Air weapons

Airguns, air rifles and air pistols are not required to be held on a Firearm Certificate unless they are of a type declared especially dangerous by the Firearms (Dangerous Air Weapons) Rules, 1969.

It is possible to measure the velocity of pellet discharges, to a satisfactory degree of accuracy, by use of an electronic chronograph. These measurements allow the calculation of the kinetic energy of the pellet, at the muzzle.

The rules state that any air weapon is especially dangerous, which is capable of discharging a missile with kinetic energy in excess of:

Air weapons, exceeding these prescribed limits can only be lawfully held on a Firearm Certificate and are subject to all the rules and regulations pertaining to all Section 1 firearms, although the 'ammunition' (pellets) are not.

An air pistol over 6ft.lbs is a Section 5 prohibited weapon and therefore cannot be placed on a firearms certificate.

Conventional air weapons not required to be held on firearms certificate are still subject to other legislation, particularly age restrictions.

Under 14 years of age

It is an offence to give an air weapon, or ammunition for an air weapon, to a person under 14 years of age. It is not an offence for that young person to receive it. It is an offence for a person under 14 years of age to be in possession of an air weapon, or ammunition for it, except:

This effectively means that a person under 14 years of age must be supervised by someone over the age of 21 years at all times, even within their own home and garden. If a pellet is fired beyond their own property boundaries, the child and adult both commit offences.

Under 18 years of age

It is an offence for a person under 18 years of age to have an air weapon with them in a public place, except:

It is an offence for a person under 18 years of age to be in possession of an air pistol in any public place except as described above.

A public place means any highway or place or premises to which, at the material time, the public may have, or are permitted to have, access, whether on payment or otherwise. You may not have an airgun in a public place without proper reason. An airgun is deemed as loaded if there is a pellet, dart or anything else in the gun or magazine whether cocked or not.

It is also an offence to discharge a firearm, including an airgun, within 50 feet of the centre of a highway. This includes roads, bridle-paths or public footpaths. The offence is complete if a member of the public is injured, endangered or even just alarmed by the incident.

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