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The future of airsoft retail in Ireland

  • 27-08-2012 6:38pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 769 AirsoftEire.com


    Hey everyone.
    Just thought it was about time we created a thread about airsoft retail in Ireland and how it currently hangs by a thread.

    To those who are not aware, we had a shipment from a supplier seized some weeks ago by customs in Dublin port. This is from a supplier we have dealt with on a monthly basis for the last 5 years.

    A customs official contacted Gardaí in the city centre stating that there were items over 1 joule of energy in the shipment, as stated by the retail packaging. Gardaí send various RIFs for testing with ballistics and consequently seized all RIFs they believe to be over 1 joule, and the rest of the shipment was released to us. I do not want to state how much value there is in these seized RIFs, but take it to be a substantial amount.

    Just to state that we are still operating 100% and everything we stock, and are currently selling, is absolutely under 1 joule of energy. If we were a smaller operation, a loss of over 100 guns would be crippling.

    Whilst we expect no sympathy regarding this incident, as we are as aware of the law as any one else, this impacts every airsofter in the country.

    Why? Because this incident goes to show that it does not matter how big/small you are, or how long you have been in business, airsoft retail is just not catered for with our current legislation. And if there is no airsoft retail in this country, the sport will die.

    Any airsoft retailer who says they have not received items over 1 joule in shipments before, regardless of whether they ordered them like that or not, either does not care what goes out the door, or is lying. You can order x300 AEGs from a supplier under 1 joule and you can be sure a stack of them are well over the limit. Irish retailers are bound by the same 1 joule limit as anyone else. This means under current Irish law, you are potentially committing a firearms offence every time you import a pallet of AEGs.

    Whether a retailer downgrades RIFs before selling them is utterly irrelevant in the eyes of the law, however this has got some retailers off the hook before in the past with other seizures. Not so this time.

    As a result of this, most of the other large retailers are no longer importing anything that could be over 1 joule. This massively limits what can be imported and what cannot. Essentially if the RIFs are coming from a distributor, they are almost certain to be over 1 joule for the other 95% of the world who do not have a 1 joule limit. If it comes from the factory like with G&G for example, they downgrade our AEGs before they ship. However if just one of those AEGs is over 1 joule, once again we are slapped with the firearms offence crap.

    We've been mainly chatting with HobbyAirsoft and MainIrishAirsoft regarding this incident and are just getting the run around with the Dept of Justice, Firearms Policy unit and the Gardaí.

    If you are an airsofter, and care about the future of the sport, you HAVE to sign up with the IAA once the new organisation and procedures/members are all in place. I hate to iterate that this is not an IAA promo post, I personally only half know two of the members but they all bring a lot in the way of past experience. Curently airsoft has NO VOICE in this country, we are a nothing, a nobody. At least with hundreds/thousands of members, an airsoft association will carry some weight.

    We all have to come together to try and establish some kind of plan for the future of the sport in this country in regards players/retailers/site owners, as it really is hanging by a thread.

    Thanks guys. :)

    Steve


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Comments

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,432 Kashkai


    This is Ireland where:
    (a) the average citizen talks a lot from their barstool but actually will do very little. The Greeks, Spanish etc will march and riot against what their governments are doing to the average citizen in the name of austerity while the Irish do diddly squat. So I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for massive support against this "crackdown" against shipments of aeg's.

    (b) the average Irish person does not like to accept personal responsibility for their actions. If someone's little Johnny gets his hands on a one joule+ aeg and takes someone's eye out, will the parents take responsibility? No. They'll point the finger at the retailer for selling the aeg to them in the first place. So this crackdown on imports is just ensuring that all aeg's are legal and relatively safe.

    Customs are only upholding the law of the one joule limit which everyone knows is there for a reason, I.e. so you don't need a firearms licence. How many under 21's currently playing air soft would be able to get a firearms licence if their aeg's were over the one joule limit? Answer, NONE. Airsoft can be a dangerous hobby, hence the eye protection and face protection, and this for a sub one joule limit on the guns in use.

    All involved in this sport/industry will just have to abide by the law or the powers that be will crack down and possibly ban airsoft "for the greater public good" (well any excuse to distract the populace from the mess the politicians are making of this country). Push them too far and next, you'll have revenue invading air soft sites and checking to see if the owners are handing over their proper amounts of VAT on the €25 or so they charge for a day's airsoft. This could drive prices upwards, if not result in the closure of some sites for non payment of taxes. The Gardai might be empowered to be at sites to do the chrono on guns themselves and might confiscate those found to be over the limit. I could go on but you get the picture. The righteous mob (politicians, media etc) is always on the lookout for the next thing to ban and make enough noise and they will turn their attention on to you.

    As an aside, I'm in my 40's with young kids and there is no way I'd let any of them handle an airsoft gun. Yet there doesn't appear to be a problem selling springers to young kids. Perhaps the parents bought them and passed them on but I saw several 6-8 year olds running around the Salute event yesterday with them. These aren't as powerful as a GBB pistol but I'd say they could still do damage to eyes/teeth at close range. Why are they being sold at all? They are of no use in skirmishing. Is it a cheap sideline for retailers? Do you make money on them at 25-40 euro a pop? At this price range, people might make an impulse purchase for little Johnny not realising it can still do harm. I wouldn't see them splashing out 120 euro + on a gas pistol for little Johnny and thus the price could be used as the deterrent against buying these for little kids.


  • Registered Users Posts: 11,306 ✭✭✭✭ Witcher


    How many under 21's currently playing air soft would be able to get a firearms licence if their aeg's were over the one joule limit? Answer, NONE.

    You can have a licence from 16 up but you can't get a licence for an airsoft gun anyway..they don't have a serial number.


    Imo the only hope of getting an amendment and allow retailers to import airsoft guns over 1 joule to be downgraded before sale would be if the IAA managed to get it tacked on to some piece of broader firearms legislation in the future, the DOJ aren't going to go through the process just for airsoft.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,201 hightower1


    Hey Steve, while I completely agree that airsoft in Ireland is in a nasty situation where we are a passionate minority with no political or legislative voice I dont think thats going to change anytime soon....but I would be the first to welcome it.


    My post however is more with the business side of this, it seems like a harsh line taken with retailers here considering the law of averages goes way up for one gun being hot when importing hundreds in one go. One would hope the gardai would use common sense and see that your a legit business and are willing to comply and downgrade these under garda supervision if necessary etc

    However if you or any others are ordering hundreds of AEGs at a go would this not give any kind of financial clout with your suppliers? Could you too not take such a hard line with them? How are your business relationships with them? - ie are they aware how serious this is for you / do they care if it endangers any future business with them.
    Is it a case that ordering hundreds of AEGs at a time is small stuff compared to other regular orders they would receive and as such dont warrant the same serious attention to begin with ?


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,404 ricka


    I've announced earlier on our own thread for people to have patience if they're looking for certain rifles from us in the next few weeks, due to the problem you've outlined above Steve.
    Robbie our tech in Rathcoole is flying to France next week to downgrade a consignment of rifles for us.I've just been to scared to bring them in of late, because of recent developments.
    Due to the small size of the Irish market, most distributors are unwilling to downgrade.Even when they do, I've yet to receive an order where everything is under 1 joule.
    in fact of the three orders we've now done with G&P and paid for downgrade, at least 50% were still overpowered.
    The problem is retailers need some system so we can act as a proofing house for the products we sell.
    I agree that something needs to be done and I'm glad you started this thread.
    I also think as a community we have to get together on this.
    Since the IAA have established communication with the relevant authorities in the past and they're definitely getting active again then let's use them.
    While some may not care to much what happens to retailers, I would say that without an active retail market, numbers playing will dwindle as there'll be no new blood entering the sport.
    If numbers go down significantly, sites will close.
    One site owner has told me that there's roughly a two year cycle on airsoft players.Six months getting into it.About a year active and then six months fall away time.
    You need new people and I would say the retailers bring most of the noobs to sites.With every rifle or pistol sold, we're telling people where they can go play.
    Hopefully the new IAA committee members will draw on help from the retail and site owners.Then we can all start to work on this together


  • Registered Users Posts: 11,306 ✭✭✭✭ Witcher


    Was the possibility of guns being imported over the limit and downgraded later discussed with the DOJ?


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  • Registered Users Posts: 3,160 Inari


    What worries me is that this situation smacks of a very Irish way of dealing with things - they make things as difficult and/or uncomfortable to work in until you simply give up due to an inability to comply any longer.

    With the personal importation of RIF's already banned under current legislation (though not yet enforced, nor having a legal definition of an RIF) all they have to do is stop retailers' importing, and airsoft dies. To me that is very scary, as it seems quite likely. Headshops were far more lucrative (turn over and therefore tax-money speaking, at least) and they were eliminated overnight. It is not a far-fetched idea unfortunately.

    How many of you have imported RIF's? How many of those have been over the limit? How many close calls have their been? How many of you have had guns seized? How many of you have personally paid for downgrades to be carried out, and only to find out upon receipt of the gun that it was never done? I hear stories every day about guns being seized due to being over powered, about guns being improperly downgraded - I even had a lad in whom had spent quite a bit of money with a retailer, and their downgrade method was to turn the hop up all of the way on...realistically speaking, this industry is a joke! There are very few marketable guns manufactured under 1 joule, and even fewer companies who will reliably/consistently carry out modifications to bring the guns in-line with Irish law, and as we've established above from individuals, it's not like the work is always done. There is a major element of them knowing that the gear is being sent halfway around the world and that they have very little chance of having to deal with any fall out.

    In order for airsoft to flourish in Ireland there needs to be a provision for the guns to be imported into a secure facility, and downgraded to exacting standards before being deemed fit-for-sale with regard to Irish law. Unfortunately I cannot see that happening, but one can hope...

    But yes, this is certainly a time for unity...but then again, adversity always is.

    @HighTower: The problem is even if all of the retailers in Ireland were rolled into one, and all money consolidated into one supplier...you would still be an unbelievably infinitesimal insignificant blip on the radar, and in absolutely no position to make demands, no matter how reasonable they may be. It is sad but true - the Irish market is about the equivalent of Northern Paris


  • Registered Users Posts: 769 AirsoftEire.com


    I don't think anyone is naive enough to believe any amendment will be made to the 1 joule limit no matter who you are, it just takes far to much effort and is very costly. Not to mention how slowly the wheels turn in regards legislation; we have a big problem right now and even if by some miracle an amendment was made, it would be 2+ years before it would happen.

    Currently, this is where the airsoft retailer/skirmish site licensing stands, as of five weeks ago:

    Stephen, I am replying to your email about your expression of interest in becoming a
    registered dealer in RIF's, when the register is set up,

    The relevant regulations, which will lead to the register being set up,
    have been drafted and we await progress on their finalisation, which will
    be agreed between this Department and the Attorney General's office.

    We can notify you further when there is further progress,


    That is from the head of the Firearms Unit. Something of a how long is a piece of string answer.

    If a provision could be set out in the licensing for the importation of RIFs to a maximum of 1.5 joules or the like, with customs and Gardaí fully informed, maybe it would be possible to sidestep the 1 joule legislation for licensed importers.

    Anyways, as a result of the hassle caused by this seizue, expect to see a reduction in range across all retailers. :(


  • Registered Users Posts: 769 AirsoftEire.com


    Blay wrote: »
    Was the possibility of guns being imported over the limit and downgraded later discussed with the DOJ?

    I believe back around that time, it was a case of take it or leave it regarding the 1 joule limit; I think everyone involved was happy to even get the 1 joule limit.

    Some of our suppliers have suggested importing to registered firearms dealers. Again this would not work, as the RIFs would have to be serialised. Not to mention, no one apart from the military/Gardaí has the ability to import fully automatic "firearms".


  • Registered Users Posts: 14,130 ✭✭✭✭ Lemming


    Rather than trying to get the DoJ to draft up amendments just for airsoft - which would be a long time coming anyway - would it not be better to push for an exemption clause (like the VCRA has for airsoft in the UK) or agreement with the DPP & Customs on 'not to enforce' where import is to a bonafide shop, or a registered dealer (whenever they get around to implementing that)? Obviously with conditions for resale/trade/shifting-stock that full compliance with Irish law be observed after the fact.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,201 hightower1


    Lemming wrote: »
    registered dealer (whenever they get around to implementing that)?

    And there in is the crux of the problem imo, if there is no formal recognition of airsoft retailers there can be no formal talks or amendments for them. Irish law needs to register and recognize Irish retailers as licensed entities as the first step in securing any legal basis and protection for the sport. Sites should fall under the the same act of formal licensing also.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 109 ✭✭ eversmann


    I once thought that the answer was importing the components and assembling the AEGs in Ireland but unfortunately this is was in no way economically viable as the cost of every AEG would jump approximately 33% and then you'd have to listen to the inevitable

    'Irish Retailers are robbing b*stards, I can get that €400 gun from Ehobby for €245'

    Unfortunately, the situation now is Irish Retailers will buy what they are 1000% will be <1 Joule and Irish Airsofters will wonder why when they go into a shop, everybody has the same stuff.

    Who can blame either one?

    The law is an ass but is unfortunately the law.

    PS:

    I don't really see why a certain retailer is openly selling M130>150 Aeg springs and M130>M190 sniper springs? You would have to have one serious air leak to warrant same.


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,261 Puding


    And there in is the crux of the problem imo, if there is no formal recognition of airsoft retailers there can be no formal talks or amendments for them. Irish law needs to register and recognize Irish retailers as licensed entities as the first step in securing any legal basis and protection for the sport. Sites should fall under the the same act of formal licensing also.

    the problem is money, to implement any of this needs cash which the country is short of and tbh we're not a priority so it will more than likely be left


  • Registered Users Posts: 117 ✭✭ mememo


    Hi guys seriously hope that you have got the old lawyers involved in this because its the only way that you will avoid this kind of treatment in the future is to set a legal precedent for retailers to be allowed to downgrade airsoft items in country .


  • Registered Users Posts: 11,306 ✭✭✭✭ Witcher


    mememo wrote: »
    Hi guys seriously hope that you have got the old lawyers involved in this because its the only way that you will avoid this kind of treatment in the future is to set a legal precedent for retailers to be allowed to downgrade airsoft items in country .

    What 'treatment'? The Gardai and customs are only enforcing the law as it's written. The position retailers are in is unfortunate and needs to be changed asap but in this case, the authorities have only followed the law.


  • Registered Users Posts: 990 ✭✭✭ jayod30


    Blay wrote: »
    What 'treatment'? The Gardai and customs are only enforcing the law as it's written. The position retailers are in is unfortunate and needs to be changed asap but in this case, the authorities have only followed the law.

    For years they let things pass and now, on a whim, they decide to uphold the law all of a sudden and destroy thousands worth of stock. That kind of treatment.:rolleyes:


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,133 Stonewolf


    jayod30 wrote: »
    For years they let things pass and now, on a whim, they decide to uphold the law all of a sudden and destroy thousands worth of stock. That kind of treatment.:rolleyes:

    Drink driving
    Social welfare abuse
    Legal highs
    learner drivers unaccompanied

    It's called a crackdown, normal procedure.


    As an aside, just how much over are we talking? I know it's 20-30 quid more expensive but could you not ask to have it downgraded to significantly within the limits (germans are limited to 0.5J afterall) and then upgrade it again?


  • Registered Users Posts: 11,306 ✭✭✭✭ Witcher


    jayod30 wrote: »
    For years they let things pass and now, on a whim, they decide to uphold the law all of a sudden and destroy thousands worth of stock. That kind of treatment.:rolleyes:

    Retailers are accepting that risk when they import guns, airsofteire said a number of guns in every shipment are usually hot even though they've asked for a downgrade but they still import the shipment knowing they might be over so they're accepting a potential loss...people are suggesting involving solicitors when unlicenced firearms were being imported and were seized and destroyed..no solicitor or court is going to listen to an argument of 'sure it's been going on for ages':pac: I think the fact the Gardai haven't taken it further than just seizing and destroying them is cause for considerable relief.

    Episodes like this will become more frequent when the personal import ban comes in because they'll focus solely on testing retailers shipments.


  • Registered Users Posts: 117 ✭✭ mememo


    Im sure that airsofteire could at least have being able to explain that the guns were going to be downgraded or were ment to be downgraded . Yes we are supposed to follow the laws as written but we all know how silly the airsoft laws are at the moment and the garda did not have to impound all the Guns they could have showing a little common sense and allowed the lads to downgrade onsite at customs or at least send the guns back to the supplier it just seams unfair to us all that we are going to pay for a total lack of common sense on the part of the law makers


  • Registered Users Posts: 11,306 ✭✭✭✭ Witcher


    mememo wrote: »
    Im sure that airsofteire could at least have being able to explain that the guns were going to be downgraded or were ment to be downgraded . Yes we are supposed to follow the laws as written but we all know how silly the airsoft laws are at the moment and the garda did not have to impound all the Guns they could have showing a little common sense and allowed the lads to downgrade onsite at customs or at least send the guns back to the supplier it just seams unfair to us all that we are going to pay for a total lack of common sense on the part of the law makers

    There's no facility for customs to hold firearms and let them be downgraded...it's not the job of Customs or the Gardai to be our buddy and bend the rules for us.
    it just seams unfair to us all that we are going to pay for a total lack of common sense on the part of the law makers

    You're making the mistake of thinking the DOJ have to help airsoft out in some way. As Airsofteire said themselves on the last page, the DOJ said we either took the 1J limit or we left it...we took it so we're living under their roof with their rules. It's not like there is a long list of rules to obey with airsoft..ya keep the gun under 1J and don't have it out in public, doesn't look good when we're seen infringing on two simple rules.


  • Registered Users Posts: 990 ✭✭✭ jayod30


    Stonewolf wrote: »

    Drink driving
    Social welfare abuse
    Legal highs
    learner drivers unaccompanied

    It's called a crackdown, normal procedure.

    I get what your saying but there is one significant difference, on all listed above there was plenty of prior warning given to people, here there was none. If they were quite happy to let it slide then all of a sudden have a clamp down a simple warning to distributers wouldn't have been to much to ask


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,432 Kashkai


    Customs do this all the time, I.e. their focus on one particular item is changed from time to time. I fly rc planes and import all of the parts from Hong Kong. I had 30 orders varying from small boxes to containers five feet long pass through without a problem and then all of a sudden, four orders were stopped and I had to produce Internet receipts to prove what these parts were, what they were for and how much they cost. I wondered if they thought I was trying to build an atom bomb in my shed:confused: Then their focus switched to something else and my orders again passed through unmolested after that (until next time they switch back their attention to large packages from Hong Kong).

    Of course, you might say that an rc plane isn't dangerous like an aeg. Well how would you like something five feet long, seven feet wingspan, flying at 80kph to smack into your head?;)

    Customs are just doing their jobs here and it's not personal. No one wants aeg's slipping through the net that are higher powered than allowed, causing an injury and thus bringing unwanted attention onto this hobby.

    Some have suggested that retailers send reps abroad to ensure aeg's are sub one joule. Would a meeting with customs to carry out the work here in a bonded warehouse on the docks (where the guns are still not officially in Ireland yet) not be an idea. That way the guns could be modified and tested before release.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,133 Stonewolf


    jayod30 wrote: »
    I get what your saying but there is one significant difference, on all listed above there was plenty of prior warning given to people, here there was none. If they were quite happy to let it slide then all of a sudden have a clamp down a simple warning to distributers wouldn't have been to much to ask

    I would consider 5 years to be fair warning. The Gardai are only doing their job and customs theirs. If you want to really complain about an injustice try being charged 15 euro by a courier without asking you in advance for the convenience of having your package declared to customs.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,048 OzCam


    now, on a whim, they decide to uphold the law all of a sudden

    Oh my gosh! People actually doing their jobs! Whatever next?
    Would a meeting with customs to carry out the work here in a bonded warehouse on the docks (where the guns are still not officially in Ireland yet) not be an idea. That way the guns could be modified and tested before release.

    That would require people in the Irish airsoft industry to set aside their mutual distrust and work together in their shared interest. Dream on.


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Entertainment Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 23,078 CMod ✭✭✭✭ Steve


    jayod30 wrote: »
    For years they let things pass and now, on a whim, they decide to uphold the law all of a sudden and destroy thousands worth of stock. That kind of treatment.:rolleyes:
    The written word of law has little actual meaning in this country - the politicians make laws so vague that nothing is set in stone until it goes before the courts and a precedent is set so this is a good point.
    If and when it is challenged in court then the judge is duty bound to take the fact that, if true, 'for years they let things pass' into account.
    Would a meeting with customs to carry out the work here in a bonded warehouse on the docks (where the guns are still not officially in Ireland yet) not be an idea. That way the guns could be modified and tested before release.
    That idea could have legs - it would take the IAA as a recognised body to help implement it but, so far, imo, it's the best idea on how to work through this. Fair play Dave.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,048 OzCam


    Steve wrote: »
    That idea could have legs - it would take the IAA as a recognised body to help implement it but, so far, imo, it's the best idea on how to work through this. Fair play Dave.

    I suggested the idea of a bonded warehouse almost three years ago. I was laughed at.

    Sometimes it doesn't pay to be ahead of the game. Where there's no will, there's no way.


    Here's another idea (not mine, this one): there's plenty of warehouse space available in Newry.


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Entertainment Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 23,078 CMod ✭✭✭✭ Steve


    OzCam wrote: »
    I suggested the idea of a bonded warehouse almost three years ago. I was laughed at.

    Sometimes it doesn't pay to be ahead of the game. Where there's no will, there's no way.


    Here's another idea (not mine, this one): there's plenty of warehouse space available in Newry.

    It only pays to be ahead when the game catches up ;)

    A UK warehouse would certainly be easier to work than flying reps out for downgrades. Win win there and immediate payback on costs for the retailers.. :)


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,369 ✭✭✭ gerrowadat


    OzCam wrote: »
    I suggested the idea of a bonded warehouse almost three years ago. I was laughed at.

    Sometimes it doesn't pay to be ahead of the game. Where there's no will, there's no way.


    Here's another idea (not mine, this one): there's plenty of warehouse space available in Newry.

    I was on the IAA committee 3 years ago, and don't remember this being suggested, let alone anything being laughed at.

    Sure give the DoJ a ring. Tell them you're from the IAA.


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Entertainment Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 23,078 CMod ✭✭✭✭ Steve


    OzCam wrote: »
    That would require people in the Irish airsoft industry to set aside their mutual distrust and work together in their shared interest. Dream on.
    gerrowadat wrote: »
    I was on the IAA committee 3 years ago, and don't remember this being suggested, let alone anything being laughed at.

    Sure give the DoJ a ring. Tell them you're from the IAA.
    Q.E.D. :(

    How far down the shítpipe does the sport have to go before people put their self interests aside and actually realise that there is a problem here.

    Come on, folks, lets all be proactive here - if we don't then the only losers are the airsoft community.


  • Registered Users Posts: 990 ✭✭✭ jayod30


    OzCam wrote: »
    Oh my gosh! People actually doing their jobs! Whatever next?



    That would require people in the Irish airsoft industry to set aside their mutual distrust and work together in their shared interest. Dream on.

    He know, it's as if some are actually pleased this has happened to airsofteire:confused:


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  • Registered Users Posts: 7,470 ✭✭✭ Leftyflip


    jayod30 wrote: »
    He know, it's as if some are actually pleased this has happened to airsofteire:confused:

    Nobody is...
    Customs have a job to do, that's the end of it.


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