Q326: Do I need a certificate for an air weapon?
It is an offence to possess, purchase or acquire a firearm without holding a relevant firearm certificate at the time. A firearm for the purpose of requiring a certificate means:
- a lethal barrelled weapon (a barrelled weapon from which a shot, bullet or other missile, with kinetic energy of more than one joule at the muzzle of the weapon, can be discharged);
- a prohibited weapon;
- relevant component part in relation to a lethal barrelled weapon or a prohibited weapon;
- an accessory to a lethal barrelled weapon or a prohibited weapon where the accessory is designed or adapted to diminish the noise or flash caused by firing the weapon.
There is an exception to the requirement to hold a firearms certificate in relation to airsoft guns. An airsoft gun means a barrelled weapon which:
- is designed to discharge only a small plastic missile (whether or not it is also capable of discharging any other kind of missile), and
- is not capable of discharging a missile (of any kind) with kinetic energy at the muzzle of the weapon that exceeds the permitted level.
A small plastic missile for the purposes of this exemption means a missile that is made wholly or partly from plastics, is spherical, and does not exceed 8mm in diameter.
The permitted level referred to above is:
- in the case of a weapon which is capable of discharging two or more missiles successively without repeated pressure on the trigger, 1.3 joules;
- in any other case, 2.5 joules.
As long as the air weapon fits within the exemption above, you will not require a certificate for it. If in doubt contact your local force's firearms licensing department.
Please note that all calls to police involving firearms are treated as if it is a genuine firearm so be aware that if you do wave an imitation firearm around you could find yourself surrounded by firearms officers pointing real weapons at you.