Queensland remains the only Australian jurisdiction where gel blasters are not illegal, as South Australia announced owners of gel blasters need to hold a licence as of Thursday. Picture: Partrick Gee
Queensland remains the only Australian jurisdiction where gel blasters are not illegal, as South Australia announced owners of gel blasters need to hold a licence as of Thursday. Picture: Partrick Gee

Where to beat new gel blaster rules

South Australia has joined almost every other Australian jurisdiction - except Queensland - in making ownership of gel blasters illegal without a licence.

As of Thursday, SA gel blaster owners will need to be over 18, hold a licence and have the fake weapon registered, under new rules governing the imitation firearm.

The changes, announced by SA Police on Wednesday, will see gel blasters - also known as hydro blasters - need to be declared as a regulated imitation firearm and can only be used at paintball facilities.

Head of SA Police firearms branch Superintendent Stephen Howard with a gel blaster. Picture: Gabriel Polychronis
Head of SA Police firearms branch Superintendent Stephen Howard with a gel blaster. Picture: Gabriel Polychronis

SA Police said they received more than 180 reports that caused concern over the past two years, including one where a 10-year-old girl was shot in a playground.

Premier Steven Marshall said the state government supported SA Police's initiative to keep South Australians safe.

"We want people doing the right thing. They've raised this issue, we've responded," he said.

"We have fairly strict controls around firearm licences in SA. We don't propose making any changes to them whatsoever."

In September, a South Australian man was arrested for allegedly pointing a gel blaster at a driver during a road rage incident near Port Pirie. Picture: SA Police
In September, a South Australian man was arrested for allegedly pointing a gel blaster at a driver during a road rage incident near Port Pirie. Picture: SA Police

While it is not prohibited to own a gel blaster in Queensland, amendments were made to its Weapons Act in July this year.

The change made it a "reasonable excuse" to possess the blasters if a person was a member of an association that used the items in recreational activities and outside a public place.

Queensland Police made the recommendations to the state government to ensure safe and responsible use of the replica firearms, after a number of events involving the misuse of gel blasters.

The advice also included having gel blasters carried in a suitable bag or case away from public view while being transported and to have them secured when stored at home.

Almost 350 crimes involving gel blasters have been responded to by police and almost 90 charges have been laid over a two-year period.

Qld Police Minister Mark Ryan said the advice from police amounted to a sensible response to an increase in the number of incidents involving the misuse of gel blasters.

"Police are not suggesting a ban," he said.

"This is about a few simple precautions to keep the community safe.

"The aim is to strike a balance to ensure people can still use gel blasters recreationally, while also protecting Queenslanders from harm."

One incident in NSW involved a 27-year-old Tweed Heads man who was arrested in September this year after officers allegedly found, three operational gel blaster hand guns, a large amount of firearms parts, a canister of Oleoresin Capsicum spray, a mobile phone containing significant communications relating to drug supply, 14 Suboxone Strips and a laser pointer. Picture: Supplied
One incident in NSW involved a 27-year-old Tweed Heads man who was arrested in September this year after officers allegedly found, three operational gel blaster hand guns, a large amount of firearms parts, a canister of Oleoresin Capsicum spray, a mobile phone containing significant communications relating to drug supply, 14 Suboxone Strips and a laser pointer. Picture: Supplied

In 2018, NSW Police announced gel blasters were classified as an air gun, thus defined as a firearm, and the gel balls were classified as ammunition.

If a person is found guilty of possessing a gel blaster, they can be fined and face up to five years in jail.

"If a gel ball blaster substantially duplicates in appearance a military style firearm, they remain categorised as a prohibited firearm," NSW Police said.

"Further, it is an offence for a person to acquire, supply, possess or use a firearm that is not registered.

NSW Police recommend anyone who is in possession or thinking about acquiring a gel blaster to seek appropriate advice.

Gel balls that are used to fire from gel blasters. Picture: Brenton Edwards
Gel balls that are used to fire from gel blasters. Picture: Brenton Edwards

Under Victorian rules, if an item cannot be mistaken for a working firearm by a person and does not have the function of a gun, it will be treated as a toy and a licence is unnecessary.

However, if a device can be mistaken for a working firearm based on its overall appearance, and does not have the functionality, it is classified as an imitation firearm.

A Victoria Police spokesman said there was no lawful genuine reason to possess or use a gel blaster and was recommended individuals and businesses did not buy them to avoid the risk of being charged with possessing either a firearm or an imitation firearm.

"It is important to remember an imitation firearm, used inappropriately, can cause significant public alarm or can be used to commit serious criminal offences," the spokesman said.

"Not only this, individuals place themselves, the public and police members in a potentially dangerous situation. If people are found in possession of gel ball blasters, Victoria Police have and will continue to seize these items."

Originally published as Where to beat new gel blaster rules


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