IAA Public Statement 26/11/2008

By on November 26, 2008

There are things we must discuss. The Airsoft community in Ireland has spent two years building up as one of, if not “the”, fastest growing sporting pursuit on the island. We have gone from a handful of players and enthusiasts convinced that we wouldnt last six months to an organised and recognised sub-culture in our own right. We have internal industry with retailers and repair shops, venues and websites. We have organised the dedicated and responsible members of this community under the banner of a single governing body – we, the airsofting people, have shown that we are willing to stand up for our rights and to show that we are willing to do what it takes to ensure that we have a sport to play next year, the year after and in the ten years after that!

Our organisation and our mutual passion for the game does not garauntee that safety on it’s own. In recent days we have been witness to statements of intent by the powers that be to marginalise another legitimate and equally (if not even more so than ourselves) responsible group for reasons that defy common sense and even the most flawed logic. The crosshairs of legislation are baring down on us now and we must make the effort to ensure that we do not “go the way of the dinosaur” as our critics have implied we would.

There is no sense in denying that we have an uphill struggle ahead of us. Various politicians dislike airsoft viewing it as faciliating crime or a borderline criminal activity in its own right. The media has (with notable exceptions) been nothing less than openly hostile and hysterical. The Gardai, customs and a other authorities are uneasy and fearful of the implications of airsoft. Legislation currently being drafted (a bill of miscellaneous items to be tacked onto the Criminal Justice Act 2006) is likely to have some baring on how we play the game and how we conduct ourselves.

The committee will be proposing a version of the following to the DoJ in the coming days as an official position on the issues. These are the only measures which make any kind of sense, most of which have been the de-facto standard with the IAA for the last year.

  1. Legislation must be introduced to prevent the sale of equipment to those under 18 and to those aged 16-18 without consent of a parent or guardian.

  2. The authorities must enter into talks with the dedicated community retailers of airsoft equipment to establish criteria and protocols for permits to trade in airsoft equipment with a view to putting a stop to the unscrupulous traders.

  3. Legislation must be altered to include reference to the specific offense of brandishing any offensive object, replica or otherwise in a public place and that this offense be prosecuted where applicable.

  4. The authorities should recognise airsoft and the airsoft sub-culture as a legitimate pursuit whose proponents are not criminals or engaging in anti-social activity while engaging in the sport.

  5. Retailers taking credit card transactions for replica equipment must only be ship to the billing address for the card.

The committee has also been tackling some of the internal issues to ensure that they will leave less room for interpretation and error. Things that will be changed or introduced soon will include;

A proposal of legislative and protocol changes with regard to airsoft and other replica devices.

– Overhaul of the Retailer Regulations

– Overhaul of the Venue Regulations

– Overhaul of the Code of Conduct

– Standardisations for retailers and venues

– A standard model for chronograph readings

– A model (dummy) version of the proposed database so that people can see how it is intended to work.

The IAA will resist any legislation that attempts to curb the purchase, ownership, usage or handling of any airsoft related equipment beyond the currently enforced limitation (i.e. the 1 joule rule) or attempts to limit the ownership of airsoft equipment to “skirmishers” or any other weak and ill-defined term. We will continue to defend the rights of collectors, plinkers, the disabled and those who are unable to attend regular skirmishes etc for various reasons.

Airsoft is a safe, healthy and enjoyable sport with an impeccable safety record. It is merely an inadequacy in the current legislation that is allowing irresponsible individuals to escape the full weight of prosecution. Blaming the airsoft community for the actions of a minority of people is not only unfair but prejudicial and irrational as is blaming the equipment for the intentions of a few thugs.

We call upon the authorities to not punish the law-abiding in the name of expediency.

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