“Though they are significantly less powerful than real firearms, non-powder guns such as BB or air guns can be deadly, and should be regulated as such.” -Giffords Law Center
Dear fellow air gun shooters,
Airguns are a confirmed target. The well-funded and infulential Anti-Gun advocacy group Giffords Law Center is openly calling for non-powder guns to be regulated in the same manner as firearms.(1) Referring to all airguns as Non-Powder, the group takes airguns and airgun toys from a talking point to a key legislative element being actively promoted to individual states in an attempt to subvert the task of re-defining firearms at the Federal level. Airgun toys were the stepping stone; “non-powder” is currently regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Pellet rifles were part of that argument and are now fixed on the anti-gun radar. The group is suggesting state legislatures pass FFL transfers, background checks and even a registry for airguns. Below are the points being pushed at the State level. Note a firearm registry is legally prohibited at the federal but still listed.
Directly From Giffords Law Center: (1)
“ KEY LEGISLATIVE ELEMENTS The features listed below are intended to provide a framework from which policy options may be considered. A jurisdiction considering new legislation should consult with counsel.
- Strict limits are imposed on the possession and sale of non-powder guns within the jurisdiction (New York City).
- If the sale and possession of non-powder guns are permitted within the jurisdiction, the most comprehensive approach is to define all non-powder guns as firearms, so that restrictions on purchase and possession by minors, people convicted of felonies, and other prohibited purchasers will apply (New Jersey, Rhode Island).
- Alternatively, with respect to high-power and large caliber non-powder guns only:
- All high-power and large caliber non-powder guns are defined as firearms, so that restrictions on purchase and possession by minors, people convicted of felonies, and other prohibited persons will apply (Illinois, Michigan).
- All transfers of high-power and large caliber non-powder guns are required to be made through a licensed firearms dealer, and the dealer is required to report all transfers to law enforcement.
- There is a registration mechanism for owners of high-power and large caliber non-powder guns.
- Minors are prohibited from possessing non-powder guns unless under direct adult supervision.”
Just because airguns are not in the Federal definition of firearms does not mean we are protected. It can be argued we are worse off because the fight is being brought to the state level, and we are losing the battle as some states have already adopted the Giffords’ model legislation that regards airguns as firearms.
The call to regulate airguns is not new but has shown new tactics in recent years with proposed legislations like HR 405, which calls for the definition of firearms to include compressed air and pellets to be considered ammunition. (2) This bill is masked as a Lead ammo ban on Federal lands, however the language used can be borrowed and inserted into other bills and proposed legislation, making it dangerous simply by being introduced on the House floor.
These are tactics against airguns that the airgun community is currently unprepared to fight effectively. As the industry value increases and airgun technology advances, the industry now more than ever needs a voice to represent what airgunners have built in the USA. We have done an amazing job self policing our community and because of this we are stronger than we realize. On public pages we call out ill intent, misuse or unethical hunting, we promote safe handling and operation of airguns and we are also sure to include safe use of high pressure air components. Because of our common love of airguns we have maintained a great public image, but image is not enough to defend what we all love.
While the 2nd Amendment is unarguably under attack, there are national groups that are defending the rights of firearm owners but airguns are left in the wind. There is The Airgun Sporting Association, but the group clearly represents the interests of manufacturers and retailers. (3) Per the mission statement: “The mission of the Airgun Sporting Association is to market, promote and serve individuals, companies and corporations involved in the manufacture, importation, wholesale and retail sales and distribution of airguns and related hunting and airgun sport shooting equipment, products, goods and services.
A primary focus of the Association will be the strengthening of relationships between the state wildlife agencies and representatives of the airgun industry. The Association’s work with the state wildlife agencies will target the development of regulations legalizing the use of big bore airguns for big game hunting. Also, the Association will work with state wildlife agencies to help clarify existing airgun regulations for small game hunting.”
This is a great mission statement and I support the efforts, but they are focused on addressing the hunting aspect of airguns and representing the retail and manufacturer sectors. This non-profit association has also not updated any news articles on their website since 2019 and the filings indicate Section C shows expenditures to political campaigns or lobbying expenses. (4) Please note this is not an attempt to discredit the ASA. Because they are a non-profit the filings are open and this is what the lobbyists see. These are well funded people trying to regulate all guns and no doubt they are doing their homework. The NRA has a rich history and well developed airgun program, but also only approaches airguns in an olympic style. (5) Neither is what we need in the current environment of airguns to stand up to a powerful lobby group with clear intentions to regulate airguns and nor do they represent the more current state of airgun sports, such as Field Target or the modern airgun shooter.
AAFTA is also unlikely to stand up for any airgun above 20 FPE. With the WFTF class being shot worldwide, this becomes more fuel for pro-regulation groups to encourage the UK, Canada, New Jersey, Delaware, etc adoption of powder restrictions on airguns. This is nothing against AAFTA either, it is just a fact that on the surface they have no standing argument for an airgun above 20 FPE. Again, just what the opposition sees. 4-H has a long-standing airgun program (6), as does the CMP (7)but are both geared towards 10m paper shooting and very low power. The irony of 4-H is they teach hunting with powder and archery but limit airguns to BB’s or 10m paper and put off by reactive targets. I question where 4-H would stand on airgun restrictions but with the olympic style of shooting they teach and the general opposition to reactive targets, they would likely have a non issue with restrictions either. The Civilian Marksman Program and air rifles in collegiate sports would also likely take a backseat considering the prevalence of .177 in their arena. So we are left with almost nothing to act as a public advocate for airguns above 20 FPE. And when all the opposition sees is 20 FPE or less, we are a veritable soft target for regulations. We need to be a hard target.
Legislative proposals and restrictions are issues and topics that, while political in nature, are vital to preserve the current state of airguns in the USA. What will we say to the next generation about the demise of airguns? That we all enjoyed the golden age of pneumatics but neglected to look ahead, that we were blindsided by regulations? I, for one, am making sure my son will grow up watching me fight for what I believe and defend the rights of fellow airgunners, many who I will never know.
To summarize, the proverbial elephant is on the range. Airguns are being regulated steadily, state by state and the efforts now have massive amounts of donations and connections (8,9) to propel the efforts faster than we ever expected. Some states will likely retain airguns as status quo, but many more may easily follow suit with NY, NY, DE, RI etc. if we don’t get in front of the fight ourselves.
After reaching out to our own Congressman Chip Roy regarding the dragnet tactics against airguns, we were immediately motivated by the Congressmans’ encouraging response and have taken action to do our part in the legislative process. We are now working with a D.C. based law group to form a non-profit airgun 2A advocacy group for all airgun enthusiasts and industry partners called The Air Gun Shooters Association of America. The aim is to provide resources and support at the state level to protect ALL air gun shooters 2A rights while informing the community and promoting the safe and responsible use of airguns. Overall we want to give airgun shooters a tool to be heard and have a say in the legislative processes and decision making, because the threat to airguns is very real and we cannot afford to continue to ignore the impending reality that we may be restricted, regulated or worse.
In the coming weeks I will be continuing my discussions with counsel and will be reaching out to all airgunners, industry partners, clubs, match directors with more detailed information and requests for interest in leadership positions. I am also asking for anyone who is seriously interested in assisting in these early efforts to please contact me ASAP to discuss.
Again, this is a non-profit effort and will be represented, managed and operated collectively. My company will be providing the domain, web hosting, webpage, secure email servers and other digital products.
For more information or to become a part of our non-profit, please contact SqrlHntr@AGSAA.net
Thanks for reading. May God bless Texas and all things airgun. Lord knows we need it now more than ever.