Under Federal Law, airsoft guns are not classified as firearms and are legal for all ages. 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. The seller must only verify that the buyer is 18 or older.
A 6 mm minimum orange tip must be present on the barrel end of the airsoft gun (or clear/transparent body) to identify it as such for any commercial sales. Once sold, local laws may vary on whether or not the orange tip must be kept. In many places no laws exist restricting one from removing or replacing the orange tip, but one should check the local laws before making such a modification.
Airsoft guns' trademarks must be removed where the manufacturer does not have an existing license agreement with the manufacturer of the real fire arm. For example: Classic Army has a licensing agreement with ArmaLite, so the trademarks can stay on imported replicas of ArmaLite's weapons. In practice, enforcement is hit or miss. You might get an "unlicensed" gun through customs with trademarks intact, while a licensed gun might be held in customs by an uninformed customs agent. House Resolution 607, sponsored in early 2007, would have changed this if passed (it was not), allowing imports to retain trademarks even if there is no agreement between the real firearms manufacturer and the replica manufacturer.
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.
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).
Michigan allows the purchase of airsoft guns. However, they must have an orange tip on the barrel.
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.
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 18 to purchase an airsoft gun without parental permission. In Saint Paul and Minneapolis, airsoft guns cannot be carried in public unless they either have an orange tip, are clear or brightly colored. Airsoft guns also cannot be carried in public if they have a laser attached. 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 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. 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 does not ban 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.
There are currently certain restrictions on the possession of airsoft replicas, which came in with the introduction of the ASBA (Anti-Social Behavior Act 2003) Amendments, prohibiting the possession of any firearms replica in a public place without good cause (to be concealed in a hard gun case or sealed container only not to be left in view of public at any time). The prohibition of self-contained gas cartridge firearms similar to that made by Brocock can arguably apply to Moscarts and BB-Shower grenade systems. However, a formal case precedent has yet to be set.
There were initial concerns among the airsoft community that the Violent Crime Reduction Bill (passed an Act in November 2006) would in future prevent airsoft skirmishers from buying realistic imitation firearms. However, on 20 September 2006, the Association of British Airsofters (ABA) received a letter from Tony McNulty (Minister of State for Security, Counter-Terrorism, Crime and Policing at the Home Office) saying that he has "decided to provide a defence for airsoft skirmishing in relation to the ban on the sale etc. of realistic firearms." There has been confirmation that airsoft will receive an exemption. This letter is viewable to all at Airsoft International online.
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 be more than 50% 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.
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."
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 (Founding members of this organisation were Airsoft Armouries, Airsoft World Ltd, Firesupport Ltd., Ironfoot Industries, RedWolf Airsoft (UK) Ltd., Wolf Armouries, Zeroone Airsoft and J.D. Airsoft Ltd.). 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 UKARA 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. Once a skirmisher is registered, they receive a membership card and must produce this before buying or trading airsoft firearms from these retailers, although this is not a legal requirement.
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 UKARA 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.
Two-tone variants of the Airsoft Gun are also available, where the majority of the surface of the gun is bright red, bright orange, bright yellow, bright blue, bright green, bright pink, or bright purple. These colour variants allow for the purchase of an Airsoft Gun in the UK from an airsoft distributor without the need to be registered, although their use in skirmishes is discouraged and at some sites, banned. Airsoft is not prohibited to persons under the age of 18.
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