Air Gun Rights

This weekend we invited a friend who lives in Philadelphia to our air silhouette match, but unfortunately he doesn’t have an air gun. Actually, he can’t have an air gun because of Section 10-180, subsection 3 of the Philadelphia Code:

No person shall sell, offer for sale at retail, or use, or possess with intent to use, any air gun, spring gun, or any implement not a firearm which forcefully impels a pellet of any kind.

Worthwhile to note that statewide preemption does not apply to air guns, meaning if you take an air gun through Philadelphia, you’re liable for a 300 dollar fine and up to 90 days in jail, including the confiscation of the air gun.  In fact, the Uniform Firearms Act specifically allows local communities to regulate air guns, and many do. Pittsburgh doesn’t outright prohibit air guns, but does make it unlawful to discharge one at a home range if you had one set up in your basement.

But I think there’s a good argument to be made that the right to keep and bear arms necessarily has to include the right to practice with them, and for those living in more dense urban and suburban areas, an air gun might be the only viable means of regular practice. This is something Dave Kopel has alluded to previously. Once we get incorporation, Philadelphia’s law might be a good one to challenge, especially since the absurdity of being able to legally possess a fully-automatic M16 within the city limits, but being unable to buy or possess an air gun version of the same.

7 Responses to “Air Gun Rights”

  1. Bob S. says:

    Looks like even the spring versions of Air Soft guns would be prohibited.

    I use one to practice drawing from my concealed holster, makes it very clear when your finger is on the trigger when it should be, etc.

    Shame that people put up with giving away their rights like that.

  2. JB says:

    Seems that definition would encompass all the nail guns used by building contractors and sold at Home Depot, etc.

  3. It’s little known, but in in 1996 (or thereabouts), the Federal government enacted a law providing for Federal preemption of state and local laws regulating the sale of airguns. IIRC, we can thank Bob Dole for this.

    See 15 U.S.C. Section 5001(g).—-000-.html

  4. Joe Huffman says:

    Seattle prohibits the carry of even unloaded air guns and slingshots in public places.

    I could open carry an AR-15 though (I might have a long chat with officer friendly but I would be entirely legal). Concealed carry of pistols is legal with very easy to get concealed pistol license.

  5. Greg Palmer says:

    Laws like that would stop our daily lunchtime activity of throwing some lead downrange via air guns. Too much time in the office without fresh air destroys creativity and who wants to sit in the office at lunch time?

  6. FatWhiteMan says:

    I’m not entirely sold on this notion yet but I have had my doubts in trying to include airguns and firearms under the same laws in any way. If we begin arguing that airguns should enjoy the same status as firearms under the law, I think it would be a short leap the other way as well. How long before antis then begin to campaign for laws that restrict firearms but then argue that they are not restricting all firearms, just some of them and that your rights are not infringed. You can hunt with your airgun, you can certainly target practice with your airgun–they do that at your local range and even have organized matches. You can even carry your airgun for protection. After all, they are not banning all guns–just a certain class of guns, you can still buy your airguns. Just go fill out your 4473 to get your airgun….

  7. Ian Argent says:

    In NJ, airguns, spring guns, etc discharging a projectile smaller than 3/8 inches in diameter with sufficient force to injure are firearms. Oddly I can buy a spring-fired airsoft (or an AEG type) at Dicks in NJ, but not a green-gas model with a lower fps… (gotta go to a specialty store for that). Their website will ship neither to NJ, though again specialty vendors appear to.

    I want a gas model because the spring-gun has caused a terrible habit – that of racking the slide after each shot