Amendment will not push for registration of airsoft guns

Photo: Czech Television

A proposed amendment on the holding of firearms in the Czech Republic will not require consumers to register airsoft pistols or rifles in the near future. Some had hoped the sale of airsoft guns – which are often almost perfect replicas of existing weapons – should also be regulated, not least given how often they are used in armed robberies.

Photo: Czech Television
An airsoft pistol, if used properly, should not prove dangerous or put anyone at risk. Still, the possibility of injury can never be ruled out. In its report on Sunday public broadcaster Czech TV referred to a youtube video to show how a BB – a small 6 mm pellet fired in air guns – penetrated two tin cans at short range.

In another case, in which an airsoft was apparently misused, the pellet penetrated a young man’s upper lip.

Ondřej Dušek is an armourer and shooting instructor for the Czech Army:

“Even an accidental death cannot be ruled out although that is very, very unlucky. But you wouldn’t want to lose an eye, either.”

Ondřej Dušek, photo: Czech Television
Unlike the holders of real firearms, airsoft buyers in the Czech Republic are not required to register their gun. By contrast, Slovakia’s government tightened restrictions just recently. There, law enforcement should be able to keep a better track of who owns not only regular firearms but airsoft pistols. Motivation for such a step in the Czech Republic could be how often near-perfect replicas are apparently used in bank or gas station hold-ups. While airsoft guns ship out with an orange tip on the muzzle to differentiate them from the real thing, anyone wishing to remove it can do so without much difficulty, making possible the replicas’ use in real crimes.

What makes them even more convincing? Airsofts are weighted by manufacturers to appear and even feel as close to the real thing as possible. An airsoft pistol, meanwhile, can be bought for around 3,000 crowns; all one needs is ID showing the age of at least 18. Armourer Ondřej Dušek again:

“You basically cannot tell the difference between replicas and firearms which use bullets.”

Jan Čížkovský, photo: Czech Television
According to Czech TV, police in the East Bohemian town of Hradec Králové estimate that airsoft replicas are used in nine out of 10 hold ups in the region. Of course, the law does not differentiate between real guns and fakes in armed robberies. Asked about one local gas-station hold-up, police spokesman Jan Čížkovský said this:

“Even though the weapon he used was an airsoft, [the perpetrator] faces up to 10 years in jail…”

He repeated that the use of airsoft guns in hold-ups is fairly common. Given how easy it is to acquire near-perfect replicas of real guns, experts say, that is unlikely to change.