What Are AirSoft Guns
Airsoft guns are replica firearms that use plastic pellets, commonly known as BBs. The firing mechanism typically involves compressed gas or spring-driven motors. They are marketed as a non-lethal firearm and are normally associated with recreational activities. Airsoft guns are commonly a part of group games, similar to paintball, reenactments and are also used for police and military training. There are numerous manufacturers of airsoft guns and they come in many forms, especially replicas of classic weapons such as the AK-47 and the Kalishnikov rifle.
Dangers Associated With Airsoft Guns
Most airsoft guns are effectively harmless. The average, manufacturer designated gun, fires a round at under 350 ft/s which is just fast enough to break the skin from close range. Airsoft guns do have the potential for being made to shoot at speeds ranging from 65 ft/s to 700 ft/s. At levels of 700 ft/s the effects of a hit from a pellet could be lethal. Airsoft guns are not manufactured to reach those speeds but they can be altered. When using an airsoft gun it is important to wear the appropriate gear. At a minimum this includes approved eyewear and a mouth guard. There have been reports that direct shots to the teeth from approved airsoft rifles have resulted in damage and required root canals to fix the problem.
The use and sale of airsoft guns is regulated by both federal and state laws. Under federal law an airsoft gun is not classified as a firearm and may be purchased by individuals of any age. Airsoft guns are, however, considered firearms in many states in the Union. California, for example, will not permit the posession or sale of an airsoft gun to anyone under the age of 18. Federal law also requires that there be a 6mm orange band aound the barrel of any airsoft gun sold in the United States. Law differs from state to state as to whether the orange band can be removed upon sale. Because of the similarities between firearms and airsoft guns many states impose the same penalties for abuse of an airsoft gun. For example, in some states the use of an airsoft gun in a robbery will be treated the same way as if the robbery occured with the use of a firearm.
Every year there are thousands of injuries resulting from the use of airsoft guns. Many of these individuals are under 20 which tends to show that there should be stricter regulation in the sale of these guns to minors. Personal injury actions are, therefore, prevalent.
More popularized though are the trademark lawsuits that are associated with airsoft guns. Because airsoft guns are manufactured to be almost exact replicas of famous weapons there are numerous trademark issues involved. Manufacturers of airsoft guns are required to acquire licenses with the manufacturers of the copied firearms before they are allowed to proceed. Failure to get or maintain the license has resulted in many lawsuits. In 2007 the House of Representatives introduced a bill that would no longer require licenses in order to manufacture airsoft versions of firearms. The bill never made it past subcommittee.