NEWS | Jan. 17, 2012

Airsoft guns: Real or fake?

By 628th Security Forces Squadron

Recently, police officers fired upon and killed a 15-year-old boy in Texas who was brandishing a pellet gun that looked like a real one. The teenager was told several times to put down the weapon but refused to listen to the instructions given by the police. Officers had to open fire in response to what they thought was a legitimate threat from an individual with a real weapon. Sadly, the student was holding a toy gun.

How could the police mistake a toy gun for a real one?

A firearm is defined as "any weapon designed to expel a projectile through a barrel by the action of a propellant, or one that you can readily convert to this purpose. The frame or receiver group of any such weapon, any firearm muffler or silencer and starter guns are considered firearms." Airsoft guns are included in this definition.

If you are not familiar with Airsoft guns, they are realistic replica firearms that fire plastic pellets (also known as BBs) for recreational use or for shooting small game. They can be operated by manually pumped air compression or cycled by compressed gas, spring action or an electric motor pulling a piston.

Many of the best-selling Airsoft weapons are high detailed replicas of real lethal weapons and are manufactured and designed by companies headquartered in Asian countries or territories. Airsoft guns are often equipped with an orange tip at the muzzle to designate them as "fake" weapons but it is also common for owners to cover this orange tip with black electrical tape to enhance the gun's realistic appearance.

Incidents involving Airsoft guns are easily avoided and there are measures in place on Joint Base Charleston to ensure the safety of all residents and workers.

Airsoft guns are legal on JB Charleston, however they are not allowed in the dorms. Also, individuals are not authorized to fire Airsoft guns at any location on JB Charleston except at the Skeet Range.

Remember, in order to sufficiently protect our personnel and resources Security Forces members are required to treat all weapons as if they are lethal until determined otherwise.

If you have any questions regarding the use or ownership of Airsoft guns, call the Security Forces Squadron at 963-3600.