Our recent blog about the changes to the UK’s airsoft laws (link to ‘everything players need to know’ blog), we covered everything that players need to know about the new laws. Whilst it’s important that retailers know this (we suggest you go read it now if you haven’t), there’s a couple of things that we haven’t mentioned that retailers should be specifically aware of.
Here’s a quick run-down of the UK’s new (2017) airsoft laws.
Airsoft guns, regardless of their power source, are not classed as firearms if they are designed to fire a plastic spherical projectile, no larger than 8mm with muzzle energy no greater than 1.3 joules (full auto capable weapons) or 2.5 joules (single shot weapons).
Any weapons that fall outside of these classifications can potentially be classed as Section 5 Fire Arms.
What does this mean for retailers?
Retailers now must be incredibly careful when dealing with imitation firearms within the UK. The import/export, storage and selling of firearms is closely monitored in our country. Businesses and individuals found to be operating with firearms, without the proper documentation will be held to the full extent of the law.
Now with airsoft guns clearly defined in law, businesses can very easily (if they’re not careful) find themselves ‘importing firearms’ without even knowing it, ‘storing firearms’ incorrectly and ‘dealing firearms’ to people without correct documentation. Especially when we consider that a huge number of airsoft weapons leave the factory firing at a high fps.
Anyone dealing with firearms in the UK must jump through numerous hoops to ensure that they are compliant. If you are regularly importing airsoft weapons, even if they are not over the muzzle energy limits, it’s worthwhile for you to contact the police and discuss what you must do to ensure you are not accidentally caught out.
What about Retailers selling into the UK?
Retailers that frequently sell to the UK, to other businesses or to players, are best off ensuring that all imitation firearms imported into the country are compliant.
It may be hard work, but guaranteeing that any RIFs purchased from outside the UK will be within expected limits upon import is a great way of providing value and peace of mind to your customers.
Whilst it’s not certain if there will be any legal repercussions to businesses outside of the UK that are ‘caught’ importing firearms, it’s safe to say that it’s something business should look to avoid. Future shipments are certain to be heavily scrutinised and delayed, not to mention the damage to the reputation of your business.
There is still a large amount of unknown information regarding the latest laws. For instance, a retailer must be registered as a firearms dealer (RFD) if they are importing, storing and selling firearms and ammunition. With an airsoft gun’s potential to be classed as a firearm, does this mean that BBs (in extreme cases, we hope) could be classed alongside other lethal ammunition? It remains to be seen.
What is certain, however, is that business must now be as vigilant as ever. Ensure that all current stock is within airsoft limits. Ensure that any future imports are tested for compliance before landing in the UK. Speak to your local police authority to understand if there are any changes to your requirements as a retailer and what you should do to protect your business against any potential “firearm accidents”.
Are you a smirmisher not a retailer?