Legal issues in airsoft
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Airsoft is considered to be a modern shooting sport. Airsoft guns themselves are legal in many parts of the world, although some countries, states, counties, and cities have specific restrictions against maximum muzzle energy, using the trademarks of real firearms, and for special marking requirements.
- 1 Australia
- 2 Argentina
- 3 Armenia
- 4 Belgium
- 5 Brazil
- 6 Bulgaria
- 7 Canada
- 8 Chile
- 9 China
- 10 Colombia
- 11 Croatia
- 12 Czech Republic
- 13 Denmark
- 14 Egypt
- 15 Estonia
- 16 Finland
- 17 France
- 18 Germany
- 19 Greece
- 20 Hong Kong
- 21 Indonesia
- 22 India
- 23 Ireland
- 24 Israel
- 25 Italy
- 26 Japan
- 27 Kuwait
- 28 Lithuania
- 29 Macau
- 30 Malaysia
- 31 Malta
- 32 Netherlands
- 33 New Zealand
- 34 Norway
- 35 Philippines
- 36 Poland
- 37 Portugal
- 38 Republic of Korea
- 39 Romania
- 40 Russia
- 41 Serbia
- 42 Slovakia
- 43 Slovenia
- 44 Singapore
- 45 Spain
- 46 Sweden
- 47 Switzerland
- 48 Thailand
- 49 Ukraine
- 50 United Kingdom
- 51 United States
- 52 References
Importation of airsoft guns, regardless of their legal status by state, requires an Australian Customs B709 Importation of Firearms – Police Confirmation and Certification Form. These forms can be obtained from the relevant state's police department, however some states may require operators hold a valid license for the class of firearm wished to import before the forms will be issued even though 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:
- Guns capable of fully automatic fire.
- 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 for any reason.
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.
- 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, 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. Regardless of this, South Australian police will refuse to register an airsoft rifle.
Airsoft articles are not permitted in Victoria under the Victorian Legislation and Victoria Police will not issue any authorization for their importation on the basis that no genuine reason exists to own them due to the fact that there is no approved range in Victoria.
- Western Australia
Airsoft articles are permitted in Western Australia and Western Australian Police will not issue any authorization for their importation.
- Northern Territory
Only paintball guns are prohibited in the Northern Territory, and 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.
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 categorized 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 most likely not change in the near future.
In Argentina, airsoft guns and pistols are not regulated, but only 18-year-old citizens and older can purchase them.
Airsoft guns with muzzle energy below 3 joules (muzzle velocity 173.2 m/s for 0.20 g projectiles) are legal. They are not considered weapons and do not require any permission.
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, as checked from 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 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 replicas, a plausible explanation has to be given when asked by law enforcement authorities.
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.
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 are 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, as it costs almost the same as a real firearm in the US, which will make it very hard for airsoft to become popular in Brazil.
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 or licenses are 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 include schools, administrative buildings, public property, and public areas.
Under the Canadian Firearms 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. Models resembling antique arms may be allowed. Generally, antique arms are those manufactured before 1898. Individuals may keep replica guns they owned on December 1, 1998 and no license is required, however the import or acquisition of replica firearms is prohibited. If the replica firearm is taken out of Canada it will not be allowed back in.
Air guns (other than replicas) with a maximum muzzle velocity of 152.4 m/s (500 f/s) 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 but are considered a firearm under the Criminal Code if used to commit a crime. Airsoft guns that exceed both the maximum velocity and maximum muzzle energy are subject to the same licence, registration, and safe handling requirements that apply to conventional firearm.
An airsoft gun that, is obviously a child's toy (e.g. made out of clear plastic), that only fires a very light pellet (less than 2g) no faster than 152.4 m/s (500 f/s) would not be classified as a firearm under the Canadian Firearms Act.
In Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec, the minimum age to purchase an airsoft gun is 18. Children under that age are still able to use airsoft guns but only if supervised by someone over 18.
Overseas/international retailers may sell Canadian-ready guns, or offer services to make them meet Canada's requirements. If the Canada Border Services Agency suspects an import is illegal a letter may be sent out to inform the importer, and an appeal can be made to test the gun. These airsoft guns are typically sent to the importer's local police agency for the firearms to be tested. This process could take between 2 weeks to a year and anecdotally.
Chile recognized airsoft as a legal sport activity under Exempt Resolution No. 245 of January 20, 2011 by the National Institute of Sports.
Albeit airsoft replicas are not clearly regulated, under Chilean gun law, modified toy guns to be used with real ammunition it's illegal and punishable by law as well as to carrying an unconcealed weapon in a public area. Also there is not law restriction to who is buying it or who is using an airsoft gun, but stores and sports club usually restrict them to be 18 or older to be able to buy or to play.
In the People's Republic of China, despite it is rumored that airsoft is banned, airsoft is just tightly controlled. According to the Public Security Bureau, "Recognized standard of an imitation gun", an imitation gun "with a muzzle energy above 1.8 joules of kinetic energy" or "an appearance so realistic that makes it indistinguishable" in "shape, size and color" is considered as illegal. However, people buy and store them regardless of legal issues. Sales and manufacture of airsoft guns may also be illegal in Mainland China.
To avoid the government finding airsoft online, various underground airsoft players often refer to AEG [automatic electric guns] as "electric dogs" [Dian Gou 電狗].
In Colombia, Airsoft replicas are treated by law not as replicas or toys, but as proper pneumatic guns which are free to trade, but illegal to be used in any manner that may endanger or intimidate members of the public except where there is reasonable cause such as a game or match in a private property if it does not bother others. In Colombia, all "war-like" toys are strictly prohibited, which is why replicas are labeled as pneumatic guns.
All replicas, sights, magazines, optics, etc., require a government permit prior to importation. However they are free to trade in sports stores, where they are only available for purchase to people over 18 years. Minors may use them under the direct supervision of someone over 18.
It is prohibited to have any replica gun in public sight. This is treated similarly to illegal possession of a real firearm. A firearms certificate is not required. All airsoft guns have to be transported concealed in a bag, in a trunk, etc. It is legal to buy, possess and sell airsoft replicas.
Airsoft replicas fall into the D category of weapons and to buy one, users have to be at least 18 years old. The maximum allowed muzzle velocity for various categories of rifles by Croatian Airsoft Federation are:
AEG - 1,49J (joules) - max 1,56J Machinegun - 1,49J (joula) - max 1,56J DMR - 2,32J (joules) – max 2,42J (minimum allowed range of action is 20 m, mandatory sidearm and integrated optics to enlarge ) Bolt-action - 3,34J (joules) - max 3,46J (minimum allowed range of action is 30 m, mandatory sidearm and integrated optics to enlarge )
use automatic ( burst ) mode shooting replicas in enclosed spaces is allowed if the replicas do not have a kinetic energy greater than 0,84J ( joules ), mandatory reporting of such replicas to the organizer, it is referred to in the manner and at the discretion of the organizers
- ALLOWED use only replicas which are in reality DMR any other conversions are not allowed AK / M4 ff .
- Replicas of the DMR, which are not mechanically unable to switch to auto -fire regime can not be used at the meeting
Airsoft guns in the Czech Republic are "category D firearms", which are regulated by Czech firearm laws. Weapons and ammunition can be purchased, owned and used by anyone older than 18 years old. There is no need to have any certificate or permission. Airsoft weapons are prohibited to use in public places where they might threaten other people or damage property. Firearm laws prohibit (not only in category D) the use of specific gun accessories like night vision or a laser. Airsoft guns are limited to 16 joules, but this is a limitation for all weapons in category D. Carrying any visible firearm in public places is prohibited.
Airsoft guns are mentioned in the Danish "Våbenlov" (arms control legislation). Persons 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, in a trunk, etc.
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.
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.
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 12) are able to purchase airsoft guns only with written permission from their legal guardians.
Visible transportation of replica firearms in public areas is forbidden. They must be covered with something like a firearm case. Land owner's permission is needed to play airsoft in any area. An orange marking on the tip is not needed.
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).
Airsoft guns under 0.5 joules are deemed to be toy guns and can be used by all people. In addition, they must not be worn in public as they can be authentic looking weapons. If the muzzle energy is between 0.5 and 7.5 joules, Airsoft guns are no longer seen as toy guns. In that case, they are treated as air rifles, the minimum age for purchasing and / or using an airsoft gun is 18 years. These guns need a special marking, the so-called "F in a pentagon", otherwise they are illegal to possess.
The trade and possession of Airsoft guns is otherwise mainly unrestricted, but transportation is permitted only in a closed container. The shoot or ready access port is permitted only on a closed private property.
The possession of lamps or lasers meant for (Airsoft) guns requires a permission, a violation constitutes an offense.
Airsoft is basically an underground sport in Greece because the law is a little foggy. According to the law, airsoft guns fall into 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.
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, above which they are considered as a firearm and need registration, and possession of an unregistered firearm is illegal.
Under the Section 13 of Cap 238 Firearms and Ammunition Ordinance of the Hong Kong Law, unrestricted use of firearms and ammunition requires a license. Those found in possession without a license could be fined HKD$100,000 and be imprisoned for up to 14 years.
In Indonesia, there are no strict rules about airsoft and there still has been 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 in 1996. 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. Other authorized clubs that exist in Indonesia to accommodate airsoft and all of its users include the Porgasi, the Airsoft Brotherhood Unity, and the Airsoft Indonesia Federation.
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
Airsoft is an unrecognized sporting activity in India. Officially, mention of this sport does not exist in Indian sports guidelines, laws or documents. So it does not come under any category of sports or recreational activities. Therein lies the core issues Indians face regarding legal aspects of this activity.
India does not have an airsoft manufacturing sector like most other nations. Thus every need for this activity has to be met through imports. Since the Indian Customs and the government are not aware about the existence of this sport or the nature of equipments used, imports will get seized citing resemblance to firearms. Inclusion of these items under Toy category is not an option anymore. There's also the risk of wrong classification under prohibited airgun caliber since only .177 cal is allowed for conditional civilian import into India. Detained items may be destroyed or sent for lab tests depending on the situation, with long waiting periods to obtain results.
Another side of nonrecognition is the pseudo legal nature of this activity, since it's not mentioned anywhere. This has resulted in a thriving black market which effectively destroyed the true nature of this sport in India. Entry level equipments are being sold at more than premium prices with active support from corrupt authorities. This ended up turning airsoft into a collection activity than a field sport.
This doesn't mean airsoft as a sport isn't happening in India. It's unorganized and in a much smaller scale than developed nations. Also many imports are successful, but these are mostly exceptions than norm.
Recently, steps are being taken to reverse this trend and get this sport mainstream under Airsoft Sporting Club of India (ASCI) and Red Airsoft Club India (RACI) founded by enthusiasts. The groups are expecting to start field events in few years.
The status of airsoft in Ireland was changed after the 2006 Criminal Justice Act, which amended the previous Firearms Acts. 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 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.
Airsoft guns are classified as "dangerous toys" in Israel which makes airsoft legal to import, manufacture and sell by licensed 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 and AEG level airsoft guns. Currently, purchase of airsoft guns of all levels is possible only through one or two licensed retailers only.
Israeli airsofters have created airsoft associations 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.
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.
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. One 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 use it. 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 owning the airsoft gun, one 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 using 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. One 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.
In Japan, airsoft guns are legal, but may not shoot with a muzzle energy above 0.988 joules. And for adolescents, 0.135 joules.
Legal requirements are based on an airsoft model manufacturers to prevent any possibility of replica firearms being converted into actual firearms. 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.
In Kuwait, airsoft guns can be bought by anyone of any age. New growth in the airsoft market has helped to create many stores that sell gas and electric operated airsoft guns with an FPS (Feet per second) of 300-450. Airsoft is also an unorganized sport, along with paint-balling, although official places do have official airsoft and paint-ball arenas. Thus, airsoft is legal, and is considered a toy.
Registration of any sort is not required for airsoft firearms. If the gun has under 2.5 Joules of energy, it is not considered a weapon and only those over 18 years of age can purchase airsoft.
Airsoft guns with under two joules muzzle energy are legal.
Airsoft guns are not classified as real weapon counterparts but airsoft is illegal to own, import, manufacture, and sell without a permit, which is very hard and expensive to get.
Currently, no companies or sports associations have the permits to import airsoft weapons. Most applications come from security services related companies.
As of now, no legislation specifically for Airsoft has been drafted. In their absence, the Firearms Act, has precedence.
The legal status of Airsoft is that it is not legal to own, trade, transport, display, or play openly.
Airsoft guns were legally introduced in 1985. They have been classified under the category of air guns. In this classification, one finds air rifles (any power limit), airsoft guns, and paintball guns. At that time, 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.
Now, there is an amendment to the current regulation which came into effect in 2013 for airsoft and paintball guns, which are non-lethal guns.
It is no longer required to have a Target shooter license B to purchase, use, and own airsoft or paintball devices.
On 1 January 2013, new Dutch laws regarding airsoft came into effect. Airsoft devices are air, gas, or spring powered weapons with a maximum shooting energy of 3.5 joules (615 FPS or 187 m/s with .20g BBs) and look almost completely like real firearms. Those who wish to possess an airsoft replica or participate in a skirmish will have to be registered with a certified airsoft organization. As of May 2016, only the NABV, the Dutch Airsoft Sport Association , was registered. Participation in a skirmish for non members is allowed up to 6 times per Year, but the Dutch Airsoft Sports Association will need to receive certain details about the player, this is usually done when you Rent at an airsoft Site.
Any player who is not a Dutch citizen can play without membership in the Netherlands, but they have to file for Exemption at the Dutch Airsoft Sport Association
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).
It is illegal to use these firearms in any manner that may endanger or intimidate members of the public except where there is reasonable cause such as an airsoft game.
Police, New Zealand, Airguns Factsheet, retrieved 2007-07-24
In order to import an airsoft gun, one must meet one of these stipulations:
- Seeks to possess the restricted airgun as part of a collection, and demonstrates that it fits with and enhances an existing collection.
- Participates in an identifiable shooting discipline or sport at an incorporated sports club with rules encouraging safe and legal use of airguns and a range certified for the shooting activity and intends to use the restricted airgun in an event at that sports club.
- Wishes to use the restricted airgun in a capacity equivalent to that described in section 29(2)(e) of the Arms Act 1983 ('theatrical purposes').
- Wishes to replace an unsafe or unserviceable restricted airgun.
- Requires the restricted airgun for occupational purposes.
- The individual applying for the permit to import demonstrates the special significance of that particular restricted airgun as an heirloom or memento.
- A dealer needs to import restricted airguns for the purposes of maintaining a stock of restricted airguns used for an identifiable shooting discipline or sport.
- A dealer is importing the restricted airgun as agent for an individual who has a special reason for importing that item.
- A dealer wishes to replace an unsafe or unserviceable restricted airgun.
Legislation, New Zealand, Arms Act 1983, retrieved 2014-07-15
The arms control legislation (Våpenforskrift) requires that one has to be at least 18 years old to buy airsoft but can use and own airsoft as a minor if they are wearing protection and have approval by parents.
Using an airsoft firearm while committing a crime receives the same punishment as the one received for using a real weapon. One is also required to carry firearms inside a bag, or some other kind of container to conceal the firearm from the public.
In order to play the sport, airsoft guns must be serialized and registered. Players must also sequester a permit to legally transport their guns to authorized game sites. 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. In the 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. 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. The Republic Act No. 10591 declassified airsoft weapons as actual firearms. A ban places airsoft guns on the list of banned firearms. It classifies that no person is permitted to carry firearms in public except for security officers, police officers and military personnel on duty.
Airsoft guns as well as the sport of Airsoft are legal in Poland. The law does not distinguish Airsoft guns from Airguns, thus the only requirement is that they cannot exceed 17J of energy, which would classify them as pneumatic weapons. Open carrying an Airsoft replica in a public area is prohibited. Using an Airsoft replica in a crime is treated by the law like using a real firearm. One must be 18 to buy an Airsoft gun but there are no age restrictions to who can use one.
With the new revision of the "Guns and Ammunition Act", airsoft guns are not considered as firearms. Currently, the formal definition of an airsoft gun is a 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 374 fps with 0,2g BBs). The minimum age to purchase and use these replicas is 18 years old, however, a 16-year-old may be allowed to buy and use them with written parental consent. One must be a member of an APD - sport promotion association.
Recognition of this APD is made by the IDP - 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. There are several APDs for airsoft in Portugal, CAM - Clube de Airsoft da Maia, ALA (FPA) Associação Lusitana de Airsoft, APA - Associação Portuguesa de Airsoft, ANA - Associação Nacional de Airsoft, APMA - Associação Portuguesa de Milsim e Airsoft, ADAPT - Associação Desportiva de Airsoft Português, and AACP - Associação Airsoft Costa de Prata. In addition, replicas have to be painted either in fluorescent yellow or fluorescent red and be 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.
Republic of Korea
In the Republic of Korea, airsoft guns belong in two categories. One category is made up of toys and the other is made up of similar firearms. According to the safety standards of manufacturing goods which are targeted by safety certicifications, airsoft guns for those under 20 years old are under 0.14J, and for those above 20 years are under 0.2J (under 148 fps with 0.2g bb's). Airsoft guns must have orange tips which can not detach. If one doesn't follow that rule, the airsoft guns are regarded as similar firearms.
Law nr. 295 (Regimul Armelor şi Muniţiilor) regulates all use of firearms and associated ammunition. The law is quite unclear (concerning airsoft firearms) as to whether this kind of firearm classifies as a "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 the "non-lethal" category and solely requires that one is at least 18 years old to purchase and register the firearm at the police precinct nearest to one's 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 one attempt to use a non-lethal or replica gun to perform (or attempt to perform) armed robbery, one shall be prosecuted as if a real firearm had been used.
Airsoft guns with a muzzle energy below 3 joules (muzzle velocity 173.2 m/s for 0.20 g projectiles) are legal, are not considered weapons, and do not require any permission.
At this moment, laws consider Airsoft replicas as toys and do not require permission to own or use.
Airsoft guns have a status similar to the Czech Republic and Slovakia, 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 night vision scopes is forbidden. The owner of a gun is required by law to secure the firearm 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 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.
A few clubs in Singapore have managed to set up IPSC shooting using airsoft guns with permission from the government.
Players have to comply with their Town Halls' requirements, which differ from town to town. Some 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. It is legal to buy, possess and sell airsoft replicas and accessories.
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.
As of the 2nd of January 2015 it is legal to own and import gas operated airsoft weapons without special permits in Sweden.
In Switzerland, airsoft guns are considered weapons. Airsoft firearms may not be sold to or possessed by persons who are under 18 or 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.
The importation 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.
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 long 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.
Whilst shops sell Airsoft guns and supplies, the law is a bit vague. 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.
- 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 not be used to commit a crime or torture animals.
The gun is considered illegal if any of these rules are broken.
Ukrainian law requires licensing of air weapons that have initial velocity over 100 m/s and caliber over 4.5mm, so airsoft might require license since they usually have 6mm caliber.
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. Unrealistic imitation firearms (IF's) must have their principle color 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). Exceptions 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 programs
- the organisation and holding of historical re-enactments
- crown servants.
The notes for the VCRA state the following: "The regulations provide for two new defenses. 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."
The airsoft defense 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 defense. 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 at must hold public Public Liability Insurance. Skirmish play in the United Kingdom has a maximum of 350 ft/s, with some airsoft locations having a limit as low as 290 ft/s.
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 guns and BB guns are not to be sold to anyone under the age of 18, but owning an airgun or airsoft is legal from the age of 10. The only way a person under the age of 18 is 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.
The law on the use and purchase of airguns has only recently been changed, in the 2007 VCR Act. This act, with Violent Crime Reduction as its theme, included a change in the age at which one can legally buy an airgun, raising it from 17 to 18 years of age. It also changed the way in which airguns can be bought from shops.
From October 1, 2007, shops selling airguns as part of their business have become Registered Firearms Dealers and one can only buy from them direct, and not by mail-order. This restriction only applies to airguns and silencers, not to scopes, mounts or any of the huge range of airgun related accessories available from gunshops, and neither does it apply to private airgun sales as available, for instance, in the Airgun World Bullseyes or the Air Gunner Swapshop.
The penalties for breaking the laws that govern airguns are severe and those penalties bring airgunners entirely under the jurisdiction of the full firearms laws. In simple terms, when used unlawfully, airguns are regarded by the legal authorities as firearms, and carry exactly the same legal status as shotguns and live-ammunition guns, with no concession in law for the airguns vastly reduced power levels.
It is legal for anyone above the age of 14 to shoot an airgun, although an airgun is more dangerous than an airsoft gun, rules apply on private land where full permission to shoot has been given. Those below the age of 14 may shoot airguns only if closely supervised by someone over 18 years of age. The supervising adult is legally responsible for the actions of the junior shooter. Airguns may be used only on land where the user has full permission to shoot. It is illegal to shoot an airgun on any land, including common land, river banks, public land, recreation areas, or playing fields and land covered by water, i.e. lakes, ponds, canals, and rivers where one does not have full permission from the land owner or its tenant. It is also illegal to fire an airgun closer than 50 feet (15 metres) from the center of a public highway, bridleway, or footpath, if shooting causes upset or inconvenience to those using the highway.
It is legal for persons authorized by the landowner or tenant to carry out vermin control with an air rifle. The legal airgun quarry species include brown rats, magpies, carrion crows, rooks, jays, squirrels, woodpigeons, feral pigeons, and collared doves.
The legal muzzle-energy limit for air rifles is 12 ft.lb and for pistols, 6 ft.lb. For rifles producing more than 12 ft.lb, a Firearms Certificate (FAC) is required. Air pistols that produce more than 6 ft.lb are prohibited.
Airguns must always be transported in securely-fastened cases that do not permit the airgun to be fired whilst in the case. Since the implementation of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act, airgunners between 14 and 18 years of age are no longer allowed to transport an airgun to the venues at which they shoot. These shooters must be accompanied and supervised by someone of 21 years or above.
Airsoft used sales in the United Kingdom where stopped after Facebook enforced a weapon sales ban on its website in 2016 sites such as weaponcrates.com and other forums took this opotunitiy to start online marketplaces to support the sale and resell of airsoft replicas.
Under federal law, airsoft guns are not classified as firearms and are legal for all ages. People 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, 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. Generally speaking, toy, look-alike, and imitation firearms must have an orange tip during shipping and transportation.
Although airsoft guns in the United States are generally sold with a (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 Part 272 of Title 15 of the Code of Federal Regulations on foreign commerce and trade (15 CFR 272), which stipulates 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. However these restrictions do 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."  This language 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 a hit or a miss. One might get an "unlicensed" gun through customs with trademarks intact, while a licensed gun might be held in customs by a uniformed customs agent. In early 2007, a United States House of Representatives resolution to allow imports to retain trademarks, even without agreement between the real firearms manufacturer and the replica manufacturer, was unsuccessful.
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. In some cases, people carrying or brandishing airsoft guns have been fatally shot by law enforcement personnel:
- (2006) Christopher Penley, Longwood, Florida
- (2007) Justin Gregg, Denton, Texas
- (2011) Ernest Vassell, Miami, Florida
- (2011) Kyle Miller, Broomfield, Colorado
- (2012) Jaime Gonzalez Jr., Brownsville, Texas
- (2013) Andy Lopez, Santa Rosa, California
- (2014) Rocendo Arias, Yakima, Washington
- (2014) John Crawford III, Dayton, Ohio
- (2014) Kristopher Barkus, Butler Township, Pennsylvania
- (2014) Sebastian Lewandowski, Vancouver, Washington
- (2014) Tamir Rice, Cleveland, Ohio
- (2015) Matthew Hoffman (apparent suicide), San Francisco, California
- (2015) Cody Evans, Provo, Utah
- (2015) Vincente David Montano, Nashville, Tennessee
- (2015) La'Vante Biggs, Durham, North Carolina
- (2016) Christine Lucas, Rising Sun, Maryland
- (2016) Charles Hollstein, Zion, Illinois
- (2016) Eric Provost, Orlando, Florida
- (2016) Thomas Hirko, Perry Township, Ohio
- (2016) Paul Gaston, Cheviot, Ohio
- (2016) Lionel Gibson, Long Beach, California
Selected local requirements
California Makes it illegal to sell Airsoft/BB guns to anyone under 18 without their parent's permission and all airsoft guns are required to be fitted with an orange blaze barrel for sale and transport. In 2016 it will also require all airsoft guns to have fluorescent coloration over the trigger guard and grip (with additional requirements for rifles or long guns).
During 1987 in New York City, more than 1400 toy imitation weapons involved in criminal acts were seized by New York City police; approximately 80 percent higher from the previous four years. On the basis of legislative intent dealing with the increasing volume of criminal acts in correlation with toy imitation weapons, New York City introduced new guidelines regulating the manufacture, importation, distribution, and sale of such imitation weapons.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).
Texas allows airsoft guns to be owned, but most cities require that the airsoft guns be discharged only while outside city limits.
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 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 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. Guns that are translucent or clear are allowed to be sold or transported. 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. (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 predominantly colored other than black, brown, blue, silver, or metallic.(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 predominantly colored something other than black, brown, blue, silver or metallic; nor imitation firearms that are built of predominantly 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 law states that BB and airsoft guns are considered real firearms, therefore making them subject to the same laws as actual firearms. This means that one has to have a state firearms license to possess and therefore one must be over 18 to operate or own an airsoft or pellet gun. It would also proscribe convicted felons, domestic abusers, and other firearm "prohibited persons" from possessing Airsoft or BB guns. Anyone not over 18 or who does not have a New Jersey firearms license is subject to arrest and prosecution.
Enforcement of this law is intermittent. There are many fields and stores in operation and sporting goods stores regularly carry Airsoft replicas. However, a man was arrested in 2013 for firing a replica in his backyard.
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§ 272.2 Prohibitions.
No person shall manufacture, enter into commerce, ship, transport, or receive any toy, look-alike, or imitation firearm (“device”) covered by this part as set forth in § 272.1 unless such device contains, or has affixed to it, one of the markings set forth in § 272.3, or unless this prohibition has been waived by § 272.4.
- 15 CFR 272.2 Prohibitions
- 15 CFR 272.3 Approved markings
- 15 CFR 272.1 Applicability.
This part applies to toy, look-alike, and imitation firearms (“devices”) having the appearance, shape, and/or configuration of a firearm and produced or manufactured and entered into commerce on or after May 5, 1989, including devices modelled on real firearms manufactured, designed, and produced since 1898. This part does not apply to: [...]
(b) 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, as described in American Society for Testing and Materials standard F 589-85, Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Non-Powder Guns, June 28, 1985.
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