Laws Concerning Blank Guns Around the World

While there are some restrictions, movie productions, collectors, and re-enactors generally have easy access to blank guns in the United States. Other countries, however, don't make it as easy to own or use blank guns. In many parts of the world, it is considered a privilege, not a right, to own or carry firearms of any kind. Let's take a look at a few of the more restrictive laws concerning blank guns elsewhere in the world.

The legal age to buy a blank gun in the U.S. varies from state to state. Most say you must be 18; however, some set the limit at 21. Check with local authorities before purchasing.

Blank Gun Laws in Germany

In 1972, the German Weapons Act was passed, giving Germany some of the strictest gun laws in the world. Not only does it regulate buying, storing, and collecting of firearms and ammunition, it makes it illegal to possess or sell nunchakus, switchblades, and brass knuckles. Collectors may purchase a special license that allows them to buy firearms without prior approval; however, they are limited to the particular collection theme they declare when obtaining the license.

Strict gun laws in Germany have not interfered with Germans having guns. Per capita, Germany ranks as the fourth-highest in the world in gun ownership. In 2002, the gun laws were modified to allow small firearm permits, with the only restrictions being that the permit owner had to be of legal age (18) and trustworthy. While it was legal to own blank guns, flares, or air guns, this permit allowed them to be carried on public property, though it is still prohibited at public events. Because of recent crime scares in Bavaria, in the first three months, applications to allow the carrying of blank guns numbered more than the total for all of 2015.

The owner of a large gun shop in Berlin reported that blank gun sales had tripled since August 2015.

Blank Gun Laws in the United Kingdom

There are lists of conditions for blank gun ownership in the U.K. contained in the Violent Crime Act (VCR) ACT 2006. In all cases, it is illegal to own or sell blank guns under the age of 18, and blank guns cannot be carried in public without a "reasonable excuse." In most cases, there is no need for a license, if you are older than 18, to purchase a blank gun or blank ammunition. Only one type of blank gun is legal, however, and it must vent through the top of the gun, and the barrel must be solid. Any other type is considered open to modification for live ammo and is considered a regular firearm. In that case, you must qualify for, and obtain, a firearms license.

It is only legal to buy, own, sell, or import the solid barrel blank guns, unless you meet specific requirements and have special licenses. If you do have one of the other types of blank guns that has been modified to the legal type, you may buy or sell it. Replicas, even those that don't fire at all, are considered Realistic Imitation Firearms (RIFs) and fall under regular firearm restrictions. The only exception is for RIFs that are pre-1870, such as guns from the Wild West of the U.S. These still cannot be carried in public, though.

Those who owned blank guns, of any type, and RIFs, prior to 2006 are grandfathered and are exempt from the gun law legislation passed in 2006.

Blank Gun Laws in Japan

Guns have been controlled in Japan since the 1500s, even more so after World War II. Licenses have to be obtained for specific uses, and what uses are permitted is very limited. Airsoft guns are prohibited, and even with a license, certain barrel types, magazines, or silencers are illegal.

The strict laws carry over to replicas and blank guns as well. It is illegal to own imitation metal pistols if they resemble real pistols. In 2014, a Japanese citizen in Kawasaki was arrested for downloading, creating, and possessing 3D-printed guns, even though he only used blanks in them and had no live ammunition in his home. The one type of gun that is permitted in Japan is the plug cap fire (PCF) gun or modelgun gun. These are not blank guns since they cannot fire blank cartridges. They are full scale replicas of real firearms, and they use plastic caps that fit into brass cartridges. Today, modelguns in Japan cannot use any metal harder than zinc alloys, and have restricted or solid barrels. In addition, the barrel and frame must not be separable to prevent changing out the barrel for one that could fire a projectile.

The "father of the modelgun" is considered to be the Japanese inventor Tanio Kobayashi. There are very few modelgun manufacturers outside Japan.