In a baffling bit of twitter news, I came across this curious post in which a Tasmanian resident received a letter that his Gel Blaster was considered a firearm and would have to be confiscated because the owner did not possess a firearms license. The owner of the Gel Blasters was told that the toy would have to be surrendered to the Tasmania Police.
Gel Blasters Deemed “Firearms” in Australia According to Government
Gel Blasters are very similar to bb guns in that they fire small projectiles, however, instead of 6mm hard plastic BBs, Gel Blasters shoot 6-8mm polymer water beads. The Beads themselves are commonly made from sodium polyacrylate at sporting goods stores in Australia, however, they are also commonly found in gardening stores as moisture retainers for potting plants.
The beads themselves absorb water and retain it for a period of time before eventually shrinking and draining off their excess absorbed water. The projectiles are fired using an electronic firing mechanism. Personally, I couldn’t imagine any person in their right mind thinking that a Gel Blaster is in any way shape or form dangerous. For a good example of what I’m talking about, check out the YouTube video below.
I consulted one of our resident discord moderators who is an Australian resident to see if he could give me any local insight as to why these obviously harmless toys are considered firearms by any stretch of the imagination. In his words, they are firearms “just because the government decided that they are.”
Gel blasters are commonly made to look like real wold firearms much in the same way airsoft guns are. This realistic appearance leads to criminals buying blasters in order to use them in robberies in order to intimidate their victims.
According to my source, who lives in the Australian Capital Territory, Gel blasters were never legal in that state, to begin with, and the toys are only legal in Queensland, Tasmania, and until recently, New South Wales.
In fact, a toy shop owner in New South Wales, Brad Towner, who owns a shop called Armoured Heaven recently won a 3-year court battle against the New South Wales Director of Public Prosecutions. The court battle in which Brad Towner (the owner) was charged with 66 counts of unlicensed firearms dealing could have put the shop owner behind bars if the charges found him guilty.
Thankfully, Brad Towner, had all the charges dropped on all 66 counts and he is back in business, however, he is focusing more on encouraging a more healthy attitude towards gel blasters as there are still many clubs that surround the toys and even more individuals that enjoy the hobby itself.