No matter what we do as responsible airsofters, the policing of ourselves and the safety issues we all adhere to, there are always going to be people who for whatever reason, feel they dont need to follow the rules. Whatever way you look at it...it is those persons who are giving our sport the publicity that is not beneficial to any of us.
Setting an age to purchase and use airsoft as Greylocks has mentioned I would totally agree with. Maybe not a popular thing to do but are we here to get voted into office, or are we here to keep the sport we play and enjoy going?.....if we dont police the sport ourselves.....when it comes to the law makers, maybe they wont be as sympathetic and look at it from the side of public safety, banning all of it outright.
Another aspect of all of this is the media. Stories can be pretty much spun in anyway they see fit, in order to get "ratings" and/or to sell more issues. "The sky is falling" and airsoft is the cause.
One thing I do want to do in the future is invite a representative from the local paper to do an article of what airsoft really is, showing them especially how seriously we take issues concerning safety and gun ownership. Given where our club's new home ground will be located, it should send a positive message to the public how serious we are.
I have personally tried to sit down with the local Police to educate them of what the responsible airsoft players do. They didnt want to know so far. I am sure in the future I will have better luck. It will just take time.
I feel education is the key, while backing that with laws that would work for the benefit of us as players and the public as a whole.
While not reading/having seen the article from the Markham paper, has any local responsible airsoft groups contacted the paper and talked with them regarding airsoft???