California has some specific airsoft gun laws and you should be informed in order to stay safe. If you plan to play any kind of airsoft game in California, you should know that as long as there are available official airsoft fields, you are free to enjoy airsoft for as much as you want.
However, there is the law regarding minors and public use of airsoft guns on the state law, so I will mention what I have managed to find through researching the California law regarding airsoft guns.
I also want to state that I am not a lawyer, so I can not provide you with legal advice and this is my mere opinion based on the research that I have done.
I can, however, share best practices that will keep you out of trouble because often, they are quite universal.
What I want you to know is that the law sometimes changes, so It is good to stay updated by making additional research from other sources just to be sure.
I include the official California law site here, so you can find more on the law there and check the facts.
Are airsoft guns legal in California?
Airsoft guns are legal in California, however, they must be colored in bright colors along with the orange tip at the top of the gun. Minors under the age of 18 are also forbidden to use or buy airsoft guns without the supervision of a parent or legal guardian.
You can purchase airsoft guns in stores in California, but you must not remove any marking or coloring from the airsoft gun if you want to continue to use it legally.
This means that some airsoft guns that are bought abroad may not be appropriate for use in California if they do not follow the prescribed colorings and markings.
Another important thing to mention is that all airsoft guns that are not properly colored and marked are considered „imitation firearms“ because they resemble real guns to the extent that citizens and law enforcement may become suspicious and react accordingly.
If you have planned to play airsoft in your backyard in California check my tips on it once you have fully understood the California state law.
Airsoft guns that contain the following colors are not „imitation firearms“
- Bright Purple
- Bright Orange
- Bright red
- Bright Pink
- Bright Blue
If the entire airsoft gun’s exterior is not matching these colors (it can be one color or a combination of these with one predominant color), then you should be aware of the following:
Do not carry it or display in public
Do not trade, ship or display one for such purposes
If you do not comply with the law,
There are fines that may get substantially increased with each time you break the law and the confiscation of the airsoft gun may also take place, from my understanding.
Best practices to comply with the law in California
Treat airsoft guns like real stuff
You should always treat your airsoft gun the way you would treat the real gun. Sometimes people get to think that airsoft guns are just toys, but many people who are not familiar with them do not think so.
If you understand this you will be safe because there is nothing as good as some common sense in practice.
Do not carry airsoft guns near school premises
This should be common knowledge anywhere in the US, however, in California, there is some additional law that talks about the importance of safe zones near school premises.
This includes everything from school and college buildings to roadways and parks that are used for institutional purposes.
This is a quite sensitive topic these days, so bear this in mind.
Avoid carrying airsoft guns in public
California has built their laws around „imitation firearms“ so it can reduce the odds that someone will carry one in the public area and therefore cause panic or misunderstanding.
Similar laws are also found in New York where unmarked airsoft guns are forbidden anywhere in the public area.
This, of course, does not apply if the airsoft gun is colored, but what is the point of displaying it in public anyways when you are forbidden to discharge BBs.
Be careful how you transport them
If you choose to use public transport such as buses, trains, boats, taxies or planes be aware that passengers may get upset if you give them a reason to think that you have a gun, even if its packed and hidden, but can the shape can be still seen or you mention the words „airsoft guns“.
Traveling with airsoft guns requires some precautions, especially if you choose the plane.
The thing is that many people are not familiar with airsoft guns and they will only hear the word „ gun“ which may result in a massive hysteria.
Stay as incognito as possible and do not give away the shape of your airsoft guns, so carry them in regular bags and cases like you would carry groceries or clothes.
The same can be said for driving with airsoft guns, in my opinion, it is safest to keep them out of reach and safely packed.
A final word about the law
As you can see, when an airsoft gun is not properly marked it becomes an “imitation firearm”, so you can further research what the law says about it from official sources if you want to know more.
For more information regarding playing in airsoft fields and how players treat the regulations and comply with the law, you should reach out to them with questions.
I have only covered what I could interpret by reading the publicly available law sheets.
Have fun and stay smart!