Legal issues in airsoft

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Airsoft is a modern shooting sport. Airsoft guns themselves are legal in many parts of the world, although some countries have specific restrictions such as maximum muzzle energy, against using the trademarks of real firearms and special marking requirements. Some of the information found here is based on what the players on that particular country experience and it may not be the law there.[original research?]

Australia[edit]

Importation of Airsoft guns – regardless of their legal status by State – requires an Australian Customs B709 Importation of Firearms – Police Confirmation and Certification Form.[1] These forms can be obtained from the relevant State's police department, however some States may require that you hold a valid license for the class of firearm you wish to import before the forms will be issued. Airsoft possession is generally not considered a valid reason for obtaining a firearms license.

As a general rule, the following types of Airsoft guns are illegal in all States:

  1. Guns with folding or detachable stocks
  2. Guns capable of fully automatic fire
  3. Guns that outwardly resemble a sub-machine gun or machine pistol

In addition, each State has its own legislation regarding possession and use of Airsoft guns:

New South Wales

Airsoft is regulated under the Firearms Act 1996 that classifies them as firearms which the New South Wales police do not allow any genuine reason for.

Queensland

Airsoft weapons, under current legislation, irrespective of muzzle velocity, cannot be lawfully possessed in Queensland. As an Airsoft firearm cannot be used in Queensland lawfully it cannot be imported into Queensland.[2]

South Australia

Changes to South Australian law (in particular the Firearms Amendment Act 2008) mean that Airsoft guns with a muzzle velocity of less than 175 f/s are considered "regulated imitation firearms", while those guns exceeding this limit are considered firearms. In practice both types fall under the same licensing and storage requirements,[3] as "regulated imitations" are considered de facto firearms by law; furthermore, they are considered to belong to the class of firearm they imitate − for example, a Marushin M1 Carbine would be considered a Class D firearm, as it imitates a semi-automatic center-fire rifle.[4] Regardless of this, South Australian police will refuse to register an Airsoft rifle.

Victoria

Airsoft articles are not permitted in Victoria under the Victorian Legislation and Victoria Police will not issue any authorisation for their importation on the basis that no genuine reason exists to own them, because there is no approved range in Victoria.[5]

Western Australia

Airsoft articles are not permitted in Western Australia and Western Australian Police will not issue any authorisation for their importation.

Northern Territory

only paintball guns are prohibited in the Northern Territory all other Airsoft firearms are legal with the right Firearms Licence

Australian Capital Territory

The ACT is governed by the Australian Federal Police; all Airsoft guns that resemble semi-automatic or automatic military rifles or shotguns adapted for military purpose are considered prohibited weapons, as are "an imitation or replica of any firearm (including an imitation or replica pistol, shortened firearm, machine gun or submachine gun) unless it is of a type approved by the Registrar".[6]

Tasmania

"Due to the nature of the sport of Airsoft (as with Paintball) it is classified as a ‘war game’ which is defined in the Firearms Act 1996 as a simulated military exercise or similar activity in which a firearm is used or carried by a person. Section 119 of the Firearms Act 1996 (TAS) prohibits a person from taking part in, allowing, causing, assisting or advertising or promoting any war games. As a result war games such as paintball and Airsoft are prohibited in Tasmania. It has previously been established that an Airsoft gun would be categorised as an air rifle or air pistol for which a category A (air rifle) or category H (air pistol) firearms licence would be required, however, the Firearms Act does not provide for an appropriate ‘genuine reason’ to possess a firearm for Airsoft activities, therefore an Airsoft firearm would not be able to be registered in Tasmania as the applicant could not provide a satisfactory reason for wanting to own and possess the firearm. In short, the playing of the sport of Airsoft and the possession of Airsoft firearms in Tasmania is currently banned and that position will not change in the near future." - direct quote in response to an emailed inquiry.[7]

Austria[edit]

Airsoft guns and pistols with more than 0.08 joule can only be purchased in firearms or airsoft shops only, and all users have to be at least 18 years old.

Argentina[edit]

In Argentina, airsoft guns and pistols are not regulated, but only legal-age (more than 18-year-old) citizens can buy them.

Armenia[edit]

Airsoft guns with muzzle energy below 3 joules (muzzle velocity 173.2 m/s for 0.20 g projectiles) are legal, not considered weapons and do not require any permission.

Belgium[edit]

In Belgium, weapons that launch a projectile without the use of a combustion/fire are unrestricted, it is stipulated as a free-to-purchase weapon which can be only bought by persons aged 18 years or older mandatory checked by any form of identification, the only exclusions are those on the Forbidden Weapons List. This includes those used for Airsoft and Paintball. However if a weapon is shorter than 60 cm, or has a barrel shorter than 30 cm and shoots 7.5 joules of energy or above (measured 2.5 meters from the muzzle) it is classified as a firearm and needs registration.

Commercial sales/imports/exports may only be done by licensed firearms dealers. Non-commercial sales or owner transfers can be freely done by anyone aged 18 years or older.

In general, all events must take place in private locations. Organizations may host airsoft events under the condition that they are not affiliated with ideological or religious agendas. Also the local authorities such as the mayor's administration and the police need to be notified and their consent has to be given. In the Flemish region and when organizing more than two times per year with maximum four days in a row it is mandatory to have an environment permit, also when organizing in a designated forest area a permission from the regional nature and forest agency is needed. In the Walloon area in general it is sufficient to inform the local authorities.

There is no clear law on how to transport airsoft replicas, but it is commonly accepted among players to transport your replicas as if they were real firearms, as to avoid any chance of hassle with the authorities. This means that the replicas must be covered while transporting them through public domain, in a gun-bag for example. Also when carrying/transporting airsoft replica's a plausible explanation has to be given when asked by law enforcement authorities which will be reviewed and checked on a case-to-case basis. In general, following reasons are accepted: transport home/skirm, transport home/dealer and transport home buyer/home seller.

Also due to strict environmental laws it is mandatory to use bio-degradable BB's.

The use of gun-mounted lasers or night-vision scopes/sights is illegal for civilians, however the use of regular scopes/sights (even illuminated ones) and night-vision –goggles – is not. This is because gun-mounted lasers and night-vision scopes/sights are looked upon as being only useful in military context or for assassination (which is, of course, illegal). Also the possession and using a real silencer is forbidden for the same reasons though a dummy/fake silencer is legal.

Brazil[edit]

Airsoft is a very recent shooting sport in Brazil. In the past, due to lack of regulation, airsoft was usually misinterpreted as a firearm clone or replica. Nowadays, airsoft is legal but there is strong restrictions. Based on the current minutes that have gone public, airsoft is considered a gun subjected to control depending upon certain characteristics: Gas powered airsoft guns should have a special permit for transportation nationwide. Spring guns do not need any transportation permit other than in manufacture, airports or harbors. People under 18 are not allowed to buy airsoft guns and commercial entities/importers are obliged to retain documentation of airsoft buyers for 5 years. An Orange tip is required in order to differentiate it from firearms. There are still strong restrictions to import accessories such as holographic sights, red dots and magazines. Airsoft is also expensive in Brazil, it cost the same as a real firearm in the US, which will make very hard for airsoft to become popular in Brazil.[citation needed]

Bulgaria[edit]

Airsoft is a legal sport in Bulgaria and there are no restrictions placed on the guns apart from a parents' permission for people under 18. As airsoft guns are considered air guns by the Bulgarian law, no documents, licenses or anything else is needed to possess them. There are no restrictions about lasers, flashlights etc. Moreover, there is no need for the end of the barrel to be painted in orange (like in the United States). There are neither restrictions about the power of the air guns/airsoft guns nor about carrying them in public areas.

Shooting in "protected" (quote from the law) areas is forbidden. Protected areas are schools, administrative buildings and other public property as well as public areas.

Canada[edit]

Under the Canadian arms Program, Airsoft guns resembling with near precision an existing make and model of an arm, other than an antique arm, are considered replica arms and therefore are prohibited devices. Coloured,black,Full Metal, miniaturized versions, or models resembling antique arms may be allowed with muzzle velocity between 366-500Fps; therefore being designated as an uncontrolled arm as of 2011 before this you could only purchase black and clear Airsoft Guns. Generally, antique arms are those manufactured before 1898.[8] Air guns with a maximum muzzle velocity of 152.4 m/s (500 f/s) and/or a maximum muzzle energy of 5.7 joules or 4.2 foot-pounds are exempt from licensing, registration, and other requirements; and from penalties for possessing an arm without a valid license or registration certificate. The Criminal Code of Canada requires that reasonable precautions be taken to use, carry, handle, store, transport and ship these devices in a safe and secure manner. Airsoft guns that exceed either of the maximum velocity or muzzle energy are considered arms.[9]

However, the Canada Border Services Agency generally seizes all airsoft guns imported by individuals,[10] only allowing importation to merchants with a Business arms License endorsed for replica arms.[citation needed] Still, some online retailers provide sections for Canadian buyers that nominally meet regulations.[11]

An Airsoft gun is treated just as if it was a real arm when used to commit or attempt a crime.

In Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec, the minimum age to purchase Airsoft is 18. Children under age will be able to use arms. Children under 18 must be supervised by someone over 18.

Chile[edit]

Chile is the first country in the world to recognize Airsoft as a full competitive sport. Therefore, airsoft is legal, but not allowed to minors (under 18 years old).

China[edit]

In the People's Republic of China, despite it is rumored that airsoft is banned, they are actually tightly controlled.[12] According to the Public Security Bureau "Recognized standard of an imitation gun", an imitation gun "with a muzzle energy above 1.8 joule of kinetic energy" or "an appearance so realistic that makes it indistinguishable" in "shape, size and color" is considered as illegal.[13] However, people buy and store them regardless of legal issues. Sales and storage of airsoft guns may also be illegal in Mainland China.[citation needed]

To avoid the government finding airsoft on line, various underground airsoft players often refer to AEG [automatic electric guns] as "electric dog [Dian Gou 電狗].[14]

Croatia[edit]

Airsoft replicas fall into the D category of weapons and to buy one you have to be at least 18 years old. Maximum allowed muzzle velocity for various categories of rifles by Croatian Airsoft Federation are:

- AEG - 400 fps (feet per second) max - Machinegun - 450 fps max - DMR - 500 fps max - Bolt-action - 600 fps max

Czech Republic[edit]

Airsoft guns in Czech Republic belongs to "category D firearms", which are regulated by Czech firearm law. Weapons including ammunition can be purchased, owned and used by every person older than 18 years old. There is no need to have any certificate or permission. Airsoft weapons are prohibited to use on public places where they might threaten other people or damage property. Firearms law prohibit (not only in category D) use of specific gun accessories like night vision or laser. Airsoft guns are limited up to 16 joules, but this is a limitation for all weapons in category D. Carrying any visible firearm in public places is prohibited.

Denmark[edit]

Airsoft guns are mentioned in the Danish "Våbenlov" (arms control legislation). You have to be at least 18 years old to buy, hand over or possess airsoft guns. They may be used on police-approved sites, with a permission slip, at the age of 16. A firearms certificate is not required. All airsoft guns have to be transported concealed in a bag or in the trunk etc.

Egypt[edit]

Airsoft guns are illegal to own or possess in Egypt and they are not sold there, but you could find low quality spring powered guns, also some people interested in the sport are trying to get permission and allow the government of Egypt to let them import and possess airsoft guns.

Estonia[edit]

The law does not mention or recognize airsoft guns in detail, but sets restrictions on public carry of firearm replicas. While the current firearm law would classify airsoft guns as airguns, it also sets restrictions for airguns to not exceed 4.5mm diameter pellets (.177 caliber,) making 6mm BB's de jure illegal. Despite laws being unclear, the sport is practiced widely without any actual issues so far - customs enable import without any limitations, local law enforcement is aware of public sales and organized events, and even the military has acquired airsoft guns for urban and close-quarters combat training.

Finland[edit]

Airsoft guns are not treated as firearms in law, but visible transportation of any replica firearms in public areas is forbidden. All replica firearms must be covered with something, for example, a firearm case, when moving on public area. Land owner's permission is needed to play airsoft in any area.

Minors (under the age of 18) are able to purchase airsoft guns only with written permission from their legal guardians.

France[edit]

Visible transportation of replica firearms in public areas is forbidden. They must be covered with something, for example, a firearm case. Land owner's permission is needed to play airsoft in any area.

Minors (under 18) can only buy airsoft guns which are under 0.08 joules in power. Airsoft guns may only have a power under two joules (464 fps with 0.2g bb's), otherwise they are no longer qualified as airsoft replicas but firearms and owners should follow the French weapons law (dated 2013).

Orange tip is not needed.

Germany[edit]

Airsoft guns under 0.5 joule are considered toy guns and can be sold to all persons above fourteen years of age. Distributors agreed to raise the limit to at least 14 years of age. This has been 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 who are 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 firearms shops and 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 caseless). All airsoft guns with powers over 0.5 joule of energy, need to be semi-automatic only and carry the F-in-a-pentagon and associated markings to be legal in Germany, rendering all other Airsoft guns with more than 0.5 joule of energy illegal. Visitors or persons, who plan to move to Germany can obtain the required markings on existing Airsoft guns from one of the localized seven "Beschussamt" - authorities in Germany. There is a specific procedure for that, including the firearms prior to be converted to semi-auto (if necessary) and to be sent in from abroad only. There is no need for the end of the barrel to be painted in orange.

While the possession and trade of legal airsoft guns is generally and unrestrictedly allowed, the use of Airsoft guns in a game is (at least) hotly debated. That is why some players using guns with more than 0.5 joule muzzle energy leave Germany to play in countries like France, Belgium, Denmark, the Czech Republic or Austria. Players are allowed to carry and fire Airsoft guns on private property only, with specific measures in place to prevent Airsoft fire to leave the perimeter. There is a significantly growing number of privately owned or commercially operated Airsoft skirm sites in Germany (2010). It is strictly prohibited to carry or display Airsoft guns in public, although several exceptions may apply − e.g. film making or at police registered events. Legal Airsoft guns can be carried legally unloaded in locked containers such as a bag or a firearms case.

Target-illuminating devices and lasers must not be attached to guns, but are legal otherwise. For example, the 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 fore grip for mil-spec rail) are prohibited.

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."

Greece[edit]

Airsoft is basically an underground sport in Greece because the law is a little foggy. According to the law, airsoft guns fall in the same general category as air guns, which are not real firearms, and are free to be purchased from specialized shops. However, the purchase and use of airsoft guns is not permitted for people under 18 years old.

It is prohibited to have any replica gun in public sight. This is treated similarly to illegal possession of a real firearm.

The use of lasers, scopes, flashlights or any other pointing devices on any firearm is prohibited by the law.

Hong Kong[edit]

In Hong Kong, airsoft guns are considered toys, as long as they are not able to be fired with a muzzle energy above two joules of kinetic energy, which consider as a firearm and needs registration, otherwise illegal.

Under the Section 13 of Cap 238 Firearms and Ammunition Ordinance of the Hong Kong Law, unrestricted firearms and ammunition requires a license.[15] Those found in possession without a license could be fined HKD$100,000 and imprisonment for up to 14 years.[16]

Indonesia[edit]

In Indonesia, there are no strict rules about airsoft and there is still no consideration by the government as to whether airsoft guns are treated as "toys" or are equal to real guns. However, airsoft were first brought to Indonesia circa 1996−1997. The founders of Indonesian airsoft communities put some restrictions on airsoft games, for example, airsoft players are encouraged not to upgrade their gun above 450 fps or they will be rejected from the community. Moreover, anyone who wants to buy an airsoft gun, must be at least 18 years old and know the regulations and rules about the airsoft gun.

Some events have occurred that are perceived as endangering the continuity of the hobby, such as some robberies in which airsoft replicas were used. Therefore, in order to control its growth, there is a government-authorized club called Perbakin (Indonesian Shooting Club) which is currently appointed by police to accommodate airsoft as a new-born sport. However, this information about Perbakin may be inaccurate, as an anonymous tip informs us that Perbakin do 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 airsoft activities. 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.

In recent developments in the start of 2013, the police and people from the airsoft communities have exchanged words and are now in a negotiation to legalize the sport provided the players make their units (AEGs or GBBRs) distinctive from a real firearm through the use of orange tipped muzzle brakes

India[edit]

In India, Airsoft is completely legal but is not recognised, and is usually referred to as a toy by most people, as paintball is in more demand compared to airsoft.

Ireland[edit]

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 firearm incorporating a barrel from which any projectile can be discharged with such a muzzle energy

The aim of this change was to establish a classification of firearms 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, twelve foot-pounds force (16.2 J) in the UK and so on. The one-joule limit most likely arose from UK case law[citation needed] 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 legal to possess and use within Ireland. No airsoft site in Ireland would allow any player to use an airsoft device in excess of one Joule.

Israel[edit]

Airsoft guns are classified as "dangerous toys" which makes airsoft legal to import, manufacture and sell by licenced retailers only. Due to the fact that this law is not related to criminal acts, thus not being very well enforced, until the year 2010 it was possible to find private retailers who import MPEG level airsoft guns and also AEG level airsoft guns. Currently, purchase of airsoft guns of all levels is possible only through one or two licenced retailers only.

Israeli airsofters have created an airsoft association in an attempt to make airsoft legal − Girit "Girit Airsoft Association in Israel" ("גירית – עמותת איירסופט לישראל") and ASI − Association of Israeli Strikeball (עמותת סטרייקבול ישראלית). 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 GIRIT association website 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 March 2007.

As of Jul 2010, the Israeli airsoft associations had finished negotiations with the Israeli government. Since then, every association (or Tacticball Club Member) can carry airsoft gear (guns, parts, etc.) at home. Also transportation and carrying of airsoft guns may be done only if a tip of the barrel painted in red or orange color.

Italy[edit]

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 one 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. 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).

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.

Usage and open carriage of airsoft guns in public places is forbidden. You can play on 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 six to 48 hours) and having alerted the local police command to avoid alarmed citizens calling for emergency.

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.

Japan[edit]

In Japan, airsoft guns are legal, but may not shoot with a muzzle energy above 1.00 joules. And for adolescences, 0.135 joules.

Legal requirements are set on airsoft model manufacturers to prevent any possibility of a replica firearms 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 firearm 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 firearm 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.[citation needed]

Kuwait[edit]

In Kuwait airsoft guns are classified as toys and can be bought under 18 years of age. However, most stores that sell airsoft guns are very rare to include anything beyond spring. Most store-bought airsoft guns are usually made with plastic, have the FPS (feet per second) of 100−250 and have a spring mechanism. Airsoft is also an unorganized sport, along with paint-balling, although official places do have official airsoft and paint-ball arenas. Along with paint-balling, airsoft is catorigized as a common item most people have in Kuwait and is practiced by mainly teenagers of 13−17. Thus, airsoft is legal, and is considered a toy.

Lithuania[edit]

Registration of any sort is not required for airsoft firearms. However, they are only available for purchase to people over 18 years. Airsoft players have established unofficial set of rules, which regulates the behavior of players belonging to the community.

Macau[edit]

Airsoft guns are legal but may not be fired with a muzzle energy above 2 joules of kinetic energy.

Malaysia[edit]

Malaysia, Airsoft Status: Not legal, not to be played openly.

Airsoft guns are classified as real weapon counterparts which makes Airsoft in Malaysia *ILLEGAL to own, import, manufacture and sell without a licence/permit, which is very hard/almost impossible and is expensive to get.

Currently only a few companies and sports associations have the permit/license to import airsoft weapons. Most are security services related companies and a few sports association.

Several companies and several institutions as well as sports associations have registered to use airsoft, especially with *permission from the Malaysia Ministry of Sports; as well as from the Police, or Ministry of Internal Affairs, the latter two are responsible for security.

Still, the status of Airsoft is that it is not legal to play openly without *permits/licences.

Police frequently arrest Airsoft users and seize Airsoft items and accessories, then charge the arrested persons with *illegal possession of firearms and paraphernalia. This usually involves *jail time and fines. The Airsoft items are invariably seized and destroyed.

Several licensed companies and permitted sports associations are currently active in educating the public on Airsoft safety through organized events. Membership is stable, with over 40 teams nationally of about 2000 members.

Most of the players (80%) are not involved with officially sanctioned games (20%). Most (80%) are privately organized games.

Not a single private institution/company/association currently controls Airsoft, but most independents entities are registered either with the Ministry of Sports, Police, or Interior Ministry.

Ref.: *Firearms Act, Malaysia, 1960. *Enhanced Penalties, 1970

Malta[edit]

Airsoft guns were legally introduced in 1985. These have been classified under the category of air gun. In this classification one find air rifles (any power limit), airsoft guns and paintball guns. To own and purchase any of these guns one must have a Target Shooter B license and be member of a registered and licensed club.

Recently 2013 there is an amendment to the current regulation for airsoft and paintball gun which are (non lethal guns). It is not required any more to have a Target shooter license B to purchase, use and own airsoft or paintball, but you must have a valid membership with a legally registered club. All non resisted users and owners who are caught in possession of airsoft without the legal requirements will be considered to have an illegal gun graded as a fire arm with respect to law and court decisions.

MAAC ( Malta Allied Airgunners Club).

(mgc/amt)[citation needed]

Netherlands[edit]

The law places full restrictions on airsoft firearms rendering possession illegal. When one looks at the Dutch law on this subject, airsoft is not explicitly mentioned and the characteristics of airsoft firearms would place the firearms in Category IV 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 firearms. The reason given for this is that the firearms look so realistic that they can be used for intimidation and police might react with too much force when they encounter an airsoft firearm (use force like it is a real gun). Therefore, airsoft firearms that are 1:1 replicas and/or realistic have been placed in Category I (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, a lot of Dutch players travel to Belgium instead.

Recently though, a Dutch airsoft association called NABV (Nederlandse Airsoft Belangen Vereniging/Dutch Airsoft Interests Association) has managed to get a confirmation from the Dutch Ministry of Justice that the STAR Ika Zuchi AEG is not considered a replica that can be used for intimidation, making it one of the first airsoft guns which can legally sold and owned in the Netherlands.[citation needed] Unlike most Airsoft guns, it is not a realistic weapon, but an adult sized science fiction style rifle.

On January 25 of 2012 the Minister of the Justice Department (Ministerie van Justitie) has sent a proposal to the Dutch Parliament (tweede kamer der staten generaal) in which he proposes to end the illegality of airsoft firearms, by placing them explicitly in Category IV, with some provisions due to their realistic nature. These provisions include - but are not limited to - registration, and storage in a real firearms locker at home, as is the norm for real firearms.[17]

On the 20th of December, 2012, the NABV announced the completion of the first great airsoft journey, and that starting January 15, 2013, airsoft would be legally regulated in The Netherlands.[18] The NABV is slowly releasing more information about the new rules, and the most important one is that one needs a mandatory membership of the NABV which can be acquired only with a certificate of good conduct equal to that required for sport shooters.

New Zealand[edit]

Air-powered firearms 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 (Direct supervision requires that the license holder be able to take control of the firearm at all times, so they must remain within arms reach)

In New Zealand Airsoft guns are allowed to be fired in single shot, semi-automatic firing modes and full auto. Airsoft weapons capable of firing in automatic mode are illegal to import and fire.

It is illegal to use these firearms in any manner that may endanger or intimidate members of the public (pointing, brandishing etc.) except where there is reasonable cause such as an airsoft game.

Police, New Zealand, Airguns Factsheet, retrieved 2007-07-24 

As of 18 December 2013 airsoft guns are now allowed to have and use full auto mode. However, tighter restrictions on importation of airsoft rifles mean that in order to import an airsoft gun you must be a member of a club, facility or store.

Norway[edit]

The Arms control legislation (Våpenforskrift) requires that one has to be at least 18 years old to buy, but can be used and owned by younger if they are wearing protection and approved by parents. A firearms certificate is not required.

Using an airsoft firearm while committing a crime receives the same punishment as the one you would receive for using a real weapon. The police are allowed to treat you as if you were carrying a real gun, as many airsoft rifles are difficult to tell from their real counterparts.

One is also required to carry firearms inside a bag, or some other kind of container to conceal the firearm from the public. In addition there are some restrictions on the usage of uniforms in public, airsoft explosives and smoke grenades during gameplay.

Philippines[edit]

Airsoft in the Philippines is a sport. It is embraced by all ages and the sport is acknowledged by the public. In order to play the sport, airsoft guns must be serialized and registered.[19] Players must also sequester a permit to legally transport their guns to authorized game sites.[19] The permit to transport is restricted to the Luzon and Visayas regions only and should be renewed yearly. Unregistered airsoft guns may be confiscated. Orange/red-tipped paint must also be used to indicate that the said air gun is not a real gun.[20]

Remaining Legal Issues[edit]

Letter of Instruction 1264, a Presidential Directive, signed by former President Ferdinand Marcos in 1982, bans the import, sale and public display of gun replicas.[20] Also under Philippine Law, a memo from the Chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) amending the PNP rules and regulations cannot overrule, repeal or amend a Presidential directive. Only the legislative body, the Supreme Court or the current President can do so.

The Philippine National Police has been given the authority to classify what constitutes a gun replica and airsoft guns were deemed different from replicas, therefore the common legal interpretation is that there may be no need to repeal LOI 1264 in order to achieve full legalization of airsoft in the Philippines.[20]

Despite the differences in legal interpretation, traders and players are able to conduct business and play freely as long as they comply with the requirements of the Philippine National Police.

Philippine election gun ban[edit]

Every month and year of the Philippine elections and months leading up to it now has the strict firearm ban which was first imposed in 2010 by the Philippine Commission on Elections "(COMELEC)" during preparations. The law states that it will be always done in every December of the present year before the upcoming election year if it is a presidential election or on January of the election year if it is a midterm election. The ban terminates after the election month on a certain day.

The ban places airsoft guns in the list of banned firearms aside from gun replicas and real firearms. It classifies that no person is permitted to carry firearms in public except for security officers, police officers and military personnel on duty.

The first known imposition of the ban was during the preparations for the May 10 elections in 2010. The rule imposition started from December 2009 until May 2010. There had been some reports of arrests of civilians as well as some off duty police officers and military personnel who were caught carrying a firearm in public. Majority of these incidents happened in Metro Manila and some or a few were reported in provinces.

Poland[edit]

Airsoftguns as well as the Airsoft are legal in Poland. The law does not distinguish Airsoftguns from Airguns, thus the only requirement is that they cannot exceed 17J of energy, which would classify them as pneumatic weapons.

There are informal rules called "Prawo ASG" ("The ASG Law") which are created by the players for the players. They define the "good way" of playing Airsoft (safety first). Since they are not official, these rules do not have to be obeyed by the whole Airsoft community in Poland.

Portugal[edit]

With the new revision of the "Guns and Ammunition Act" (Lei 17/2009), airsoft guns are no longer considered as such. Currently, the formal definition of an airsoft gun is Reprodução de Arma de fogo para praticas recreativas (in English: Recreational Firearm Replica). However, in order to be characterized as a Recreational Firearm Replica, their muzzle energy must not exceed 1,3 J (equivalent to a muzzle velocity of 375 fps with 0,2g BBs). The minimum age to purchase and use this replicas is 18 years old, however, a 16 years old may be allowed to buy and use them with a written parental consent. One must be a member of an APD - Associação de Promoção ao Desporto (in English: Sport Promotion Association).

Recognition of this APD is made by the IDP - Instituto do Desporto de Portugal (in English: Portuguese Sports Institute) as it represents the State. The Guns and Ammunition Act also states that after being approved by the IDP, the APD must be enlisted as such by the Portuguese law enforcement authority, the police called PSP - Polícia de Segurança Pública. There are several APDs for airsoft in Portugal, CAM - Clube de Airsoft da Maia,[21] ALA (FPA) Associação Lusitana de Airsoft,[22] APA - Associação Portuguesa de Airsoft,[23] ANA - Associação Nacional de Airsoft,[24] APMA - Associação Portuguesa de Milsim e Airsoft,[25] ADAPT - Associação Desportiva de Airsoft Português and AACP - Associação Airsoft Costa de Prata.[26] In addition, replicas have to be painted either in fluorescent yellow or fluorescent red and in compliance with the following criteria:

  • Long guns (≥ 60 cm)- 10 cm from the barrel tip and 100% of the stock.
  • Short guns (≤ 60 cm)- 5 cm from the barrel tip and 100% of the grip.

Romania[edit]

Law nr. 295 from 2004 [27] (Regimul Armelor şi Muniţiilor) regulates all use of firearms and associated ammunition. The law is quite unclear (in what concerns airsoft firearms) as to whether this kind of firearm classifies as "non-lethal weapon" or "toy." The law regulates the use of air-powered firearms (e.g. sport/competition use that use a metal projectile) under "non-lethal" category and solely requires that you are at least 18 years old and register your firearm 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 firearm (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.

Furthermore, 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.

A new addition to the law 295/2004 was made at 17 February 2008 called OUG 28/2008 which add further restrictions to the forms and regulations.

Since 23 February 2010, in Romania, based on an airsoft competition and its regulation, airsoft is officially a sport, not only a welfare activity.

Since June 2011, Airsoft replicas have been inserted in firearms and associated ammunition law as non-lethal device which does not require any authorization to buy/sell/own, used for recreational purposes - "E" class in weapons classification. The use of metal projectiles is prohibited by law.

Russia[edit]

Airsoft guns with muzzle energy below 3 joules (muzzle velocity 173.2 m/s for 0.20 g projectiles) are legal, not considered weapons and do not require any permission.

Serbia[edit]

At this moment, law consider Airsoft replicas as toys and do not require permission. [28]

Slovakia[edit]

Airsoft guns have a status similar to the Czech Republic and Slovenia, where they are considered to be firearms. All firearms are governed by law 190/2003. Here, airsoft guns fit into firearm class D (§7b) and 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. The owner of a gun is required by law to secure the firearm when not using it.

Slovenia[edit]

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 one 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 firearm in the Firearms control legislation of Slovenia. Additionally Air Soft Clubs and National Shooters Association in Slovenia recommends that airsoft gun velocities should not be above 100 m/s (one joule).

Singapore[edit]

In Singapore, airsoft guns used to be legal with no age limit to purchase them. One year after the sport was introduced in the country it was banned due to safety issues. A petition was created hoping to legalize airsoft again but it closed because the petition was not convincing as it was a free and user-based petition. Currently, only a few clubs in Singapore have managed to set up IPSC shooting 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 home.

Spain[edit]

  • Last Regulation in Spain dates January 5, 2013, and guns are now included as 4th category weapons. This update to the Law changes the name of the guns to "Armas Ludico-Deportivas" (Ludic Sport Guns).

Players have now to comply with their Town Halls' requirements, which differ from town to town. Simplest registry takes only to fulfill the 4th category class A (semi and auto guns) or B (manual loaders) card with the manufacturer's name, model, serial number (if available) and caliber then have it stamped by the town's authorities.

Some cities/towns however require players to provide a (clear) Criminal Record Certificate, pass a psychological exam (usual for firearms), have the guns serialized by a certified armorer and have them inspected to check that the serial numbers match the declared ones. Towns that have not yet decided how to proceed with the registry leave the players in a grey area, because they cannot obtain the card anywhere else but the town you live in.

It is legal to buy, possess and sell airsoft replicas and accessories. Custom duties for importing from outside the Schengen area apply normally.

Sweden[edit]

One must be at least 18 years old to buy and use airsoft firearms. Minors (under the age of 18) can practice targetshooting under supervision by the legal guardian of the minor. 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 four meters (from the muzzle) must be less than ten joules. If it is semi or fully automatic, the impact energy must be less than three joules.

To import a weapon using propellant other than Air or CO2 you require a permit obtained from the Police, which is valid for the import of a specific weapon of a specific amount.

Switzerland[edit]

In Switzerland, airsoft guns used to be unregulated and were treated as toys. As of 12 December 2008, the law was changed to classify them as weapons[29] (note: not as firearms).

Airsoft firearms may not be sold to (or possessed by) persons who are under 18 who have a criminal conviction. Additionally, airsoft firearms may not be sold to individuals from Albania, Algeria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey or Sri Lanka.[30]

The import of airsoft firearms is restricted to companies and individuals who hold weapons import licences. Private individuals can apply for a permit to import up to three firearms which is valid for six months.

Commercial sales are legal providing the purchaser is not prohibited under any of the above restrictions. For private sales to take place, there must be a written contract between both parties. Both parties are required to retain the contract for a period of ten years.

As they contain no propellant, there is no restriction on the purchase or import of airsoft BBs.

It is illegal to carry any airsoft firearms in a public place, however it is permissible to transport them directly between a player's home and an event site.

Further information can be found at the Swiss Airsoft Federation website. [2]

Thailand[edit]

In Thailand, many stores will sell you Airsoft guns and supplies, but the law is a bit vague. Essentially as it stand now, the law is as follows: Paintball guns, BB guns and airsoft guns are not considered firearms, so it is legal to possess them without having a permit or registering them. However the owner must comply with the following conditions: • The gun has not been modified to use CO2. • Only plastic bullets are used – no metal bullets or marbles may be fired. • When carrying the gun outside of the owner’s property it must be packed in a safe case or box. It is not allowed to be carried in shirt or trouser pockets, nor can it be left out in the open. • The gun can’t be used to commit a crime or torture animals. The gun becomes illegal if any of these rules are broken. This information was gathered from "Thailand Airsoft"[31] which is active in the Thai community to educate officials on their own laws.

United Kingdom[edit]

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, prohibiting the possession of any firearms replica in a public place without good cause (to be concealed in a gun case or container only not to be left in view of public at any time). The prohibition of self-contained gas cartridge firearms can arguably apply to Moscarts and BB-Shower grenade systems, although it is intended to ban the sale of 'brocock' cartridge revolvers. However, a formal case precedent has yet to be set.

According to Section 36 of the VCRA (Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006), which came into effect on 1 October 2007, RIF's (Realistic Imitation Firearms) may not be sold, imported or manufactured.[32] Unrealistic imitation firearms (IF's) must have their principle colour as transparent, bright red, bright orange, bright yellow, bright blue, bright green, bright pink or bright purple or have dimensions of no more than a height of 38 millimetres and a length of 70 millimetres (as defined in the Home Office regulations for the VCRA). Defences to the act are available for the following:

  • a museum or gallery
  • theatrical performances and rehearsals of such performances
  • the production of films and television programmes
  • the organisation and holding of historical re-enactments
  • crown servants.[33]

The notes for the VCRA state the following: "The regulations provide for two new defences. The first is for the organisation and holding of airsoft skirmishing. This is defined by reference to "permitted activities" and the defence applies only where third party liability insurance is held in respect of the activities." and "The defence for airsoft skirmishing can apply to individual players because their purchase of realistic imitation firearms for this purpose is considered part of the "holding" of a skirmishing event."[34]

The airsoft defence is based on whether or not a person is a skirmisher. One of the measures put in place by retailers was the forming of a centrally recorded and maintained database. This system is managed by the United Kingdom Airsoft Retailers Association or UKARA. UKARA shares the database of registered skirmishers with the member retailers allowing quick and easy verification that the purchaser is allowed to buy a RIF under the VCRA skirmisher defence. To qualify for the UKARA database a person must be a regular skirmisher (i.e. skirmish three or more times in no less than two months, and typically at one site) in order to be registered and the airsoft site they register/skirmish at must hold public Public Liability Insurance.

As long as a person can prove that they are an airsoft skirmisher, they may purchase RIFs. This can be done successfully by either joining the UKARA database (although this is not a legal requirement, and as such, is not recognised by the Home Office as having any legal authority over airsoft skirmishers) or other means, such as ordering a RIF from outside the UK and ensuring the parcel is marked in such a fashion that if Customs were to stop the parcel they can check the purchaser's validity to purchase said RIF.

Airsoft is not prohibited to persons under the age of 18, nor is owning a RIF, although the only way they are able to obtain a RIF or IF is by being given the item as a gift or by having parental consent. If someone under the age of 18 attempts to purchase an airsoft weapon, they are committing a crime and it may result in a fine.[35]

United States[edit]

Under Federal Law, airsoft guns are not classified as firearms and are legal for all ages. Persons under the age of 18 are not permitted to buy airsoft guns over the counter in stores. However, a person of any age may use one. This is also the case for 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 making airsoft subject to applicable laws. For example, airsoft guns within the state of California can only be bought by a person above the age of 18. However, no laws indicate an age requirement to sell airsoft guns. A gun has to have an orange tip during shipping.[citation needed]

Although airsoft guns in the United States are generally sold with a 6mm (0.24in.) or longer orange tip on the barrel in order to distinguish them from real firearms, this is not required by federal law. Manufacturers and importers may cite Title 15 of the Code of Federal Regulations on foreign commerce and trade, which stipulate that "no person shall manufacture, enter into commerce, ship, transport, or receive any toy, look-alike, or imitation firearm" without approved markings; these may include an orange tip, orange barrel plug, brightly colored exterior of the whole toy, or transparent construction (part 272.2, formerly part 1150.2). However, section 272.1 (formerly 1150.1) clearly indicates that these restrictions shall not apply to "traditional b-b, paint-ball, or pellet-firing air guns that expel a projectile through the force of compressed air, compressed gas or mechanical spring action, or any combination thereof." [36] This language clearly exempts airsoft guns from these requirements, placing them in the same category as bb-guns, pellet, air, and paintball, none of which are conventionally sold or used with an orange tip, and many of which bear as much resemblance to real firearms as airsoft guns do.

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 Sublicensing agreement with ActionSportGames® A/S (ASG) which holds the worldwide rights for ArmaLite and others, 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. In early 2007, a House resolution to allow imports to retain trademarks, even without agreement between the real firearms manufacturer and the replica manufacturer, was unsuccessful.[37]

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.[38]

New York City requires that all realistic toy or imitation firearms be made of clear or brightly colored 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).[39]

Michigan allows the purchase of airsoft guns. However, they must have an orange tip on the barrel.[citation needed]

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 legal to remove the orange tip of the airsoft gun.[citation needed]

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 16 to purchase an airsoft gun without parental advisory involvement. In Saint Paul and Minneapolis, airsoft guns cannot be carried in public unless they either have an orange tip, or the airsoft guns are clear or brightly colored. 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 (Excluding Duluth, Saint Cloud and Rochester) in Minnesota ban the firing of an airsoft gun within the city limits.

Arkansas has passed a bill which went into effect in January 2010[40] which mirrors the federal law on airsoft guns in that it bans the sale or transport airsoft guns without orange tips, a transparent/translucent body, or colored other than black/brown/blue/silver/metallic. Also, those guns that are clear are still ok to sell or transport. The bill bans "imitation firearms", but has the following to say about the definition of "imitation firearms" in section 2B:

"Imitation firearm" does not include:

(1) A nonfiring, collector replica of an antique firearm developed before 1898; (2) Traditional BB, paintball, or pellet-firing air guns that expel a projectile through the force of air pressure; or (3) A device: (A) For which an orange solid plug or marking is permanently affixed to the muzzle end of the barrel for a depth of not more than six millimeters (6 mm); (B) For which the entire exterior surface is predominately colored other than black, brown, blue, silver, or metallic; or

(C) That is constructed of transparent or translucent materials that permit unmistakable observation of the complete contents of the device.

Therefore, the bill bans neither: imitation firearms (including airsoft guns) that are predominately colored something other than black, brown, blue, silver or metallic; nor imitation firearms that are built of predominately transparent or translucent materials, allowing anyone to determine the contents of the firearm; nor those which have bright orange tips which indicate that they are a "toy" and not a real firearm.

New Jersey

       New Jersey law clearly states that BB and airsoft guns are considered real firearms, therefore making them subject to the same laws as actual firearms.This means that you have to have a license to possess one and you must be over 18 to operate and/or own an airsoft/pellet gun. If you are not over 18 and/or do not have a license and are caught with a airsoft/pellet gun, you will get arrested and charges may include: unlawful possession of a weapon, (3rd degree felony). Punishments may include: 3rd degree crime, punishable by three to five years imprisonment, a fine of up to $15,000, or both (can be 2nd degree crime if gun meets certain specifications)

N.J. Stat. Ann. §§ 2C:39-5, 2C:58-4

References[edit]

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  34. ^ [1][dead link]
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  37. ^ GovTrack.us. H.R. 607--110th Congress (2007): Military Toy Replica Act, GovTrack.us (database of federal legislation) http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h110-607 (accessed Mar 28, 2007)
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  39. ^ Excerpt from NYC Administrative Code, specific sections pertaining to firearms and airguns
  40. ^ Act 1495, arkleg.state.ar.us (2009)

http://scag.darkbb.com/front-page-f9/pnp-circular-no-11-t222.htm

See also[edit]