Proposed Massachusetts Bill H.3476 May Ban Airsoft In The State
09 Jan 2016
We have been getting emails from concerned players in the U.S. about a proposed bill now filed at the 189th General Court of The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, that when it gets passed and signed by the Governor, may effectively outlaw airsoft as a hobby and sport in the state.
An Act relative to imitation firearms
SECTION 1. Section 121 of chapter 140 of the General Laws is hereby amended by striking out the figure “131Q”, inserted by section 19 of chapter 284 of the acts of 2014, and inserting in place thereof the following figure:— 131R.
SECTION 2. Said section 121 of said chapter 140 is hereby amended by striking out the definition of “Imitation firearm”, as appearing in the 2012 Official Edition, and inserting in place thereof the following definition:-
“Imitation firearm”, any air rifle or hand gun, pellet gun or “B-B” gun or any device or object made of plastic, wood, metal or any other material which substantially duplicates or can reasonably be perceived to be an actual firearm, rifle, shotgun, air rifle or hand gun, pellet gun, or “B-B” gun, unless such air rifle or hand gun, pellet gun, “B-B” gun or device or object: (i) is colored other than black, blue, silver or aluminum; (ii) is marked with a non-removable orange stripe which is at least 1 inch in width and runs the entire length of the barrel on each side and the front end of the barrel; and (iii) has a barrel at least 1 inch in diameter that is closed for a distance of not less than one-half inch from the front-end of its barrel with the same material of which the imitation firearm is made. “Imitation firearm” does not include any non-firing replica of an antique firearm, the original of which was designed, manufactured and produced prior to 1898.
SECTION 3. Said chapter 140 is hereby amended by inserting after section 131Q, inserted by section 70 of chapter 284 of the acts of 2014, the following section:-
Section 131R. (a) No person shall import, manufacture, sell, hold for sale or distribute within the state any imitation firearm unless such device is imported, manufactured, sold, held for sale and distributed: (i) solely for subsequent transportation in interstate commerce; or (ii) solely for lawful use in a theatrical production, including a motion picture, television or stage production.
(b) A violation of subsection (a) shall constitute an unfair or deceptive trade act or practice under section 2 of chapter 93A.
(c) A law enforcement officer may confiscate any imitation firearm from a person in possession thereof unless the person is possessing the imitation firearm:(i) solely for subsequent transportation in interstate commerce; or (ii) solely for lawful use in a theatrical production, including a motion picture, television or stage production.
The text is very specific on only who can use airsoft guns in the state. The provisions in Section 3, , does not specify that those who use airsoft for sports or recreational purposes are not allowed to own and that the police can confiscate any airsoft gun owned by any person who are not engaged in (i) and (ii) in Section 131R.
As for the status of Bill H.3476, it is still in the early stages in the legislative process having passed the First Reading and been referred to the Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security. The Committee held a hearing on the Bill last January 7, 2016, but so far, we have not seen any transcript or minutes of the hearing posted at the website of the State Legislature.
How can you help? If you are a resident in the State, it’s time to contact your local representative or senator to state your objections to the Bill H.3476. The local airsoft community and industry should quickly move to present a credible and organized group so they can be heard by the politicians. A reasonable discourse with the proponent of the bill and the committee concerned always helps to make them consider the points that they will raise.
Also, a petition is on Change.org. “Stop Bill H.3476” is gathering at least a thousand signatures that will then be presented to the Governor Charlie Baker and State Representative Daniel Cullinane. The petition proposes that “Instead of imposing such severe restrictions on replica firearms, we should increase the penalties against people who brandish these replicas in public.”
The airsoft community and industry of Massachusetts should act fast to prevent the passing of Bill H.3476. If the bill passes and signed into law, airsoft players will need to travel out of state just to play airsoft. If you think SB 199 in California, which took effect last January 1, 2016 is bad, then Bill H.3476 is really, really bad for the hobby.