Do You Need a License For An Air Rifle?

Air rifles are generally not as powerful as their bullet spitting counterparts. However, this is not to say that they cannot cause damage. Some air rifles are powerful enough to take down hog sized animals such as whitetail deer.

For this reason, different states have over the years passed laws to regulate the use of air rifles. It is important to note that air rifle laws vary from state to state. So do you need a license to purchase or own an air rifle?

Well, it depends on your state laws and regulations. When it comes to air rifle laws states, fall under two main categories. Those that have strict laws on air rifles and those that do not have any rules or regulations.

States that have strict laws on air rifles typically classify air guns under firearms. Therefore all rules relating to the sale, purchase, and ownership of any firearm apply to air guns. However, other states have no laws relating to air rifles.

States With No Air Gun Regulations

In Alaska, Alabama, and Arkansas, for example, no laws are restricting the use of non-powder guns. This means that in these states, you do not need a license for an air rifle. Other states, such as Idaho, do not also restrict the use of air guns.

Do you need a license for an air rifle?

Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, and Maryland all do not have any laws relating to or restricting the use of air rifles. However, in some of these states, you do need a permit for other types of firearms.

For example, in Maryland, a permit to purchase is required for anyone looking to buy a handgun. Typically, air rifles are typically not classified as firearms and thus exempted from laws relating to conventional guns.

States With Strict Laws

In some states, you need a license to purchase a firearm, air rifles included. For example, in California, there are stringent laws relating to the purchase and ownership of all guns.

These laws apply to air rifles as well. In California, you do need a firearm safety certificate to own any type of firearm. In other states such as Connecticut, you need a purchase permit before purchasing any firearm.

The permit to purchase a license on all firearms applies in ten states, Connecticut included. So in these states, you do need a license to buy an air rifle. In the District of Columbia, a sort of registration is required on all firearms.

This registration functions like a permit or a license. So do you need a permit for an air rifle? Well, it depends on the state. Also, it is essential to know what states define as an air rifle or BB gun.

A license is required for the sale and possession of an air pistol or air rifle in New York.

What Is an Air Rifle and Airsoft Guns?

In most states, a BB gun is any instrument that expels a metallic projectile through air pressure, C02 pressure, or spring action force. This definition captures all the main types of air rifles available.

In these states, air rifles are classified under imitation firearms. An imitation firearm is anything designed to look like a conventional firearm. However, Rhode Island and New Jersey classify air rifles under the firearms category. They are the only two states that have this classification.

This definition does not, however, include airsoft guns. The main difference between BB and airsoft guns is the projectiles they fire. While BB guns fire metallic projectiles, airsoft guns typically fire plastic projectiles.

That being said, airsoft guns do not have the same laws as BB guns.

State vs. Federal Laws

Generally speaking, federal laws do not prohibit the sale and ownership of BB guns. More importantly, states cannot legally restrict the sale of BB guns. However, they can come up with laws regulating the ownership and sale of these types of rifles.

This is where licensing laws come into play. Also, most states prohibit the sale of BB guns to minors. The age limit varies in different states, though, with some the age being 16 and others 18.


Do you need a gun license for an air rifle? Not necessarily, as it will depend on your state laws on air rifles.

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