I don’t think that’s really the right question. Are knives safe? I mean they just lay there. What’s dangerous about them? My initial search on the airsoft question found an overwhelming response of Yes, they are safe, which was quickly followed by “If handled properly”. Back to that knife analogy. Heck, rattlesnakes and guns are safe when handled properly but I’m not going to let my kids play with them.
My search also found many parents that were ok with their kids playing with airsoft guns who also teach their kids to handle regular guns responsibly. To them, that means the same rules for regular guns apply to the airsoft gun, not the least of which includes “Never point at or shoot another person”. In other words buying airsoft guns for target practice is ok. But is that what kids want to buy them for? No! They have been made to believe that these guns are ok to shoot each other with, as long as they wear goggles.
Airsoft guns are perfectly safe if used properly. Safe use of airsoft guns requires using eye protection, and preferably ear protection. Eye protection should be in the form of goggles or masks that fit without leaving gaps. Paintball masks work well.
Shooting an airsoft gun at an unprotected person is not safe. An airsoft BB, even from a low-powered spring gun, can cause serious damage to an eye or an eardrum.
Shooting an airsoft gun at someone’s eye at point blank range is potentially lethal.
Rule of thumb. If you are old enough to purchase it (legally), then it is safe.
LEGAL AGE CERTIFICATION:
By accessing the Site, you certify that you are older than 18 years of age or the age of majority where you live, whichever is older; that you are the owner of any credit card used to purchase on items on the Site; that you are familiar with all local laws in your area affecting your legal right to access airsoft products; that any products you buy are for your own private enjoyment and that you will NEVER share these products with a minor in ANY WAY.
Minor = 17 or younger.
For me, the question is Can airsoft guns be dangerous in the hands of a minor? And the answer for me is yes.
Update Jan18, 2009:
This post has gotten several comments. Many supporting the idea that airsoft guns are dangerous, several young posters continue to defend them as toys and perfectly safe. Kids think they are invincible. They never think they are going to get hurt. I’ve been fighting David over wearing FULL equipment, not just a helmet, when rollar blading and skateboarding. He says “I won’t get hurt”, “I haven’t gotten hurt yet”, which I reply “It is only a matter of time”. When you do take a hard fall do you want to do it with equipment or without? He still fights me. I finally said fine, just wear a helmet but if you fall and suffer a significant injury, then you will no longer be a proud owner that Waveboard (ripstick) we bought you. He finally took his first hard fall last week, ironically after he agreed to wear equipment. He did not wear his hand protection, however, and suffered a very mild wrist sprain. I think he may be more open to wearing full equipment now.
So for those that think airsoft guns are perfectly safe, I ask do you want to wait until you suffer an eye injury? Is it really worth your sight to take the chance?
Below is the contents of the second post:
I am an ophthalmologist at Piedmont Fayette Community hospital and
feel compelled to write in to discuss a serious topic: Eye safety.
I have just seen another patient with an injury from an AirSoft
pellet gun, making it four patients I have seen in the past two months
with similar injuries. I have seen two this week alone.
I am writing to plead with parents not to allow their children to play with these “toys” without considering the risks.
There are over 300,000 serious eye injuries in America each year,
with over 50,000 coming from projectiles of some sort (bullets, BBs,
pellets, paintball, fireworks, etc.) Most of these injuries are in
young people, primarily boys. The level of severity can range from mild
to severe, but any easily preventable injury is unacceptable in my mind.
For years, I have seen a rise in eye injuries due to paintball.
Paintball pellets are a potentially destructive force that seem to be
magically guided towards eyes. Paintball equipment clearly reads that
eye protection (helmets) should be worn at all times.
In every paintball injury I have ever seen, the victim briefly took
off the helmet (to clean the face-shield or reload the gun) and was hit
at that instant. As with most safety equipment, the availability of the
equipment is not the problem; the usage of the equipment is.
Now, I am seeing another troubling trend. AirSoft guns are becoming
very popular, promising “simulated warfare” with tiny plastic pellets
or BBs, and are marketed as being safe. There are warnings on the
equipment that eye protection should be worn, but the suggestion is
“they are just plastic, they don’t really hurt.” A review of a popular
AirSoft website found this quote:
“The combination of realism, safety, flexibility, and low cost makes
AirSoft more appealing to the average consumer who would like to
exercise his or her steady eye/hand coordination without the inherent
I suspect that there are many parents who are convinced that this
activity is safe and that no harm will ensue. Please believe me,
parents, this is NOT true.
All projectiles can and will injure the eyes, especially when they
are aimed at other people in simulated war games. Your children will
not wear eye protection as they are instructed 100 percent of the time.
At some point, an injury will occur. I would rather meet you somewhere
else than our newly remodeled ER.
I am not trying to put the paintball purveyors and AirSoft suppliers
out of business. Used completely as indicated, they may be perfectly
safe. I rarely see injuries from paintball game locations, because they
are very vigilant about eye protection.
Most of these injuries come from the backyard, and that is why it is
so disturbing. I want to make sure parents are aware of the inherent
dangers, so they can make their decisions accordingly. Loss of vision
in a child from this type of injury is a preventable catastrophe.
Brian D. Long, M.D.
Eye Consultants of Atlanta