Airsoft replica’s are mandated by the U.S. federal law and are considered safe. But the US has more complex gun laws which vary by State and focus primarily on possession, importation and distinction from real firearms.
This article will discuss the current US Federal Airsoft Gun Law and what it means for you in a practical manner.
Characteristics Of An Airsoft Gun
The comparison of Airsoft guns with real firearms is somewhat over the top. Despite the look-alike to a real firearm, it is just a game playing device intend to simulate real combat. Airsoft guns are actually best compared to BB guns or pallet guns because they don’t shoot real bullets with a relatively slower speed than real firearms.
Airsoft guns usually fire pallets via spring, gas or high pressure air powered systems with automatic or semi-automatic replica’s.
On this site we intend to call these Airsoft devices “Airsoft guns” but actually you should call these devices Airsoft Replica’s.
What The Law States
Gun laws of the United States are found in a number of federal statutes. These laws regulate the manufacture, trade, possession, transfer, record keeping, transport and destruction of firearms, ammunition and firearms accessories.
All the individual U.S. States have their own laws that regulate firearms. The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution regulates the right to keep and bear arms.
The definition of a firearm by the Federal Government: The term firearm is defined in the Gun Control Act of 1968, 18 U.S.C. Section 921(a)(3):
The term firearm means (A) any weapon (including a starter gun) which will or is designated to or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive; (B) the frame or receiver of any such weapon; (C) any firearm muffler or firearm silencer; (D) any destructive device. Such term does not include an antique firearm. (1)
So based on these facts, an Airsoft replica’s does not constitute a firearm under the Federal Law. This is mainly due to the fact that they used compressed air. However, Section B stated that the frame or receiver from an actual firearm may be used to manufacture an Airsoft replica’s. Despite the fact that it doesn’t fires a projectile by an explosive, an Airsoft replica could be classified as an real firearm if it is manufactured with the frames or receivers of an actual firearm. I doubt if that is ever happened…
The second amendment to the United States Constitution protects the right op the people to keep and bear arms. The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that the right belongs to individuals. (2) However, this right is not unlimited and does not prohibit all the regulation as local governments vary based on state.
A primary concern with Airsoft replica’s is the comparison with real firearms. Therefore Airsoft gun laws has been implemented to avoid confusion. For instance if someone commits a robbery with an Airsoft replica he could claim his innocence based on the fact that there was no real danger as he was using a toy…
To avoid these disastrous consequences, someone who is using an Airsoft replica to commit a crime is treated as if he was using an actual firearm.
In 2005 a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed a tremendous number of non powder (air guns / Airsoft guns) injuries. Most of them were 20 or under. Although, that study was not limited to Airsoft guns, many hospitals have reported a rise in Airsoft related eye injuries.
Because of these injuries – caused by Airsoft Replica’s with a capacity to shoot BB’s at a velocity of several hundred feet per second (FPS) – , you should always be using face protection. In addition to that, speed regulations can solve a lot of bad injuries.
A second concern is the ownership and use of an Airsoft gun. In several situations the police thought that someone was carrying a real gun and therefore shot that person. Especially for young, not mature people it’s hard to realize or even image the risk of simply holding a “toy”(in public).
Federal Government Restrictions
Removing the orange tip
Every imported or transported Airsoft gun should have an 6mm blaze orange tip on the muzzle of the gun. Is it allowed to remove the orange tip? Well, that depends on the local state laws. As far as I know did the law not mention whether it is allowed or not to remove the orange tip.
It seems to be allowed to remove the orange tip but know that many retailers of Airsoft guns have disclaimers to prevent them from being charged. These disclaimers stated that it is illegal to remove the orange tip. It also stated that that the gun is sold with an orange tip.
Purchasing and carrying an Airsoft replica
Only individuals of 18 years of age and above can purchase an Airsoft replica. However, the use of an Airsoft replica is not restricted on any age. This is because an Airsoft replica is not classified as a firearm. Some states or countries have further restrictions on muzzle velocity, use of trademarks and look.
Always be careful when carrying or transport your Airsoft Replica. Most countries / states have restrictions and regulations for transporting and carrying a gun. In short: do not carry an Airsoft replica in public and always carry or transport your Airsoft replica an a locked case. That way there couldn’t be any confusion whether or not you are carrying an actual firearm. If you don’t have an bag or case I recommend to order one soon before you get trouble with police. Order one here
Possession of an Airsoft replica
The right to keep an firearm is protected by the second amendment. Although an Airsoft gun is not classified as a firearm it’s good to have a reference point on what is allowed and what not. The right to
- own a gun for personal use in context of militia service(3)
- to bear arms according to state and local gun control laws(4)
is questionable and differs from state to state but for Airsoft guns allowed as it is not a real firearm. To carry your replica in public is never a good idea. Don’t do that!
In some countries you need a license on order to possess an Airsoft gun. Check the Airsoft laws by state.
If you are planning to buy an Airsoft weapon first check local laws governing the use and ownership. Unfortunately I cannot be more clear than that as different laws applies different states. From a practical view you should be handling your Airsoft replica as a real firearm. Reckless handling can lead to various criminal consequences. Therefore don’t use your Airsoft replica in public areas. Only use them in enclosed areas; Airsoft fields en CQB environments.
Important: laws often change. Be aware that the information could have changed d.d may 14, 2018
(2) Case 1:11 -cv-10644-DPW Document 31 #124: Memorandum and Order 30 march 2012
(3) (Harvard law review vol. 122 pp 141-142 (2008)