Can I Airsoft There? Myths v Truth

CAN I AIRSOFT THERE?

The Guide to Maricopa County Municipalities

- Editor's Note: The following information is applicable to all of Maricopa County. If you have questions regarding your personal city, town or state rules and regulations about airsoft, please reach out to your local law enforcement office or click the link below for the municipality statutes. -

Arizona doesn't consider Airsoft guns as a Firearm

 

All Arizona State municipalities consider airsoft guns, air guns, paintball guns, spring guns or any toy or weapon that is a replica to a firearm and is close enough in appearance to a live firearm where a reasonable person would feel threatened by its display as a FIREARM. The biggest difference though? Because airsoft guns aren't registered via a unique serial number- if an officer confiscates your airsoft gun, there is no guarantee you get it back and the department isn't required to give it back since they cannot officially prove ownership. 

The consequences are less because it's an Airsoft gun


You could face any number of charges actually.... 

- Criminal Damage (if your bbs or game play damages someone's personal or company property)

- Assault (is someone playing or a bystander were injured because of your airsoft game play)

- Assault with a Deadly Weapon/Aggravated Assault (if someone playing or a bystander was heavily injured or felt threatened by you airsofting)

- Misdemeanors (Class 1-3 depending on the incident): Up to 6 months in jail and upwards of $2,500 in fines

- Class 6 Felony: Up to 2 years in prison and upwards of $150,000 in fines. 

Keep in mind that any of the charges listed above can be bundled together. So if you're playing in a park and someone sets fire to a bush with a grenade and a passerby gets hit with a bb you could face Criminal Damages, Aggravated Assault and a Class 1 Misdemeanor all in one go. 

I can play in my own backyard


Yeah! You certainly can! It's your personal property! Just make sure you are playing where there is a fence that no bbs can escape through or over into someone else's property and there is no risk of damaging your neighbor's house, pets, etc. 

I can play legally in the canals & open desert


Well... You kind of can- but it'll take a lot of legwork on your part. All Arizona municipalities state that you can play a pick up game but you have to get the following written and signed pieces of information. You also have to abide by the safety distance regulations. 

1. Written, signed and notarized permission by the property owner of the land you want to play on

2. Written, signed and notarized permission by the Chief of Police for the city/town you want to play in

3. The area you choose to play at must be safely distanced away from any residential or commercial (business) areas so there is no chance of bbs or game play damaging property or harming onlookers. 

4. Gotta have BOTH of those signatures with you when you head out to play and follow Step #3. If an officer approaches your pick up game and you don't have those signatures, are playing in an area deemed unsafe or someone calls the police on your group - you won't be a very happy airsofter.

I can use my airsoft gun legally in self defense

 

You certainly can! With the average law enforcement response time clocking in at 15 minutes, many emergency responders are recommending having some sort of weapon available to protect yourself and your family. Should you choose to use your airsoft gun in self-defense however, you will be subject to all the regulations and consequences as if it were a live fire weapon. So just keep that tidbit in mind... 

I don't need a hunting permit for my airsoft gun at my camp site

If you're gonna shoot at the wildlife - gotta get a permit through the Arizona Game Department or the US Fish and Wildlife Service. 

I can use cactus and other wildlife or plants for target practice

NOPE NOPE NOPE! Cacti are protected under Arizona State Law and you risk a hefty fine for shooting up the cactus for any reason. You'll also face that Class 6 Felony or Misdemeanor mentioned above if you're caught shooting at animals without cause unless you have a hunting permit available. 

I can shoot the pigeons or dangerous animals on my property


Yes and No. You are allowed to protect your property from pigeons and other nuisance animals (like skunks or raccoons) that cause damage. Or for those of you in the outskirts who have to deal with mountain lions and whatnot. While it is legal, there must be just cause to shoot at them, you cannot risk the safety of neighbors or neighbors' property and it is highly recommended to get a license from the AZ Fish and Wildlife. The license will help you out if a neighbor or passerby were to call because they see you shooting those pesky pigeons roosting in your roof. 

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If you would like to view the expanded Municipal Code for your own city/town or just want to verify the information provided above for yourself, feel free to utilize the links below:

https://www.municode.com/library/AZ

http://www.azleg.state.az.us/ArizonaRevisedStatutes.asp 

A HUGE thank you to the following Law Enforcement Officers who assisting in the compilation and update of this list. 

Seargeant Jesse Sanger - Gilbert

Detective Glenn Branham - Phoenix

Karen Hubbard - Mesa

Seth Tyler - Chandler

Charles Cobb - Tempe