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Treasure Valley airsoft storeowner gives safety advice

About 10 teenagers were detained at the Boise mall Tuesday after officers found two airsoft guns. A local airsoft storeowner spoke to KTVB about airsoft gun safety.

BOISE, Idaho — Airsoft has jumped in popularity over the past few years as a way for people to get outside and have fun through a sport. 

But airsoft guns can be dangerous, and it's important to handle them properly.

According to Boise Police, a group of about 10 teenagers were detained Tuesday evening when officers responded to reports of someone with a gun in the Boise Towne Square Mall. Police located two airsoft guns at the scene. 

Justin Brown is the owner of Combat Sport Supply, an airsoft and tactical supply store in Garden City. He spoke with KTVB about airsoft safety. 

"The guns should be treated as though they are firearms. That includes from where you point them, to how you use them, to where you take them, to what you do with them," Brown said

Brown's number one piece of advice for airsoft gun owners is to treat airsoft guns as if they are real firearms, and follow basic gun safety measures.

"You don't point them at people, you only point them in the direction, you keep your finger off the trigger. You know, your basic gun safety. Don't keep them loaded, things like that," Brown said. 

There are sanctioned games and events where people can use airsoft guns. Brown said those facilities and events are what airsoft guns are meant for - and that's where they should be used. 

"They're not to be played with, they're not toys," Brown said. "They shouldn't be brandished in public or anything like that. They're treated the same as a firearm if you do. So, it's not a good idea."

You must be at least 18 to purchase an airsoft gun. Parents can purchase airsoft guns for their kids. All airsoft guns are transported and sold with orange tips, per federal law. 

"That's a signifier to everyone that it is not a firearm, but that still doesn't give you the leeway to take it into public or do stupid things with it," Brown said. "So, you need to treat it as though it's a firearm." 

Brown has advice for parents on how they can make sure their kids stay safe with airsoft: 

"You can control where and how they use them. If they go to the sanctioned events, then that's where they use it," Brown said. "Sometimes depending on your situation, you could shoot it in the backyard, things like that. But you need to be mindful. Similar to a BB gun, you're not shooting at other people, or animals, or houses, or cars or anything like that."

Combat Sport Supply hosts 'Airsoft 101' classes to teach about the sport, and learn basic airsoft gun safety.

One more note: The City of Boise's ordinance against the discharge of weapons and firearms includes airsoft guns in its definition of "weapon." The prohibition includes private residences except "at, upon, or within" a structure specifically designed and built for safe discharge of a weapon.

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