Airsoft guns are similar to BB guns or pellet guns. Manufacturers make them look like real machine guns, rifles, and handguns. Airsoft guns typically fire pellets via gas, spring, or electrical systems. People use them for paintball-style gaming, target practice, firearms training, and as movie props.
Retailers often market airsoft guns as game-playing devices that simulate actual combat with automatic or semi-automatic weapons. However, children's and adults' use of airsoft guns in other areas is growing.
Because of airsoft guns' uncanny resemblance to real firearms, many laws and regulations affect their manufacture, importation, and ownership. This article will discuss some of the safety concerns with airsoft guns. It will also highlight some of the laws dealing with this product.
Airsoft Guns: Safety Concerns
Many people see airsoft guns as toys. However, they are projectile weapons capable of inflicting harm. According to a 2019 study, over 13,000 people under 18 years of age are injured with nonpowder guns yearly. And while the number of overall injuries has decreased significantly (55%), the number of eye injuries has increased by 30%.
Air guns fire their BBs at speeds of hundreds of feet per second. They create a risk of serious eye injury. In recent years, hospitals and health care professionals nationwide have reported a significant rise in airsoft-related eye injuries.
A more significant concern is that airsoft guns can have deadly consequences. There have been numerous instances in which police shot people (often youths) holding realistic-looking airsoft guns because they thought the weapons were real.
Because people view airsoft guns, spring guns, and BB guns as toys, young people owning the weapons sometimes do not appreciate the risks they face simply holding these "toy guns."
Airsoft Guns Laws and Regulations
United States federal importation laws require that all airsoft guns transported within or imported into the country have barrels with a minimum 6-mm-wide blaze orange tip. They do this so people don't confuse them with real firearms.
Most retailers have disclaimers stating that their airsoft guns come with orange tips and that removing them is illegal.
There are other regulations on the use of airsoft guns. You must be 18 or older in the USA to purchase airsoft guns and AEGs (electric airsoft rifles). However, these products are not classified as firearms and are legal under federal law.
Some states and municipalities restrict the use and purchase of airsoft guns. For example, New York City; Washington, D.C.; Chicago; San Francisco; and parts of Michigan outlaw them entirely. In California, it's a crime to brandish a look-alike gun in public. Furthermore, if you're arrested for a crime using an airsoft pistol, the police can charge you as if you had a legitimate weapon.
What To Do If Someone Injures You With an Airsoft Rifle
Airsoft rifles are dangerous for a few reasons. First, they look like real guns, so if you threaten someone with one, they may return fire with a real weapon. Second, even if you are playing around, you could hurt a friend or loved one. You can also hurt yourself.
When you use one of these products, you may experience gas blowback. This can cause eye injuries, facial disfigurement, and other ailments. The gun may also buck when you use it. You could fall and injure yourself if that happens.
As unique as these imitation firearms may be, they cause thousands of injuries annually. You may have a legal claim if someone hurts you with one of these fake weapons. The question is: Who will you sue?
In any product liability case, you have the right to sue the dangerous or defective product manufacturer. In the case of airsoft guns, you may also have a legal claim against the person who hurt you.
What if the Air Gun Is Defective?
If your air gun is defective, you could suffer many physical injuries. Even if you use the product in an airsoft field, there's no guarantee you won't harm yourself or someone else. Some manufacturers put warnings on their guns, saying to use plastic pellets and to wear eye protection. However, you can hurt yourself even using the air rifles correctly.
Some of the ways your airsoft gun may be defective include the following:
- Durability: If your gun malfunctions the first time you use it, there is a durability issue. You may have a claim against the manufacturer for a design or manufacturing defect.
- Defective Ammo: Some airsoft guns come with ammo. If there is an issue with the ammo, you could injure yourself or another player in your airsoft game.
- Faulty Rate of Fire: The manufacturers design these guns to fire at a certain speed. If there's a problem and it misfires, you could shoot someone's eye out.
Of course, you can reduce your chances of hurting yourself if you take safety precautions.
How To Keep Yourself and Others Safe
You can do several things to protect yourself and the people around you. Some of these include:
- Always wear safety gear.
- Practice with simulations before you go out on the field with your gun.
- If your air gun has a red dot warning, ensure it's accurate.
- Get a feel for the gun before using it with others around.
- Keep your air rifle and ammo secured in a locked gearbox.
You should also be careful about the type of gun you use. Do research to ensure the brand has a good safety record. Finally, check to see what kind of warranty the product has. You may be entitled to a refund or replacement item if the gun is defective but doesn't harm anyone.
Airsoft Guns: The Bottom Line
Reckless handling of airsoft guns can cause serious injuries. They can also lead to physical injury or death. If minors are using these guns, adult supervision is an absolute necessity. Finally, never use airsoft guns in public areas. For your own sake, you should also check with local law enforcement to ensure it's not against the law to own or use this product.
You should call a consumer products attorney if an airsoft gun hurts you. They will review the facts of your case and let you know if you have a valid claim.
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Contact a qualified product liability attorney to make sure your rights are protected.