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Bite The Bullet

Making Airsoft Safer (2005-02-01)

What do you do when you and your friends are playing airsoft, and run into police officers? Across the world, there have been many reported cases of where police officers and military personel mistakenly shoot and kill airsoft gun wielding civilians due to unfortunate circumstances. If this does not seem possible, then read this article. It just might save your life someday.

I would like to just remind everyone to keep airsoft safe in your Area. I would like to share a story...which happened about 15 minutes ago for me.

It was a Saturday night and Me and my co commander wanted to have a scrim. We decided to do it tonight so we got together and set up at his house. We were supposed to try someone out for the team that day but he didn't show up untill about half an hour later. So we went back for him, and fixed his gun (apparantly the fuse..) So finally..we were out to the woods at 6 o clock. By then it was dark and started to snow so we decided to just have a quick game. We got set up, and just as we started, we heard a chopper nearby, "oh it's just a commercial chopper going through" Oh how we were wrong....

We decided it was best to just go home. We were freaked by the circling helicopter, and it was just too cold to think! So we got out the woods and were walking down a street and a cop car swivels into our view, blinding us with his spotlight. the chopper was still swiviling around us. We three just stopped and looked at each other, the same thing going through our heads "oh shit..busted" We drop our guns as the hil in front turns into cop country. The cops tells us to turn around, put our hands on our heads, and get down on our knees. He drops us onto our faces and cuffs us. We comply, making things easier by cooperating. He searches us, finds that the guns we use are only airsoft. By that time, 9 cops are there, getting our names, address, phone numbers...etc etc. We were lucky that time to get off with no charges.

Remember guys, airsoft is a hobby, but not one worth your life. Play it safe and play where there are no people and where you guys are out of sight. If a cop does so much happen to come toward you with his gun drawn, immediatly drop your gun, and raise your hands. Be safe rather than sorry!



I just read the safety tip (article posted above by Ghoul) concerning law enforcement and the possibility of having an airsoft gun mistaken for a real one. Good tip. I was a police officer for 6 years in both large urban and rural environments. Even firearms enthusiasts are mostly un-aware that airsoft guns even exist and the high quality ones (especially the metal versions) can be mistaken for the real thing even upon being picked up.

As a kid I loved playing paintball and airsoft but being from a highly populated city it never took too long before the good citizens called the police because ?it just looked wrong.? If a citizen witnesses a skirmish in progress where dummy sound suppressors are in use they may even call in a ?shooting in progress? and you would be looking at every officer within a several mile radius pointing their real M-4 carbines and Glock 22?s at you.

Expect that they will have never heard of airsoft or airsoft guns, and please know that they will be extremely on edge. If confronted by the police,
- remain calm
- make no sudden movements
- drop your airsoft guns (if they are on a tactical sling slung to your chest, do not attempt to remove the weapon, just let it hang there on your chest and raise your hands)
- do not argue with the officers
- comply with any order they give
- do not try to explain yourself until they (the police) are satisfied they are in no danger
- do not try to hide or run away

This may sound silly but remember that the police will think you have real guns and will be using deadly force if they see you even begin to point a weapon at one of them or at each-other. In most cities an airsoft gun will be considered an airgun (BB gun, pellet gun, etc.) which they will have a city ordnance against being discharged within city limits. If they do, the fine will (or should) not be too much.

Also just because you are dressed head to toe in camo or a ghillie suit do not continue to hide if the police arrive and begin snatching up team-mates. Suddenly appearing out of nowhere will definitely freak them out J so announce that you are un-armed and are coming out. In addition they may have a helicopter with FLIR (forward looking infra-red) and can find you anyway or they may use K-9's and you will get bitten and charged with obstructing governmental operations to boot. I wouldn't really charge anyone were I to interrupt a game of airsoft in progress should the teams comply with all my lawful commands, but if I knew someone was hiding or ran when I ordered them to do otherwise, they are going to jail.

Also it may be possible to call your local law enforcement agency and let them know that you are having a game in a certain area. (Provided you are not trespassing on that property or something.) That way they can ignore any citizen complaints about a "shootout" and the like. In addition there may be officers like me who are interested and may want to play in the future, and having a team-mate on your local police dept. can't hurt. My first city I worked for had a SWAT team training exercise where they were looking for volunteers to train against (mostly CQB stuff) and perhaps they will have a similar deal you're your team can try their hand against a real SWAT team. (Though you'll most likely be forced to use Simmunitions), still, the experience and training would be well worth it. I hope that this little bit of info on how to interact with law-enforcement will help.

- Thanks go to Officer Andrew Cain (USA) for this information

AUG 25, 2005: And for some who still don't get it - 17 year old youth brandishes airsoft gun in public


I just wanted to send in my experience in this regard. I live in the US (Pennsylvania to be specific) and the first thing we did when we wanted to play was call up the police department. Where we were there is an ordinance against firing projectile weapons and we were told that if a judge decided that these qualified, we'd be fined and they'd be taken away. They wouldn't come after us specifically for having or shooting them though, as the ordinance did not specifically cover airsoft guns. I think this is important because I would not want $500 of gear confiscated.

The police department was very pleasant about it. We played in a park that was particularly lacking in people. There was an officer there and he said if anything came over the radio, he'd explain it. We were suprised to find, however, that a number of people really thought we were out there 100 feet away from a police car shooting at each other with assault rifles. That brings me to my second important point. We were told that if someone calls in and reports it, the dispatch goes out as shots fired, regardless of if it's thought to be real or toy guns.

One officer told us of a "shots fired" dispatch where kids were shooting each other with purple dart guns. Obviously, the officers on the scene were under the impression that the guns were real until they got there.

So, there's why you should take this seriously. 1) Getting your things confiscated would be horribly expensive. 2) People will call in shots fired for the most rediculous stuff and the police will show up under the assumption that you're really shooting assault rifles at each other. Best bet, in my opinion, is get ahold of the patrolman on duty where you want to play if it's even remotely public, or even if it's in the woods behind your house and let them know you're going to do it.

Thanks for Daniel Lynn from Pennsylvania for this suggestion.