Ask LH: Can I Legally Use Airsoft Guns If I Modify Them To Look Like Toys?

Dear Lifehacker, I’ve been trying to find info on Airsoft and realistic firearm laws in Australia. My question is, if I were to custom make an Airsoft gun that didn’t bear resemblance to an actual gun, what would happen? My intended design would make it look similar to a paintball marker and wouldn’t fool anybody into thinking it was real. Will I still get fined? Thanks, Davon

Dear Davon,

Any gun replica that could be reasonably mistaken for the real thing is legally classified as an imitation firearm in Australia. This includes toys, ornaments, video game peripherals and — yes — Airsoft products. Unlawful possession of Airsoft guns can result in prosecution for weapons related offences and very stiff fines.

So does this mean you’re in the clear if your Airsoft gun has been modified to look more toy-like? Unfortunately not. There are various laws that prohibit the use and importation of Airsoft in most Australian states and territories. Making modifications to tone down the resemblance to a real gun won’t get you off the hook.

For example, in Victoria you can’t import Airsoft guns due to there being no official airsoft firing ranges, whereas Tasmania has banned them on the grounds that their use constitutes a “simulated military exercise” which is heavily restricted under Tasmanian law. In NSW, Airsoft is regulated under the Firearms Act 1996: despite being entirely non-lethal, they are classified as firearms and cannot be owned without a corresponding licence for any reason.

In addition to the above, many Airsoft models are banned outright in all states and territories regardless of the circumstances. This includes Airsoft guns with folding or detachable stocks, Airsoft guns capable of fully automatic fire and Airsoft guns that outwardly resemble a sub-machine gun or machine pistol. (All the fun stuff, basically.)

It’s not just Airsoft that has fallen afoul of Australia’s gun and safety laws either: even obvious children’s toys have been banned from sale over here. Last year, the fluro-coloured, all-plastic Nerf Rival blasters failed to pass the safety standards required for Australia despite being freely sold in toy shops the world over. Tch.

To lawfully enjoy your modified Airsoft gun, you’ll need to apply for a real firearms licence. No, really. If you’re looking to import new models, you’ll also need to fill out a Police Confirmation and Certification Form from the relevant state or territory. Best of luck!


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