Q327: Are BB guns toys? Can they be in the possession of young children?
BB guns (which fire plastic or aluminium balls) by different methods (such as compressed air or an electrical system) may or may not be firearms and so may or may not be prohibited.
The soft air type of BB gun which is 'toy like' (though it may be a little too powerful to be officially classed as a toy) does not fit within the definition of a section 1 firearm because it is usually too low powered and is probably designed to fire plastic/aluminium pellets. It will normally have a very low power rating, compared to an average air weapon.
An air weapon is powerful enough to injure and kill in the right circumstances, and, does therefore fit within the definition of a firearm, but is not powerful enough to be a section 1 firearm. However, even where a section 1 firearm is not required, an air weapons certificate may be required - see Q236 for further information. The average air weapon is probably about 150 times more powerful than a 'toy like' soft BB gun.
So if you are unsure whether your BB gun is legal or not, then it is worth checking with your local police who will be able to advise you.
Given the nature of BB guns and their capabilities then it is not advisable to allow them to be in the possession of young children.
The very realistic appearance of many BB guns means that armed officers frequently are called to deal with persons in possession of these items. The fact that these are virtually indistinguishable from a firearm can cause great public concern and place the holder in a very vulnerable and potentially dangerous position.