State Laws Regarding Airsoft Guns
Although Airsoft guns are considered "toy" guns, the dangers and outcomes of misuse has not gone unobserved by lawmakers. In other countries, such as Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, Canada and Singapore, the importing of "replica" Airsoft guns is prohibited. The importation laws of the United States merely state that all airsoft guns must have at least a 6mm wide bright neon orange tip on the barrel of any Airsoft gun so they will not be mistaken for a real firearm. Most Airsoft retailers state that it is illegal to remove the carrot-colored tip, and that Airsoft guns must be sold with such a tip.
Further, in the United States, you must be at least eighteen years old to purchase an Airsoft gun. Conversely, while you must be 18 years old to acquire an Airsoft gun, they are legal for all ages to actually use under federal law-unless your specific municipality or state places their own restrictions on Airsoft guns. Some states-California, most notably, have made it a criminal act to brandish an Airsoft or replica gun in public, and if one of these "look-alike" guns is used in the commission of a crime, it will be treated as though an actual firearm had been used.
How Real do Airsoft Guns Look?
Airsoft guns are more and more created to look exactly like other real firearms currently on the market as well as military weapons. Of course, the primary difference lies in the type of ammunition used in Airsoft guns, which are plastic or ceramic BB's, about the same size as a .22. Aside from the ammunition used, most of the Airsoft guns are almost indistinguishable from the real thing, so brandishing one in public could be detrimental to your health and safety. Airsoft guns should be strictly used for entertainment, and, as such, must be kept at home. Taking an Airsoft gun to a public park is never a smart idea because someone there could believe it was a real weapon, and the situation could escalate to a dangerous level.
How Do The Individual States Feel About Airsoft Guns?
Other than California, the laws regarding Airsoft guns throughout the United States are fairly lax; in specific municipalities such as Chicago and Detroit, certain restrictions are in place, and the states of New Mexico and Michigan don't allow the usage or handling of Airsoft in any public place due to their uncanny similarity to real firearms. In these two states Airsoft guns can only be used on private property with the consent of the legal owner.
United Kingdom Laws
Airsoft guns are classified as RIFs in the United Kingdom, meaning realistic imitation firearms. As such, the vending, production or importation of these RIFs is restricted to exempted activities, or those which have been granted a justification by the Home Office. Interestingly enough, Airsoft "skirmishing" has been granted such a justification, and under UK law, a "skirmisher" is allowed to be sold an Airsoft gun-it is not illegal for the skirmisher to buy the Airsoft gun, however it is illegal for the seller to sell it. If you are a member of a site which holds public liability insurance, then you may be entitled to a membership which allows you to play three games over a period of two months. If you are a member of a reenactment society or work in the film or TV industry, you may be exempted and allowed to purchase and use an Airsoft gun. As you can see, the laws are a little convoluted in Britain!
In short, Airsoft guns should be treated with the same respect as real guns, and you should definitely take the time to study the specific laws regarding Airsoft guns in your municipality.