Four Reasons to Stop the Airsoft Ban in Bill C-21: Research on Airsoft Safety

Stated purpose of the legislation:

On February 16th, 2021, BILL C-21, “An Act to amend certain Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (firearms)” was introduced.[12] While the proposed changes are to “combat intimate partner and gender-based violence and self-harm involving firearms, fight gun smuggling and trafficking, help municipalities create safer communities, give young people the opportunities and resources they need to resist lives of crime, protect Canadians from gun violence, and subject owners of firearms prohibited on May 1, 2020 to non-permissive storage requirements, should they choose not to participate in the buyback program,” it also aims to change the criminal code on airsoft guns (known as uncontrolled firearms or “mid velocity replicas”).[13]

An airsoft ban does not fulfill the stated purpose of the legislation for these reasons:

  • Airsoft guns have not been found to be involved in intimate partner and gender-based violence.
  • They have not been found to be involved in self-harm, probably because they are harmless.
  • They are not smuggled or trafficked because they are not real guns, and they are not currently against the law.
  • They do not threaten safe communities because they cannot cause the serious injuries that guns do.
  • They actually DO give young people the opportunities and resources they need to resist lives of crime because they give young men a way to socialize and yet also release aggressive impulses in a safe, organized, and civilized way.
  • Airsoft guns protect Canadians from gun violence because they are not violent weapons. In the extremely rare cases when they have been used to threaten people, those threatened were in fact protected from violence because there was no actual threat of bodily harm.
  1. The Sport of Airsoft and Many Canadian Businesses Will Be Destroyed

Rick Rutherford is the secretary treasurer of the Airsoft Discipline at the Victoria Fish and Game Protective Association.

“The short story for the community is, it likely means the end of airsoft as a sport,” said Rutherford.

Replica airguns and many paintball guns will be banned under the bill because they fall under the new definition of replica firearms.

“Almost all air guns, airsoft guns included, will be caught up by this change in definition of a replica,” said Rutherford. 

Experts estimate that 50-80 Canadian businesses will be destroyed, with 800-1000 employees out of a job.

  • The Airsoft Industry and Canadian Business Owners Were Not Consulted

Bill C-21, if passed as written, will basically wipe out the hobby, say Andrew Mitchell and Keegan Tennant, who operate Nipissing Airsoft.

Replica airguns and many paintball guns will be banned under the bill because they fall under the new definition of replica firearms. Airsoft enthusiasts use the low-power guns to fire lightweight plastic pellets in organized games

The worst part, Mitchell and Tennant say, is no one who wrote the legislation sought any input from any of the manufacturers, vendors, or airsoft field operators.

“That’s our biggest issue with it,” Mitchell says. “They are targeting us, but they didn’t reach out to us and say ‘This is what you need to do to fix this.’ We were blindsided by it.”

The legislation, according to the Department of Justice, targets the “unregulated airguns” category which is currently exempt from regulation or prohibition. These are airguns that fire projectiles at a velocity of between 366 and 500 feet per second and which resemble conventional regulated firearms.

The legislation, Mitchell says, will cover the airguns in the “grey area” when it comes to muzzle velocities. He says probably about 90 per cent of the airguns which shoot projectiles between 366 and 500 feet per second “look like real guns.”

But, he says, it would be impossible to convert an air gun to a firearm, both because it would be impossible to switch out the parts and because airguns are not built to handle the internal pressure of firing a bullet.

“You would fire one shot and it would blow up,” Mitchell says.

  • Researchers conclude that there is no link between gunplay and violence

“Everyone has an informal causation theory that playing with guns leads to the use of guns in adulthood,” says Michael Thompson, PhD, child psychologist and author of It’s a Boy! Your Son’s Development From Birth to Age 18. Yet, most adult men who did engage in gunplay as children don’t commit violent crimes.

Opinions about the impact of gunplay vary widely, but the research, according to Thompson, is clear: “There’s no scientific evidence suggesting that playing war games in childhood leads to real-life aggression.”

According to Michael Thompson, a psychologist and co-author of “Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys,” when a child says they understand the distinction between fantasy gun play and real-life gun use, believe them.

“I understand why parents get upset by these games, but it is play, and play does not lead to lethal aggression. Play … is consensual. Aggression is hurtful and produces injury in the person. Play doesn’t produce any of that,” he said.

Real vs. play

Thompson said that boys are drawn to the notion of the heroic and that such play allows them to see themselves as the guy – and, yes, for most of history, they have mostly been guys – who combats evil and saves the day. As long as this interest in violence as a problem-solving tool is limited to the fantasy realm, parents and teachers shouldn’t be concerned. In fact, researchers have found that aggressive play can actually lead to less aggressive and more prosocial behavior in real life, because it gives children a chance to act out their impulses in a safe setting.

“Worry about boys who have impulse control problems, who start to get overexcited and hit other boys over the head. But don’t treat all boys” like they have that problem, Thompson said.

If a boy turns to violence as a way to solve real-world problems or maintains a Manichean worldview when he is not playing, Thompson said, parents should seek help. But as long this behavior is confined to playtime, they shouldn’t be concerned.

“When it’s real-world conflict, you can introduce moral relativism,” Thompson said, explaining that boys’ fantasy lives are no place for lessons on subjectivity and humanizing the other.

  • Airsoft is Legal in Most of the World
Worldwide Map of airsoft legality. Source Airsoft Sydney (

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