not surprising as it is that confusion that continues to allow us to purchase airsoft guns and use then responsibly.
The fact is that every airsoft gun would likely be found to be a replica if tested in court.
However this would not mean that everyone who also possessed that particular model would aslo be in possession of a replica... unless their specific gun was also tested.
So you pretty much have to commit a crime with your guns to end up having a replica firearm definition stick.
The existing laws do not restrict possession of airsoft guns at all because airsoft guns are not defined under the law as replicas
The definition of if any particular thing is proscribed under the law is a point of law that can only be defined by a court. In the case of many firearms, they have been defined spacifically by make and model as restricted or prohibited, so their definition is established.. and no longer a point of law..but a point of fact.
Such is not the case with airsoft guns.. their definition as a class of items is a point of law, not fact.. in the eyes of the criminal court.
Of course the CBSA takes the position that all airsoft guns are replicas.. but again this does not in fact make it so.. it is an interpritation that has been tested in court in matters of importation of airsoft guns and does not affect their subsequent disposition.
So we are in the confused position of having a single object that upon importation is defined as a replica firearm... but at the moment that is comes into the possession of the importer sheads this status.. and is again undefined and remains so until again under the scrutiny of the law.. at which point it must again be defined by a court in a case by case basis.
So where does that put us as owners and purchasers?
Firmly in the so called "grey zone" Although our possession of these articles is 100% legal regarless of how we came into possession and when (as long as we are 18 and not under a possesson restriction) even if they are defined in our case as replicas. It is the
how we came into possession that could be tricky... as long as the airsoft gun remains undefined then no laws are broken.. once a gun becomes defined then everyone in the chain of possession has illegally transfered a prohibited device.
So here is the worst case scenario.
Importer A brings a gun in.. at the moment of import it is a replica. as CBSA says it is ( and has upheld enough challenges that importers agree to be bound by this definition despite it not applying as a class to all airsoft guns)
The retailer subsequently sells the gun as "an airsoft gun" to an individual who now possesses the gun legally. This person then sells the gun to a stranger.. who uses his new GLOCK to hold up a gas station.. and gets caught.. and charged with the use of a replica in a crime.. the airsoft glock is compaired to a real one and found to meet the test of being a replica.
at this point every transfer of that particular gun just became illegal and a chargeable offense of illegal transfer of a prohibited device is provable. so now instead of buying an airsoft gun from a retailer who legally imported it you purchased a replica firearm illegally, and subsequently sold a replica firearm illegaly and could be charged with 2 criminal offenses that could result in prison terms of up to 10 years.
However this does not mean that your buddy who also purchased an airsoft gun from the same retailer is in possession of a replica because his gun has not been proven to be a replica. His gun remains a legally aquired and possessed airsof gun.
This should also indicate why there are so few retailers... would you want to take the risk of selling these things to stangers knowing that every sale could potentially end up with you defending yourself from criminal charges and possibly going to jail for a $300 gun that you make $100 on?
CAPS Range Officer
Toronto Downtown Age Verifier
If the tongue could cut as the sword does, the dead would be infinite