While it saddens us to hear about these various bills and new regulations, none so far have been quite as ridiculous as the proposed New Jersey State Senate bill, NJ S810. NJ S810 goes farther than pretty much all regulation of Airsoft guns in America has gone so far. According to the language of the bill, “This bill would clarify that ‘Airsoft’ guns constitute firearms and therefore are subject to this State’s strict laws regulating the sale, possession, and use of firearms.”
Indeed, the passage of this bill would mean that in the State of New Jersey, Airsoft guns would be considered firearms and treated as such. This would mean, among other things, that residents of New Jersey would need a permit to possess an Airsoft gun. You would need to be 18 to purchase Airsoft rifles, which is fairly standard, but you would also need to be 21 to purchase an Airsoft handgun.
As we all know, an Airsoft handgun is no more dangerous or deadly than an Airsoft rifle. An actual real steel handgun is more likely to be used with lethal consequences than a real steel shotgun or rifle. However, when applied to Airsoft guns, the same is not true. This is because an Airsoft gun is not a firearm. In fact, the bill admits in its own language that an Airsoft gun is not a firearm, and proposes to change the very definition of “firearm” to include Airsoft guns.
The bills’ statement claims that Airsoft guns are commonly sold without orange tips, which anyone involved in Airsoft knows not to be true. It goes on to cite the case 15 year-old Floridian Chris Penley, who was killed by police officers after brandishing an Airsoft gun in their direction. While this case was incredibly tragic, by no means should it lead to an array of new and ill informed legislation. The inclusion of Chris Penley’s fate is an obvious scare tactic, and the bill does not mention that residents of Florida must already be 18 to purchase Airsoft guns under current law.
I don’t live in New Jersey, and frankly it’s too cold so I probably won’t ever go there, but this bill could set a precedent that is followed across America until we all need to fill out permits, undergo background checks and submit to a waiting period every time we want to buy an AEG. Imagine the restrictions that will present themselves once a simple upgraded piston is now considered a firearm part. Besides, if I can enjoy my Airsoft worry-free, so should the good people of New Jersey.
There are a few ways to help. Concerned citizens have set up a Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/No-On-NJ-S810/347426451937271 with more information and ways you can help.
There is also an online petition located at http://www.change.org/petitions/new-jersey-state-senate-do-not-pass-nj-s810.
The language of the bill can be found at http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2010/Bills/S0500/454_I1.HTM.
This bill is being sponsored by Senator Bob Smith and Senator Nicholas P. Scutari of New Jersey. Their contact information can be found at http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/members/BIO.asp?Leg=53 and http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/members/BIO.asp?Leg=237, respectively.
Please help support Airsoft players in New Jersey and across the country by contacting these senators, signing the petition, and doing anything else possible to get involved. Remember to exercise polite conduct and always be a good representative of Airsoft. See ya on the field and at HobbyTron.com.