New gel blaster laws due to kick off in Queensland as toy gun owners warned of harsher penalties
They look like real guns and it’s an offence to point them or fire at anyone without their permission but gel blasters will remain legal in Queensland, despite moves in other states to effectively ban their use without without a licence.
- From February 1, it is an offence to carry an unconcealed gel blaster in public in Queensland
- It is an industry that insiders estimate is worth up to $200 million in Queensland and employs hundreds of people
- Queensland is one of the few states where it is legal to own a gel blaster without a licence
However, gel blaster regulations are tightening from next month and Queensland police have launched a public awareness campaign to explain the law.
The ‘Stop and Think’ campaign follows amendments to Queensland’s Weapons Act in July last year, making it an offence to carry an unconcealed gel blaster in public.
The maximum penalty is two years’ imprisonment.
The latest tightening of those rules impose even harsher penalties for firing a gel blaster at someone without their permission — between three and seven years in jail.
The changes come into effect on February 1.
Owners must keep gel blasters properly stored
Assistant Police Commissioner Brian Connors said the Queensland Police Service wanted owners of the toy guns to be fully aware of their responsibilities.
“What we’re asking is for people take appropriate precautions to secure those items, to keep them out of sight, and carry them in enclosed bags and containers so as not to cause alarm,” he said.
Police are also calling on owners to keep the blasters properly stored when at home.
Assistant Commissioner Connors said people should keep them “in locked cabinets or storage” and “out of the way”.
Asked whether people could be fined for using them in the backyard, he replied: “In discreet activities as part of the sport, it would be permissible.
“But we’re asking people to take care so they don’t put themselves in circumstances where the neighbourhood is exposed to it.”
Since 2018, Queensland police have taken action 100 times against people caught misusing the blasters and frightening members of the public.
Queensland Police Minister Mark Ryan said there had been extensive consultation with the gel ball community and it had worked with the industry “to land a win-win for everyone”.
“Not only did we secure this industry to allow the sport to continue, but we also formalised a set of safety rules so that individuals, our police, and the broader community feels safe,” Mr Ryan said.
Confusion about importing parts
Queensland is one of the few states and territories where it is legal to own a gel blaster without a licence.
South Australia recently declared them a regulated imitation firearm, requiring owners to obtain a category A firearm licence during a six-month amnesty period, or hand them in.
It is an industry that insiders estimate is worth up to $200 million in Queensland and employs hundreds of people.
Wholesaler Dan Tyne welcomed the new laws, saying it provided the sport with “legitimacy”.
But there is some confusion about the importation of parts, with the Australian Border Force (ABF) continuing to seize stock at the border.
Importer Daniel Hennessy recently had $20,000 worth of parts seized by the ABF, despite being reassured by Queensland police he did not need a permit.
But the Department of Home Affairs insisted that he needed the permit.
“It doesn’t make any sense that the various items that are inside these blasters are seized if imported separately,” Mr Hennessy said.