Michigan moves to loosen airsoft laws
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder last month signed a package of seven laws, collectively dubbed the "Air Gun Reclassification Package," which included a number of reforms to how the state regulates airsoft.
The six House bills, introduced in February, passed that body in an average 80-29 vote then proceeded to the state Senate where they were embraced in a 30-7 roll call in late April. Snyder, who vetoed a set of airsoft reform bills last session, signed all six into law on May 12, taking affect immediately. A separate Senate bill took a similar route.
"These measures address the confusion that has arisen over Michigan's varying definitions of firearms," Snyder said in his statement upon signing the legislation. "The bills were overwhelmingly supported in both the House and Senate, and will give sportsmen and other residents the clarity they have sought on this issue."
Termed by some as the 'Air Gun 6-Pack,' the proposals, House Bills 4151, 4152, 4153, 4154, 4155 and 4156 (with a 7th bill bonus Senate Bill 85) are now Public Acts 21-29 of 2015.
Under Michigan state law prior to the package being signed, most air-powered guns to include pellet guns and airsoft actually qualified as firearms. Meaning that, as far as the law was concerned in many instances, a $19 spring-loaded 1911-style import 6mm was regulated the same as an actual .45ACP 1911 real steel handgun. This put most common airsoft guns out of the hands of those under 18, just one of four states who classified guns in such a way.
The new laws change this to closer comply with those across the country.
"This important legislative package seeks to achieve pragmatic and much-needed reform by redefining the term 'firearm' in the Michigan Code to exclude devices that propel a projectile by gas, spring or air," reads an alert on the legislation from the National Rifle Association, who backed the measures. "The goal of this package is to relieve Michiganders, and those seeking to engage in interstate commerce with Michigan residents, from outdated and unduly burdensome restraints on the transfer, purchase, and possession of most air guns."
The legislation was opposed by Democrats who contended that, if Michigan relaxed its laws on the transfer, purchase, and possession of airsoft guns by minors unaccompanied by adults, it would end up with incidents of kids faced with disaster.
"I think the safety of children in this state is paramount," said Sen. Steve Bieda, D-Warren, as reported by MLive. "I think this is something that we should take a really hard look at of whether or not we want a 10-year-old to walk around with a BB gun or an air gun that may look like a real gun."
The new laws were effective upon Snyder's signature.