close supervision of someone older than 20. However, this law is meant for target shooting at a range.
Thus there is no legal way for a minor to own or play airsoft. A parent that buys a weapon for their child commits a crime. In order to possess a Co2, air or spring-operated firearm without a license the impact energy of a projectile fired at a distance of 4 meters(from the muzzle) must be less than 10 joules.
If it is semi or fully automatic the impact energy must be less than 3 joules.
Airsoft guns are not considered subject to weapon legislation and no permission is necessary. All types of laser sights are forbidden.
There are currently certain restrictions on the possession of airsoft replicas, which came in with the introduction of the ASBA (Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003) Amendments, which prohibit the possession of any firearms replica in a public place without good cause (to be concealed in a hard gun case or sealed container only not to be left in view of public at any time) .
The prohibition of self-contained gas cartridge weapons similar to that made by Brocock can arguably apply to Moscarts and BB-Shower grenade systems, however, a formal case precedent has yet to be set. There were initial concerns among the airsoft community that the Violent Crime Reduction Bill (passed an Act in November 2006, but not yet commenced) would in future prevent airsoft skirmishers from buying realistic imitation firearms.
However, on the 20th of September 2006, the Association of British Airsofters (ABA) received a letter from Tony McNulty (Minister of State for Security, Counter-Terrorism, Crime and Policing at the Home Office) saying that he has “decided to provide a defence for airsoft skirmishing in relation to the ban on the sale etc. of realistic firearms”. There has been confirmation airsoft will receive an exemption. This letter has been scanned and reproduced on the ABA website .
Note that membership of the ABA may be required in order to view the letter. Since then, the Bill has received Royal Assent, and while now Statute Law in the UK, is still a matter of some (at times heated) discussion in the UK Airsofting community – not least of which is the question as to how the Act, and Specific Defence, will work, the process of which is still being decided upon at the Home Office, at the time of this edit (5 December 2006).
The Defence will be based on whether or not a person is a Skirmisher. One of the measures put in place by retailers to aid in identifying Skirmishers is a database of skirmishers registered in a central database. A person must be a regular skirmisher (i.e. skirmish 3 or more times in no less than two months) in order to be registered, and the airsoft site they register/skirmish at must hold public Public Liability Insurance.
Once a skirmisher is registered they receive a membership card and must produce this before buying or trading airsoft weapons from these retailers, though not a legal requirement (As long as you can prove that you are an airsoft skirmisher you may purchase Realistic Imitation Firearms or RIFs. (Airsoft guns deemed to be realistic.)
It is expected that HM Customs & Excise will also have access to the database to verify the identity of importers. The VCRA (Violent Crime Reduction Act) came into effect as of the 1st October 2007, thus meaning that RIF (Realistic Imitation Firearms) can only be purchased by registered members of an airsoft skirmish site (accessories and ammunition are not covered by the VCRA).
Only those people over the age of 18 can purchase Replica Imitation Firearms. IF (Imitation Firearms), however, are still legal and may be purchased by anyone 18 or over and used by any age, regardless of membership status. These usually take the form of “Two-Tone” guns – normal Airsoft guns, that have around 50% of the gun painted or manufactured in bright colours in order to mark them out clearly as Imitation Firearms and not Realistic Imitation Firearms.
However there is still nothing in the books preventing people from painting the gun after purchase.
Under Federal Law, Airsoft guns are not classified as firearms and are legal for all ages under federal law, as well as the laws in each state. However, in some major cities and population centres, the definition of a firearm within their respected ordinances includes propulsion by spring or compressed air, and airsoft is thus subject to applicable laws.
A 6 mm minimum orange tip must be present on the barrel end of the airsoft gun(or clear/transparent body) to identify it as such for any commercial sales. Once sold, local laws may vary on whether or not the orange tip must be kept – in many places, no laws exist restricting one from removing or replacing the orange tip, but one should check the local laws before making such a modification.
Airsoft guns’ trademarks must be removed where the manufacturer does not have an existing license agreement with the manufacturer of the real firearm. For example, Classic Army has a licensing agreement with Armalite, so the trademarks can stay on imported replicas of Armalite’s weapons. In practice, enforcement is hit or miss.
You might get an “unlicensed” gun through customs with trademarks intact, while a licensed gun might be held in Customs by an uninformed customs agent. House Resolution 607, sponsored in early 2007, would change this if passed, allowing imports to retain trademarks even if there is no agreement between the real firearms manufacturer and the replica manufacturer.
In addition, the similarity between genuine firearms and airsoft replicas is close enough to provoke interaction with local law enforcement personnel if an airsoft gun is carried openly in public. If someone were to, for example, attempt a robbery with an airsoft gun, they would be charged as if the airsoft gun were a real firearm.
New York City requires that all realistic toy or imitation firearms be made of clear or brightly coloured plastics; furthermore, New York City makes possession of any pistol or rifle or similar instrument in which the propelling force is a spring or air, unlawful without a license.
See New York City Administrative Code § 10-131(b) and New York City Administrative Code § 10-131(g)(1)(a)[ The rest of New York State is unaffected by these laws, and there are no state regulations limiting or prohibiting airsoft. Michigan allows the purchase of Airsoft guns.
However, they must have an orange tip on the barrel. Texas allows Airsoft guns to be owned but most cities require that the Airsoft guns be discharged only while outside city limits. Some cities in Illinois consider shipping or distributing airsoft guns illegal. It is officially now not illegal to remove the orange tip of the airsoft gun.
According to New York state law, airsoft guns are classified as firearms, and therefore, must follow state firearm laws regarding possession and purchase. Due to this, “technically”, airsoft is legal in New York. If you are going to play, you must do so on private property.
In Minnesota, It is illegal for a child under the age of 14 to possess an Airsoft gun unless under the supervision of a parent or adult.
It is also illegal for any child under 18 to purchase an Airsoft gun without parental permission. In Saint Paul and Minneapolis, airsoft guns cannot be carried in public unless they either have an orange tip, are clear, or are brightly coloured. Airsoft guns also cannot be carried in public if they have a laser attached.
It is legal to possess Airsoft guns in these cities as long as they are transported in a closed and fastened gun case (in accordance with Minnesota firearm transportation laws) and unloaded. The vast majority of municipalities in Minnesota ban the firing of an Airsoft gun within the city limits. Source
Airsoft Laws Around The World
Airsoft is an immensely popular sport all over the world, but it’s important to be aware of your local laws and regulations before you start playing. Hopefully, this article has been a helpful starting point in your research.