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Official laws about Airsoft

Most of the information below are taken legally from the Wikipedia encyclopedia (source). You can full list of authors here.

USA
  • Under Federal Law:
    • Airsoft guns are not classified as firearms and are legal under federal law, as well as the laws in each state. However, in some major cities and population centers the definition of a firearm within their respected ordinances includes propulsion by spring or compressed air, thus subject to applicable laws.
    • A 6 mm minimum orange tip must be present on the barrel end of the airsoft gun to identify it as such for any commercial sales. [1] 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 fire arm. 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.[2]
    • 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.[citation needed]
  • New York City requires that all realistic toy or imitation firearm be made of clear or brightly colored plastics; furthermore, New York City makes possession of any air pistol or air 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)[3]. The rest of New York State is unaffected by these laws, and there are no state regulations limiting or prohibiting airsoft.
  • Michigan restricts the purchase of these guns so that they may only be purchased from a licensed retailer. Black Market retailers are also a source for purchasing airsoft guns in Michigan.
  • Texas allows Airsoft guns to be owned but most cities require that the Airsoft guns be discharged only while outside city limits.
  • Illinois considers shipping or distributing airsoft guns illegal.

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United Kingdom 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 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 [2]. 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 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 (5th 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 2006, 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, regardless of membership status. These usually take the form of "Two-Tone" guns - normal Airsoft guns, that have been painted in bright colours in order to mark them out clearly as Imitation Firearms and not Realistic Imitation Firearms.

Germany
  • 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 least 14 years of age. [This is realized and the limit is thus 14 years]
  • All airsoft guns between 0.5 joule and 7.5 joule must be bolt-action or semiautomatic 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 joule are allowed only in weapon shops.
  • Guns must be marked with the trader's weapon abbreviation and a F-in-a-pentagon mark as well as the airsoft gun caliber (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.
  • More information can be found at Airsoft FAQ on laws in Germany, which covers more complicated issues like the "Kleiner Waffenschein", issues with the OWiG §118 in Bavaria and a definition of the term "combat shooting".

Hong Kong
  • In Hong Kong, all airsoft guns are legal but 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.

France
  • Visible transportation of replica firearms in public areas is forbidden. All replica firearms must be covered with something, for example, a weapon case.
  • Land owner's permission is needed to play airsoft in any area.
  • Minors (under the age of 18) can only buy or use airsoft gun which are under 0.07 joules in power.
  • Airsoft gun may only have a power under 2 joules , otherwise they are considered to be a weapon and must be registered.

Canada From the Canada Firearms Centre's fact sheet on airguns: [1]
  • 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.
  • Above 500 ft/s (150 m/s) and 5.7 joules, air guns are considered controlled firearms and must be registered.
  • 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.
  • Airsoft guns have to be under 500 feet per second and have a clear outer body if a person wishes to attempt to import one from outside of Canada.

Ireland The status of Airsoft in Ireland was changed after the 2006 Criminal Justice Act, which amended the previous Firearms Acts from 1925, 1963, 1972 and 1990. Where once authorization or a license was required for all devices which fired a projectile from a barrel, The law now defines a firearm as (amongst other things); 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, thus bringing Ireland into 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.



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