There seems to be a widespread perception that air rifles are significantly safer than other types of weapons. The laws concerning air rifles are lax compared to the laws and restrictions placed on even fairly small firearms. It’s a trend that seems to reflect an oversight on the part of lawmakers. Lawmakers may not be as familiar with guns and gun culture as some gun enthusiasts, which may be biasing their perspective. It is also possible that this law is a relic of an earlier time that does not reflect changes in technology or changes in values. At any rate, it is time for the law to change.
Not all air rifles are created equal, just as not all firearms are created equal. Many experienced gun enthusiasts know that the most powerful air rifle can match a smaller firearm in terms of its capabilities. You can get a better idea of what some of the most powerful air rifles are, as well as some reviews and specifications here. Basing gun laws primarily on the make and model of a gun seems like a potential limiting classification system. Gun laws should take a gun’s capabilities into account.
Given the laws concerning air rifles, more and more people use air rifles with a false sense of the amount of power that they’re holding in their hands. There’s a perception that air rifles are not really ‘real’ guns as they are not exactly used for hunting, even though they can match the danger associated with real guns. That perception has no doubt influenced the popularity of air guns, which has probably led people that were unprepared for real guns to become skilled at using air rifles. The problem is, their lack of preparation is going to have other consequences down the line, and laws that fail to limit people from using air guns are just making the entire situation worse for everyone.
For a long time, air rifles were often given to young children as gifts. This is not as often the case anymore. The general public has achieved a greater awareness of the danger of air rifles since then, but that level of awareness is still insufficient. However, this changing perception still reflects a cultural change, and demonstrates that the culture could change again in a similar direction. As a result, people that are pushing to change air rifle laws and the culture surrounding them have cause to be optimistic.
Changing the laws concerning air rifles would have important social consequences. People would start taking air rifles more seriously, and there would probably be fewer accidents involving air rifles in the first place. People that use air rifles would probably get more training before they started using them, since they would take the weapons more seriously. Raising awareness about air rifles in advance might be necessary before the law can be truly changed, but it’s possible that it could still happen at the right time.
Many laws concerning guns have always been very broad. Guns can vary widely in terms of their overall capabilities. Randomly deciding that some guns are safer than others will do very little to protect the public, whether they are involved in the overall gun culture or not. So make sure you consult a lawyer if you are harassed on owning a rifle. Know your rights!