Hey Lifehacker, I was wondering: are airsoft guns illegal in Australia? Nerf guns just don't shoot far enough and don't look nearly as cool — something about a bendable foamy cylinder to the arm takes the realism out of a firefight. Since I don't think there is a 'proper' Australian retailer for airsoft guns, is it legal to import them? Thanks, Kid At Heart
Photo: Airsoft Atlanta
For those readers who aren't in the know, airsoft guns are realistic replica firearms that shoot plastic pellets via compressed air or electric/spring-driven pistons. They are chiefly used in the recreational sport of the same name, which shares many similarities to paintball. Now, onto the question.
Sorry Kid, but you're out of luck. Australia has very strict laws when it comes to realistic toy guns and replica firearms. Hell, even obviously plastic video game peripherals have been known to cause issues. (Older readers may recall Namco's 'GunCon' pistol for the PlayStation 1 console. It was finished in matte black in most territories, whereas we got a garish fluro-orange version.)
Laws vary from state to state when it comes to airsoft guns, but at the very least you'll need to apply for a firearms license and fill out an Australian Customs' B709 Importation of Firearms certification form.
Even then, most states won't allow anyone to own or import airsoft guns for any reason. For example, in Victoria police will not issue authorisation for their importation because there are no officially approved firing ranges, which means there is no genuine reason to own one. Likewise, Tasmania has banned them on the grounds that their use constitutes a simulated military exercise which is heavily restricted under Tasmanian law.
In addition to this, certain airsoft models are banned outright in all states and territories. This includes guns with folding or detachable stocks, guns capable of fully automatic fire and guns that outwardly resemble a sub-machine gun or machine pistol — all the fun stuff, basically. Oddly, many of these models are categorised as real, prohibited firearms despite having no lethal capability.
As far as we can tell, the Northern Territory appears to be the only place in Australia where the rules are somewhat relaxed. It's perfectly legal to own an airsoft gun there, although you'll still need the correct firearms licence.
In other words, your options are twofold: either move to the NT or learn to love Nerf.
That said, there are currently various campaigns afoot which are attempting to change Australian legislation as it relates to airsoft guns. Pay a visit to the Australian Airsoft Council if you'd like to get involved.
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