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    The law on gel blasters in NSW and wider Australia has been subject to much controversy in recent years - in particular, whether it is legal to possess gel blasters.

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      gel blaster laws nsw

      Gel Blaster Laws NSW

      The law on gel blasters in NSW and wider Australia has been subject to much controversy in recent years.

      Many gel blasters look similar to real firearms, although they shoot small water-based pellets.

      They are due to be outlawed in Victoria, after a number of the recreational items were allegedly used during the commission of serious criminal offences.

      However, the law in NSW is more complicated.

      What is a Gel Blaster?

      A gel blaster is a life-like toy gun that is designed to shoot a gel pellet that has been soaked in water. It is also known as a gel ball blaster, hydro blaster, gel gun or BB guns.

      The design of blasters is similar to air rifles or airsoft guns. The main difference being the size and material of the ammunition it fires.

      The gel balls are comprised mainly of water. Generally, they are 6-8mm in size. 

      NSW Firearms Laws

      The Firearms Act 1996 governs the regulation, control and registration of firearms in NSW. It also sets out a number of firearms offences.

      This legislation was enacted following the Port Arthur Massacre in Tasmania in 1996 as part of a national campaign to implement firearms control.

      The new regime made significant changes to firearms laws in NSW. The principles and objects of the act are set out in Section 3 of the Act which set out that the use of a firearm is a privilege that is conditional on the overriding need to ensure public safety.

      Are Gel Blasters Legal in NSW?

      It is illegal to possess a gel blaster or BB gun in New South Wales without a valid permit.

      The maximum penalty for possessing a gel blaster is five years imprisonment.

      Section 7A of the Firearms Act 1996 (NSW) (‘the Act’) set out that anyone who possesses or uses a firearm unless he or she is authorised to do so by a licence or permit is guilty of an offence.

      The definition of a firearm is contained in Section 4 of the Act. 

      A firearm is a gun, or other weapon, that is (or at any time was) capable of propelling a projectile by means of an explosive, and includes a blank fire firearm, or an air gun, but does not include anything declared by the regulations not to be a firearm.

      While many regard them as toys, the firing mechanism in BB guns and gel blasters uses compressed air to propel pellets, bullets or other projectiles. Therefore they meet the definition of firearms.

      In relation to gel blasters, if the gel balls were propelled by a spring rather than ‘by means of an explosive’ or an ‘air gun’, then it would not fall under this definition.

      Possessing a Firearm in NSW

      In NSW it is an offence for a person to use or possess a firearm, unless that person is authorised to do so by a licence or permit. The maximum penalty is five years imprisonment.

      If a person is in possession of a pistol or ‘prohibited firearm’, without being authorised to do so, the maximum penalty increases to fourteen years jail.

      What is a Prohibited Firearm?

      A ‘prohibited firearm’ is:

      • a machine gun;
      • self-loading rifles;
      • self-loading or pump action shot guns.

      Possessing Ammunition in NSW

      The offence of acquiring or possessing ammunition without a licence or permit is set out in Section 65 of the Firearms Act 1996.  

      The maximum penalty for acquiring or possessing ammunition without a licence or permit in NSW is $5,500.

      Acquiring Firearm Parts

      It is an offence to acquire a firearm part, unless the person acquiring the part holds a licence or permit.

      A firearm part must be designed as, or reasonably capable of forming a part of a firearm, and includes a:

      • Barrel
      • Receiver
      • Breech
      • Cylinder
      • Pistol slide
      • Frame
      • Magazine
      • Trigger mechanism
      • Operating mechanism

      Therefore, if a person acquires one of the parts above for a gel blaster or BB gun, they can be found guilty of an offence. It is irrelevant whether the part is in working condition or not.

      The maximum penalty for acquiring a firearm part without a licence or permit is 5 years imprisonment.

      If the firearm part relates to a pistol or prohibited firearm, the maximum penalty increases to 14 years imprisonment.

      What is an Imitation Firearm?

      An imitation firearm is an object that, regardless of its colour, weight or composition or the presence or absence of any moveable parts, substantially duplicates in appearance a firearm but that is not a firearm.

      This definition is set out in Section 4D of the Act. However, it makes clear that “an imitation firearm does not include any such object that is produced and identified as a children’s toy.”

      The section also confirms that under the Firearms Act:

      • an imitation firearm that is an imitation of a pistol is taken to be a pistol, and
      • an imitation firearm that is an imitation of a prohibited firearm is taken to be a prohibited firearm.

      This means that offences under Sections 7 and 7A of the Act include imitation firearms.

      If you want to possess or use imitation firearms in NSW, you must apply for and be issued with a permit from Police.

      What if You Have a Gel Blaster but Do Not Have a Licence or Permit?

      If you have a gel blaster but do not have a licence or permit, you can either:

      • apply for a firearms licence and to register the firearm; or
      • surrender the gel blaster to police or certain firearms dealers.

      Are Gel Blasters Legal in Victoria?

      Gel blasters are illegal in Victoria.

      The maximum penalty for possessing and supplying a gel blaster in Victoria is 2 years in prison, or 10 years if the defendant has a criminal history.

      The law came into effect after Police claimed gel blasters were used in the commission of a number of crimes. These included home invasions, armed robbery, sieges, assaults and drive-by shootings.

      In January 2021, a lockdown of Southern Cross Station in Melbourne was instituted following an allegation that a man was brandishing a firearm. Police arrived on scene and arrested him, only to discover that the item was a gel blaster which was said to look ‘almost identical’ to a firearm.

      Charged with a Firearms Offence?

      If you have been charged with a firearms offence, it is imperative that you speak to an experienced criminal lawyer. Call Astor Legal on (02) 7804 2823 or email us at info@astorlegal.com.au.

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