This website is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission.

Are Bug Salt Guns Legal?

Last Updated: 05.02.23


Does your house face so many bug problems that you’re thinking of getting an outdoor bug zapper? Many people face this issue, which is why something like the salt gun has become such a popular item since it was invented a few years ago.

While strangely effective and ridiculously entertaining to use, the legislation for this can be different in every state or region. Therefore, it is very important before purchasing one to see if you can use bug salt guns without the danger of being prosecuted for, well, killing bugs.


What Is a Salt Gun?

What is, though, this mysterious object that has the group of house owners with insect problems hooked on using it? The salt gun is a shotgun-type weapon which, as pointed out from its name, sprays actual table salt instead of real life bullets. By sending the bullets in a conical spread pattern, shooting from close range is almost always a guaranteed hit.

The gun’s inventor, Lorenzo Maggiore, said he created this product to be able to kill houseflies at a distance in a quick and efficient way. Since everybody has known, at least once, the feeling of running around the house with a newspaper trying to catch a fly, Maggiore’s invention skyrocketed to the top of the charts.



How Do We Use It?

Since it very much resembles an actual gun, it’s not very hard to use and it also comes with a set of instructions. You need to lift the loader cap and simply pour in some regular table salt. At full capacity, the owner says the gun should last you for about 80 shots.

Once loaded, you should be slide cocking the handle towards you while pushing away towards the barrel, thus activating the auto-safety. When this sequence of events happens, the pop-up sight will appear and indicate the gun is ready to fire. Simple, right?

Just like a regular gun, you need to release the safety before you are able to fire it. Salt guns were extremely popular at first because they were not considered dangerous and the reduced skill curve meant pretty much everybody could shoot and hit something.

The inventor made it a point to discourage any and all modifications to the gun, the official website clearly stating that this is a weapon meant only to be used with salt ammunition and any modifications are illegal and will result in loss of the warranty and possible prosecution.  

Its popularity was also drawn from the non-toxic characteristic that was marketed for it because a gun that does not require batteries and uses salt as ammunition is, indeed, not threatening to the environment.


And Then There Were Problems

After the bug salt gun was released, a number of copycats appeared and not all of them were meant for insects. For example, in late October 2015, a model of a salt gun that was aimed to be used for self-defense was launched on the crowd-funding platform Indiegogo. The website’s owners took it down almost immediately because of the legal issues that could appear.

Its gun-like nature created some legal hurdles for potential buyers in a few places in the United States of America. In the District of Columbia, for instance, it had to be registered as a purchase, Hawaii was hard to send to due to shipping restrictions and Massachusetts and New York required the people who wanted it to go through a licensed arms dealer.

Even more, the gun could not be shipped at all to California because it qualified under the section prohibiting civilian use of tear gas or tear gas weapons.


How Did This Impact Bug Salt Guns?

First of all, the company that marketed the original product, Skell Inc., made a good job of legally protecting itself from any consequences. Their safety policy clearly states that all customers must be eighteen years or older and treat the weapon just as they would a loaded firearm at all times.

Even considering this, though, consumers started to talk and soon there were a lot of discussions about where the bug salt gun should be classified when it comes to gun regulations. The main thing, as stated by the company, is that every potential customer should refer to his or her state or country’s laws concerning gun purchase.

You should also take into account the possibility of the salt gun being mistaken for an actual firearm if there are people around you who do now know exactly what you own. Skell Inc. tried to prevent this by equipping the original model with an orange safety tip on the muzzle that identifies it to everybody as a salt gun.

However, since not all police officers are bound to know this, you may find yourself in potentially-problematic situations if you go out of your house while carrying this gun.

Due to the way the world moves today, the process of approval to get this product into European countries and Australia also got extremely complicated and, in some places, it was even completely stopped.



So What Should I Do?

As we said, this seems to be an effective product which can really help you if you have a problem with the flies during the summer. But before you take “Lord of the Flies” to a whole new level, just check your local laws regarding gun ownership and see if the bug salt gun classifies as a legally registered weapon.

In most places, you won’t be required to do a background check or anything of the sort to own it except, as we said, U.S. California. Even if you buy it, remember that it’s still a weapon with a projectile and you as the owner are responsible for what happens to it and because of it.

That being said, while bug salt guns are legal in most places, there are certain situations where things could go wrong if mishandled.



Leave a comment



August 8, 2020 at 10:50 pm

Bug a salts guns are legal in Califonia to all buyers 18 years and older: So mail orders are iffy becase of the proof of age – child safety.

Reply Protection Status