With more than 393 million firearms registered to civilians, meaning there are in fact more guns in the United States than there are people (in fact, by recent statistics, there would be a surplus of over 70 million if each man, woman and child were given a firearm), America has some of the most relaxed firearms laws in the world. Due to this, it’s probably safe to say that Americans are exposed to more guns per capita than any other place in the world. With that in mind, you would presume that owning airsoft rifles and airsoft pistols was as simple as walking into a shop and buying one – especially as there are certain states where buying a real firearm is that simple. If you do follow that train of thought though, you’d be incorrect.
Due to America’s exposure to real firearms, airsoft weapons almost carry a stigma of being toys. This is especially an issue amongst a younger demographic, who think that because an airsoft weapon is a fake gun, they can use and carry it with them without any repercussions. However, there have been a growing number of cases in which police officers have shot, and at times killed individuals who have been equipped with an airsoft weapon. Due to this, it is important to not only be aware of the potential pitfalls regarding carrying an airsoft weapon, but also to familiarise yourself with the laws that govern their use.
Though America is comprised of 52 states, all of which can have their own laws in regard to the ownership and use of an airsoft weapon, there are federal laws which apply regardless of the state you reside in.
- All airsoft weapons must be equipped with a blaze orange 6mm tip. This law is in place so an airsoft weapon can be distinguished at a glance as an airsoft weapon as opposed to a real firearm.
- Airsoft weapons, if transported via public means, must be stored in a suitable bag or case for the duration of the trip. However, it is advised not to use public transport methods if possible.
- To purchase an airsoft weapon, you must be over the age of 18.
- Before pointing an airsoft weapon at someone, you must have their consent. Obviously this is relaxed when taking part in airsoft events, as those taking part give their consent by taking part themselves.
If any of these federal laws are broken, the authorities have a number of methods to explore when either making an arrest or charging you with a crime. Furthermore, if any airsoft weapon is used to commit a crime, the individual committing said crime will be treated as someone who used an actual firearm in a court of law, with both fines and prison sentences often being the outcome.
America is a large country, and due to this, a number of states have different laws in regard to the purchase, use and transportation of airsoft weapons. While federal laws apply to all 52 states within America, state laws apply simply to that state. With that in mind, it is important to brush up on your states’ laws in regard to airsoft weapons.
- Arkansas – Owning or using an airsoft gun has been deemed illegal in this state
- California – Airsoft laws in the state of California are defined by Senate Bill No.199 that states:
- “Existing law prohibits a person from furnishing a BB device, defined to include a spot marker gun, to a minor without the permission of the minor’s parent or guardian, and prohibits selling a BB device to a minor. Violation of either of these prohibitions is a crime. Existing law defines a BB device as any instrument that expels a projectile, such as a BB or pellet, that does not exceed 6 millimeters in caliber.”.
- Colorado – Students who bring an airsoft gun to school will receive a mandatory expulsion. There are also other laws and regulations that govern where you can use your airsoft gun.
- Illinois – As of July 13, 2012, air guns are no longer considered firearms. To receive this status the gun must be the equivalent of a big bore air gun that uses .18 caliber or higher ammunition with an FPS of 700 or more.
- Maine – Maine Law states that selling an airsoft weapon to a child younger than the age of sixteen is deemed illegal.
- Massachusetts – Though only those who are eighteen years or older can legally purchase an airsoft gun, those who are younger can play with the gun if they’re supervised by an adult.
- Michigan – Orange flash hiders are mandatory and you must be eighteen or older to legally own an airsoft gun. Large caliber and high-power air pistols are considered to be firearms by state law.
- Minnesota – Children 14 or older cannot be sold an airsoft gun without the permission of a parent or legal guardian. You cannot carry an airsoft gun in a threatening manner in a public area. Storing or carrying an airsoft gun onto a school campus is illegal.
- Missouri – Municipal laws enforce when and where an airsoft gun can be fired. The local police department will have more information on the subject.
- New York City – You must be sixteen or older to be in possession of an airsoft weapon. Though not outright illegal, brandishing an airsoft gun in New York City is greatly frowned upon and may lead to legal repercussions (depending on the situation). All replica firearms must be coated with tape and marked with bright colors.
- North Dakota – airsoft and air guns are considered to be dangerous weapons. Thus, all laws that govern firearms and other dangerous weapons also apply to airsoft and air guns.
- Texas – You can legally purchase and own airsoft guns, but you can only fire them outside the limits of major cities. Each municipality may be different when it comes to where you can fire your weapon.
- Washington DC – It’s illegal to fire a firearm in a public area or in any setting where a person could be injured. Air pistols that use compressed gas or any other form of gas are forbidden from school buses and school premises. Washington DC gun laws state that carrying replica firearms are illegal.
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