Airsoft is an exciting, fast-growing sport that lets you and your friends shoot it out with safe, authentic-looking guns. Unfortunately, those authentic looking guns carry some unique risks of their own, and several laws and regulations have been put into place to address those risks.
Licensing and Minimum Age
In the United States, there is no license required to purchase or own an Airsoft gun. There are, however, age restrictions that may bar some minors from purchasing guns or equipment. Some states and cities make it illegal for anyone younger than18 to purchase or own an Airsoft gun, while others may require the signature of a parent or guardian before selling to anyone younger than 18. While these restrictions may vary from state to state, or even store to store, it’s always a good idea to have an adult present if the buyer is younger than 18.
Federal law requires the barrel of any replica gun or similar toy to be marked with a bright orange tip. This highly visible marking is used to prevent people from confusing Airsoft guns with real firearms.
Many online retailers selling guns manufactured outside of the United States will not have these orange tips. While it is legal in some states to own an unmarked gun, owners should be aware that the display or use of these guns may carry heavy penalties.
In some parts of the country, such as New York, Airsoft guns are required by law to be visually distinct and easily distinguishable from real firearms. For this reason, many manufacturers and retailers offer guns made of clear or brightly colored plastic.
Use and Display
Many states and cities have also enacted laws restricting the use and display of Airsoft guns. These restrictions may limit use to private property, or ban any use within city limits. Some states have stiff penalties for using or displaying guns in public places. You should always find out what the laws are in your locale.
Airsoft and Crime
If an Airsoft gun is used in committing a crime, the law will make no differences between replicas and real firearms. If you chose to threaten someone with anything that resembles a gun, you will be punished and risk being shot by law enforcement.
For safety reasons, there are limits on a gun’s firepower. Generally speaking, indoor use is restricted at 300 to 350 feet per second, and outdoor use is slightly higher at 350 to 400 feet per second. These limited speeds make for safer play, keeping pellets from breaking the skin and causing injury.
All organized Airsoft groups and playing fields will also require the use of some safety equipment. At a minimum, this will include shatterproof goggles to protect the eyes. It’s not uncommon for groups to also require face protection. Sometimes this means wearing a full face paintball mask, but other times it may merely require a balaclava or similar covering.