Last Monday Boston Mayor Martin Walsh signed a local ordinance backed by community leaders and the Boston Police Department that will now make it a crime to have a replica handgun in public to include pellet guns, paintball, and airsoft.
The move comes as BPD contends they have picked up 150 replicas off the street in association with crime in recent months. However, the Department, who chronicles seemingly every gun impounded on their official Facebook page only has one air gun, an Umarex .177 cal BB pistol resembling a Beretta PX4 confiscated in July from 4 juvenile males at an area playground, listed.
"We all too often encounter young people who are carrying these fake guns and even though they are fake, the public and police don't know they are," said Boston Police Commissioner William Evans in a statement obtained by Airsoft Society. "Our goal is to make the city the safest place it can be and this ordinance will help remind the public and residents of the dangers these replica guns present."
The ordinance, passed by the city council with bipartisan support, allows authorities to confiscate replicas and, using caretaker statutes in the state, retain custody of the gun until the owner comes and picks it back up from the local precinct. As guns cannot be reclaimed by anyone under 18, the law is aimed primarily at minors found with replica guns although any can be confiscated if encountered in a public area such as a city street, easement, park or recreation area.
State Rep. Dan Cullinane, a Suffolk Democrat who has filed legislation lowering the boom on replica guns across the Commonwealth at the State House, praised Boston's efforts, saying. "It is unnecessary and irresponsible for manufacturers and retailers to make and sell imitation guns which by sight cannot be differentiated from a real gun."
Cullinane wants all airguns and other replicas in Massachusetts marked with a non-removable, 1-inch bright orange stripe.
Rep. Cullinane told 22News, "Twelve other states, including New York two years ago, filed legislation which mandates a one-inch orange strip visible from every angle, all the way around the gun to show that this isn't an actual bullet-firing weapon."
Alas, Massachusetts is not the only jurisdiction cracking down on airsoft.
As reported by WTVA in Mississippi, West Point Police Chief Tim Brinkley is authorizing his officers to confiscate "air pistols, shotguns, and rifles that look real."
Why? Brinkley says the fakes must be taken seriously by officers approaching people who have them. Local gun rights advocates in Mississippi contend, however, that Brinkley is out of bounds.
"Chief Brinkley has no authority to confiscate toys unless the person possessing it 'uses or attempts to use against another person. . .' Mississippi laws 97-37-1(1) says 'Uses against another', so unless the individual is making threats and trying to convince someone the toy gun is a real gun the chief has no authority to confiscate a toy gun," writes Dana Criswell of Mississippi Gun News.
And the beat goes on.
If you are into airsoft and milsim, get involved in your local politics before they get involved in your sport.