Having a gel blaster – a lifelike replica gun that shoots pellets of water-soaked gel – is illegal in NSW. Gel blasters are considered so dangerous that police have written to every school across NSW warning young people face jail if found with such a weapon.
Gel blaster guns illegal in most Australian states
Gel blaster guns look very much like real military machine guns and rapid-fire pistols.
Some are being sold through toy company websites which do not warn people about local laws banning such look-alike guns.
Gel blasters are banned under firearms legislation in every state except Queensland, which classifies them as a toy. There is no ban on importing them into Queensland, but it is illegal to buy one in Queensland and take it to other states.
Queensland tightens laws for carrying gel blasters
Following pressure from police and concerned parents, Queensland recently tightened its law so that people will need a "reasonable excuse" to carry a gel blaster in public.
Under the new regulations, a 12-year-old boy and a 45-year-old man were charged after they carried gel blasters in public on the Gold Coast. (Please see Gel-blaster disaster: Police arrest man, warn fake firearms will cause tragedy, InQueensland, 12 September 2022.)
Supporters of the gel guns say they are popular in shooting games similar to paintball and want to be able to keep them on licensed paintball premises.
Dangers of gel blaster guns
Queensland's Health Department warned parents not to underestimate the dangers of gel blasters after eight people over six months were taken to hospital with eye injuries from gel guns. (Please see Don't risk your child's sight with 'toy' gel blasters, 12 June 2019.)
Kids have been taking them to school to show their friends. They think they are harmless because they fire water-soaked gel pellets, but they can cause damage and long-term health problems if they hit you in the eye.
Furthermore, they look so realistic that somebody who has a real gun, such as police or an armed security guard, could shoot a gel gun holder not knowing the military-looking weapon can only shoot gel pellets.
Some are exact copies of the Glock pistol used by NSW police. Point one at a police officer and they would be entitled to shoot you in self-defence.
Obtaining a firearms licence for a gel blaster in NSW
In NSW it is illegal to have a gel blaster if you are under 18, and it is illegal for adults to have one unless they have a Category A firearm licence. (Please see the NSW Firearms Act.)
To apply for a firearms licence, individuals must provide evidence of a genuine reason for the possession and use of the firearm, and meet a list of eligibility criteria. (Please see Apply for a firearms licence (individual).)
The police in NSW also provide detailed information on the different categories of gun licences. (Please see Firearms Registry Licence Categories and Firearm Types.)
Legal repercussions for possessing gel blaster without permit
Possessing a military replica gel blaster without a permit can lead to five years in jail under section 7A of the NSW Firearms Act. Having a pistol gel replica can get you up to 14 years. Parents may also be held liable for the same penalty.
Point a gel blaster at a person who has not given you permission to do so, as in a game, and you can face a sentence up to seven years' jail. In the ACT possessing a gel blaster can lead to ten years' jail.
Gel blasters have been used in holdups and have often been found during police raids on suspected criminals.
Recent cases involving gel blaster guns
NSW courts recently sent a man possessing a gel blaster and drugs to jail for 14 months. (Please see R v Foster  NSWDC 660.)
Another man who used a gel gun in a robbery got six years. (Please see R v Makouk  NSWDC 170.)
In Canberra a young teenager was charged with pointing one at security staff. (Please see Teen arrested for pointing toy gun at security guard, Canberra City News, 26 September 2022.)
In Adelaide a 20-year-old man was sentenced to a month in jail and fined $7000 after driving through suburbs firing his gel blaster at people from his car, hitting nine terrified victims. (Please see Gel blaster shooter Brandon Agostino jailed for opening fire on pedestrians, ABC News, 1 March 2022.)
Don't forget – it's not just the sentence and fine from having a gel blaster that will have an impact on a person's life. They will have a firearms conviction which will haunt them every time they apply for a job, explain their criminal record to a partner or employer, or make a visa application.
Stacks Collins Thompson
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.