Thursday, March 11, 2010

Customs and ATF Officials Seize BB Guns

Airsoft gun Classic Army M15A4 SPC w/ Aimpoint...Image via Wikipedia
I do not envy the job that our Customs and Border Patrol agents have to perform day in and day out in their quest to keep our country safe.  They have to be diligent in their pursuit of discovering the new ways that smugglers attempt to bring in drugs and weapons into the country.  Then there is the pursuit of those who try to enter the country illegally.  It is a tough job to be sure.

One would think that with the multitude of items coming through customs, that occasionally legal items could be stopped at the border.  You would also think that once it was determined that said product was allowed to be brought into the country that any product that was delayed or confiscated would be returned to the rightful owners of that property.

Bob Owens of has an interesting three part series about a company, Airsoft Outlet Northwest, has been having difficulty getting their goods through customs.  Airsoft Outlet sells air rifles designed to shoot plastic BBs.  These rifles are designed for those who are looking for a less messy alternative to paint ball.  Several of the rifles are very realistic looking, but are not made with the same quality metals used to manufacture a real weapon. 

Airsoft Outlet Northwest had a recent shipment of 30 of these rifles seized by custom officials.  The owners of the company thought that it would be a temporary delay since they believed that a close examination of the guns would reveal that the guns were not real weapons.  Plus they had received similar shipments in the past.  Customs officers turned the guns over the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.  Here is where the story starts to border on absurd.  The ATF officials determined that seized guns were, in fact, designed to shoot plastic BBs.  However, they also determined that they could be retrofit to become actual machine guns. 

In his article, Owens quotes numerous experts who claim the items could not be converted to actual weapons.  He also sites other products seized from Airsoft Outlet that can easily be purchased at sites like  In other parts of the country, similar items can be purchased from other Airsoft dealers.  Owens even sites a customs regulation stating that these types of goods are perfectly legal. 

Pajamas media has tried to contact both the ATF and the CBP regarding the matter and to clarify how their decision in the Northwest will impact the rest of the country and future shipments.  They have not responded to those requests.  Unfortunately, right now, the guns are set to be destroyed by the ATF.  The actions of the ATF and CBP could best be described as being overzealous, and at worse incompetence. Sadly, a small business owner is set to be out of several thousand dollars through no fault of their own because of these events.
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  1. WTF? how can they be retro fitted?if the guns are made just for BB's that how can they be change without total reworking the guns.

  2. Can a super soaker water gun be retrofitted? You betcha it can. As a law enforcement officer I've come across a super soaker water gun fitted over a mossberg shot gun. You would have to take a second look at the water gun to tell the difference.

  3. But does that mean the ATF should be rounding up super soaker water guns? Just because bad guys can turn something in to a more dangerous weapon doesn't mean you can take the property of a business owner with out a fair trial. Also you would spend more money retro fitting the BB guns then just buying something similar from the black market, you would need a good machine shop to do the work.

  4. you can pretty much turn anything into a deadly weapon. we will have to start banning shoestrings, guitar strings, baseball bats. I could go on and on.

  5. I have read a lot about airsoft after my brother hounded and hounded me to find him a discount airsoft mini gun. Airsoft Guns



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