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Air Gun Safety

KPD Patch
A Public Safety Notice from the Kirkland Police Department


Springfield 1911  

Is This Gun Real or Fake?

Air Gun


The image to the left is a real Springfield handgun;
the image to the right is an air gun.


It’s hard to tell the difference, right? You bet it is. The Kirkland Police Department has responded to several 9-1-1 calls about “assault rifles” being carried by individuals dressed in fatigues. Upon investigation, it was determined the guns were air guns but the responding officers initially treated the guns as though they were real.

Every year across America, there are instances in which a toy gun or air gun are mistaken for a real gun, resulting in tragedy. Air guns are required by federal law to have a “blaze orange” tip but often times this tip is removed or covered; making the air gun look more like a real weapon. For, everyone’s safety, the Kirkland Police Department seeks to raise awareness about laws and the safe use of air guns.

What is an air gun?

Air guns are similar to BB guns. Instead of firing a copper or steel BB however, air guns fire a plastic or ceramic projectile that is round like a BB, but of a slightly larger size. Air guns are produced by many companies, but are commonly referred to as “Airsoft” guns, which is actually the trade name of a popular air gun distributor. The name is misleading as there is nothing “soft” about being struck by a projectile traveling at up to 700 feet per second! Air guns are most commonly used for indoor target shooting or for interactive gaming, similar to paint ball.

The Kirkland Municipal Code defines the types of air guns as: air gun, air pistol, air rifle, BB gun and toy guns of any kind or nature when it is designed and used to propel any pellet, dart, hard-tipped arrow, bean, pea, BB (metal or plastic), paint ball, rock or other hard substance by compressed air, gas, electricity, or spring-loaded plunger.


What are Kirkland’s laws about air guns?

If you’re younger than 18 years old, you must have a parent or adult with you when carrying or shooting an air gun. And that parent or adult cannot give or allow the possession of any air gun to any child under the age of 18. It’s unlawful for anyone to point or shoot an air gun at any person or property, or to discharge an air gun that may cause injury to the person or damage to the property. It’s against the law in Kirkland to point or shoot an air gun within a range that would kill, injure, or disturb any nongame bird. Merchants who sell air guns to a minor younger than 18 years old are in violation. This is true except when the minor is in the presence of a parent or an adult in charge of the minor.

It is lawful for a person over 18 years old to use an air gun when use is reasonably necessary and represents “reasonable force” in the protection of the person or property. Further, it is lawful for a minor to use an air gun on a gun range or game course, to carry an unloaded or dismantled air gun to and from a gun range or game course, and to use it in a confined area within property owned by parents which complies with the regulations for private practice or target ranges or game courses.

Can air guns be used in public parks within the City?

No. There are no Parks in the City of Kirkland which permit the use of air guns.


Safety Tips for Parents and Air Gun Users

Industry experts say air gun risks can certainly be mitigated but it takes more than simply buying face protection. Be safe, respectful and responsible by:


  • Learning and following firearm safety guidelines.
  • Teaching your young air gun user how to safely handle the toy gun.
  • Ensuring the orange tip stays on and is clearly visible.
  • Actively supervising air gun games by knowing game rules and observing game play.
  • Ensuring your child uses a full face mask.
  • Keeping air guns locked and accessible only with express permission.
  • Talking with your child’s friends parents about air gun play safety and rules.


  • Treat every gun as if it is loaded.
  • Always point guns in a safe direction.
  • Know your target and beyond.
  • Know the law and act responsibly.
  • Do not alter the weapon or cover the orange safety tips.

Police Department
11750 NE 118th St, Kirkland WA 98034

General Inquiries
For police, fire, and emergency medical services, call 9-1-1
Non-emergency incident: 425-577-5656