Do Airsoft Guns Need A License?

Airsoft is probably the closest sport to military combat, considering the gameplay, mechanics, gear, and arsenal used in this team-shooting game. Guns in airsoft look almost exactly like the real ones. You can see some of them for yourself at BachBio.

Since they’re identical, it sometimes makes people wonder whether or not you also need a license to own and legally carry an airsoft gun. To provide you with a well-informed answer, we need to dissect what airsoft guns actually are.

Are Airsoft Guns Firearms?

Different countries and states also have different definitions of what a firearm is. Some governing bodies define a firearm as a weapon that fires projectile using gunpowder. Other local governments define a firearm as a type of gun that loads, fires, and ejects ammunition.

The federal law of the United States considers airsoft guns as toys, not firearms. However, some states use a different definition of a firearm, and airsoft guns fall under this category.

Airsoft Gun

Do You Need a License to Carry Your Airsoft Gun?

Since airsoft guns are generally classified as toys, you do not need a license to carry or own an airsoft gun. Still, you must be of legal age to purchase or sell an airsoft gun from a store or another private owner.

Nonetheless, since federal law states that these are toys, anyone can legally use an airsoft gun regardless of age. We must remind you, though, that some states have enforced restrictions on this type of toy.

We’ll get more into that later. First, let’s find out why there’s a need for stricter regulations on airsoft guns.

Safety Concerns

Whether we like it or not, airsoft guns are projectile weapons, which means they can shoot rounds of ammunition at extremely high speeds.

In 2005 alone, the CDC or Center for Disease Control and Prevention recorded about 19,575 injuries in emergency rooms across the US. All of these are caused by guns that don’t use gunpowder.

While only a percentage of the total number are listed as airsoft gun injuries, there’s no denying that this toy is capable of inflicting harm.

You might be thinking airsoft guns couldn’t possibly hurt that much. However, the danger escalates when a BB hits you in vital areas, like the eyes, nose, ears, or mouth.

In addition to this, there’s the danger of the gun’s appearance. There have been recorded instances where a person carrying an airsoft gun was shot and killed by a private gun owner or the police.

That’s because it’s difficult to distinguish an airsoft gun from a real live gun. Therefore, it blurs the line of whether or not the person carrying it is a threat.

Where in the US are Airsoft Guns Illegal?

With the circumstances we’ve listed above, some states in the US have banned or placed restrictions on airsoft guns. In the drive to regulate the use of these toys, here’s what other states have come up with:

New York

The State of New York requires all airsoft guns that imitate real firearms to be coated with bright colors. The colors should be non-removable, at least an inch thick, and run through the barrel of the gun.

Furthermore, airsoft guns must not be used or exposed in public places. Tampering, brandishing, or modifying an airsoft gun to look like a real one is also considered illegal.

Lastly, airsoft pistols or rifles that use spring or air propulsion require that the owner has a license.

Washington DC and San Francisco

Airsoft guns are not completely banned in Washington DC and San Francisco. However, if the airsoft gun is real or a replica, it is to be considered illegal.


You can purchase an airsoft gun in Michigan and use it in private or controlled environments. However, replicas should have orange barrel tips to distinguish them easier.


Minneapolis, Minnesota, also requires replicas to use an orange tip or have bright colors. It is considered illegal to use or fire an airsoft gun within the limits of any city in the state of Minnesota. Furthermore, children under 14 are prohibited from using an airsoft gun.


Arkansas is probably one of the strictest states when it comes to airsoft. Their law states that the use and ownership of any airsoft gun are completely prohibited.

There are still multiple states across the United States that prohibit or regulate airsoft guns. The best thing to do is consult your local government and ask them about the state’s airsoft law.

Responsibly Using Airsoft Guns

We can’t deny that the adventures of playing airsoft provide us with a thrill of a lifetime. We also can’t deny that they can be quite dangerous when not used correctly and safely.

It’s important that you’re aware of the various laws surrounding airsoft and whether or not you need a license to carry an airsoft gun in a specific state.

Related Articles