Understanding the legal status of BB guns and airsoft guns in New York City requires a dive into the New York City Administrative Code. The Code provides clarity, but also has a degree of complexity that anyone considering the possession or sale of these guns in NYC should be aware of.
New York City Administrative Code on Airsoft and BB Guns
According to the New York City Administrative Code 10-131(b), it is illegal for anyone to sell, offer to sell, or possess any air pistol, air rifle, or similar instruments where the propelling force is spring or air, without the necessary licensing. Specifically, the code states:
“It shall be unlawful for any person to sell, offer to sell or have in such person’s possession any air pistol or air rifle or similar instrument in which the propelling force is a spring or air…”
Furthermore, if an airsoft gun lacks bright neon coloring and can be mistaken for a real weapon, it can also lead to charges of possession of an imitation weapon. This offense is considered a misdemeanor under the New York City Administrative Code.
Differences Between NYC and New York State
It’s essential to note that the New York City Administrative Code applies strictly to the five boroughs of New York City. In contrast, outside the city limits, the New York State Penal Law governs, which doesn’t prohibit the possession of air pistols.
At times, constitutional issues arise in air pistol cases. This usually involves scenarios where the police may have conducted a search without having probable cause or a necessary warrant, leading to the discovery of the airsoft gun.
Are Airsoft Pistols Firearm?
There’s a grey area when defining if airsoft pistols are considered firearms. New York Penal Law does not provide a clear definition of firearms. It mentions “any pistol or revolver,” which could lead one to believe that an air pistol falls under this definition.
However, court cases such as People v. Schmidt and People v. Wilson have determined that air pistols are not firearms. Therefore, penalties for possession of airsoft and BB guns are generally lower than for traditional firearms.
New York City Restrictions
- New York City prohibits the sale or possession of any air pistol or air rifle without an appropriate license.
- Only licensed individuals can sell these weapons if they are delivered outside the city or to another licensee.
- Using air pistols and rifles is permitted for licensed amusements or at authorized shooting ranges.
- Dealers must maintain records of all sales and purchasers.
Key Legislative Elements
For those considering the nuances of the legislation, here are some of the primary legislative elements related to non-powder guns:
|Strict limits||Non-powder guns have strict limits on possession and sale within New York City.|
|Definition as firearms||In some jurisdictions, all non-powder guns are defined as firearms, bringing additional restrictions.|
|Transfers||Some states require transfers of high-power and large-caliber non-powder guns to be made through a licensed firearms dealer, with the dealer reporting all transfers.|
|Registration||Some places have a registration mechanism for high-power and large caliber non-powder guns owners.|
|Minor possession||Minors are usually prohibited from possessing non-powder guns unless under direct adult supervision.|
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can I own an airsoft or BB gun in New York City?
No, not without the appropriate licensing. The New York City Administrative Code prohibits the possession of airsoft guns, BB guns, and similar instruments unless you have obtained the required license.
2. Are airsoft pistols considered firearms under New York Penal Law?
While the New York Penal Law’s definition of “firearm” is somewhat vague, court cases such as People v. Schmidt and People v. Wilson have ruled that air pistols are not considered firearms. Thus, they don’t carry the same penalties as traditional firearms.
3. If I’m outside the five boroughs of NYC but still in New York State, can I possess an airsoft gun?
Yes. The regulations presented in the New York City Administrative Code only apply to the five boroughs of New York City. Outside these boroughs, the New York State Penal Law does not prohibit the possession of air pistols or BB guns.
The legal landscape surrounding BB and airsoft guns in New York City is intricate and multifaceted. Despite their seemingly harmless nature, these guns come with a set of strict rules and regulations within NYC. Those looking to possess, sell, or use these guns should be fully aware of the laws, particularly within the city’s boundaries. As with any legal matter, when in doubt, it’s always best to consult with a legal professional to ensure compliance and avoid potential legal ramifications.