Liability for Airsoft and BB Gun Injuries

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What are Airsoft Guns?

Airsoft guns are a brand of pellet guns that use spring, gas, or electrical mechanisms to fire small pellets at very high speeds. They are similar to BB guns, except that they are often manufactured to look exactly like real hand guns, rifles, or machine guns. They are typically used in connection with target practice, paint-ball type games, and firearms training. 

What are the Main Concerns with Airsoft and BB Guns?

One of the main dangers of Airsoft guns and similar BB guns is the risk of eye injury when using them. Airsoft guns are capable of firing pellets at many hundreds of feet per second. So, while they may be used as if they were a toy, the fact is that they can be very dangerous and should be handled with the same care as a real firearm.

In addition, and probably of greater concern is that Airsoft guns bear a remarkable resemblance to authentic firearms. There have been many reports of persons being mistakenly shot or tased by police officers who believed that a person was armed, but in reality were carrying an Airsoft gun. Simply holding such a “toy” can create a dangerous situation for youths and children, as well as adults. 

What are the Laws on Airsoft Guns?

On the one hand, a person must be 18 years of age or older in order to purchase Airsoft guns. However, Airsoft guns are not officially classified as firearms and may be used legally by persons of any age according to federal laws.
Several states and local municipalities currently restrict the usage of Airsoft guns. For example, San Francisco, New York City, Washington D.C., and Chicago have all completely outlawed the use of Airsoft guns. 
Other areas have restricted the specifications of Airsoft guns, such as imposing maximum velocity standards, and requiring the use of bright orange muzzle tips to distinguish them from real firearms. Many states like California have enacted laws which make it a crime to carry “look-alike” guns in public places. This can include Airsoft guns. 

Finally, persons who commit crimes using a replica or an Airsoft gun will usually be prosecuted as if they were using an actual firearm. You should check your local gun possession laws to learn the status of Airsoft guns in your area.

What if I have been injured by an Airsoft Gun?

As mentioned, Airsoft guns can present potential health and safety hazards, particularly to the eyes and face. Persons under 18 years of age should not use Airsoft guns without proper supervision, and even adults should exercise caution when using them. They should not be fired indoors or in public places where bystanders could be injured.
If you have been injured by using an Airsoft gun, it can be very difficult to recover damages since it is generally recognized that you are assuming the risk by using one. However, if the gun was defective and you were injured as a result of the defect, you may be able to recover for your injuries under defective products and manufacturer liability laws. 

You would need to prove that the gun was defective when you purchased it, and that the defects caused your injury. If you were not using the gun in the proper manner or for its intended purpose, you will likely not be able to recover damages.     

Do I Need a Lawyer for Airsoft Gun Injuries?

Airsoft and BB gun injuries occur by the thousands every year. Most of these involve persons who are aged 20 or younger. Persons should exercise the utmost caution when using such guns. If you have been injured due to a defective product, you may wish to contact a personal injury lawyer for advice. Also, if you have been involved in a crime or an incident involving an Airsoft gun, you should contact a criminal defense attorney immediately.  


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Last Modified: 01-26-2011 04:40 PM PST

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