Armed police stage raid as replica weapons spark panic

ARMED response officers swooped on a house after realistic weapons from the popular Airsoft game sparked a gun scare.

The armed officers descended on a home in Livingston after a member of the public mistook the imitation firearms for the real thing.

The incident has sparked a warning from police for Airsoft players with their own weapons to keep them out of the view of the public.

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Police chiefs also urged owners to keep the replicas stored in a safe place, and only use them at registered game sites.

Bosses at an Airsoft game site in Gorebridge said that 80 per cent of its players owned their own replica, which can cost between £130 and £1200.

Land Warrior Airsoft Ltd said it supported the police safety calls, adding that the weapons “look real” but are used by players at proper sites rather than “down the woods”.

Owning an Airsoft gun is covered by the Violent Criminal Reduction Act, which states that players must be logged on a national database.

The call-out to Livingston saw an armed response team arrive at the home while plain-clothed colleagues shut off the street. But when they ascertained that Airsoft guns were involved the team was stood down.

Scott Allan, the owner of Land Warrior Airsoft, said: “People get involved with the sport because they want something that looks like a real gun. The sites gives them an excuse to own them.

“They have stickers on them saying they are replicas but from 100 yards they look real.”

Mr Scott added: “Under the law, we can only sell direct to TV and film companies and re-enactment societies. A member of the public has to have registered by playing three games at a site in no less than two months.”

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A police spokesman said: “Police recently responded to an address in Livingston after a member of the public reported seeing a number of firearms within a property.

“Officers spoke with the occupier who confirmed they were Airsoft weapons and was given appropriate advice on proper storage.

“No crime was committed and the member of the public who reported the matter was fully updated.”

The spokesman added: “Many people within the force area enjoy participating in the Airsoft hobby.

“Airsoft weapons are classified as realistic imitation firearms and their sale is legislated by the Home Office.

“Those who play the game should be mindful of the appropriate methods for storing and transporting their accessories, given their realistic appearance.”

War games

AIRSOFT originated in Japan and involves participants trying to eliminate opponents by hitting each other with pellets launched via replica firearms.

Gameplay varies in style and composition but often involve military simulations or historical reenactments while smoke grenades can be used to mimic battlefield situations.

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Participants, known as “skirmishers”, typically emulate the tactical equipment and accessories used by the military and police.

Airsoft guns fire plastic pellets by way of compressed gas or electric and/or spring-driven pistons.

Most Airsoft guns are produced in the Far East while some are produced in the United States and Canada.

The skirmishers wear protective glasses during combat.