Is it Legal to Possess a Gel Blaster in New South Wales?

by Ugur Nedim & Sonia Hickey
Gel Blaster

Gel blasters have been made illegal in Victoria, after a number of the recreational items were allegedly used during the commission of serious criminal offences.

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

As of this month, their possession and supply will be prohibited in Victoria, and breaking this law will carry a maximum penalty of 2 years in prison, or 10 years for a person with a criminal history.

The prohibition comes after gel blasters were allegedly used during serious crimes including home invasions, armed robberies, sieges, assaults and drive-by shootings.

In January this year, Southern Cross Station in Melbourne CBD was locked down in January after a man was spotted with what appeared to be a firearm. After police arrested him, they discovered the item was a gel blaster which was described as ‘almost identical’ to a real weapon.

Victorians are being encouraged to hand in their gel blasters to local police stations.

South Australia also banned gel blasters last year.

Is it legal to possess a gel blaster in New South Wales?

The short answer is it is illegal to possess a gel blaster or BB gun in New South Wales without a valid permit.

The law in the area is as follows.

Section 7A of the Firearms Act 1996 (NSW) (‘the Act’) prescribes a maximum penalty of five years in prison for anyone who possesses or uses a firearm unless he or she is authorised to do so by a licence or permit.

Section 4 of the Act defines a firearm as 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.

In relation to gel blasters, gel balls are normally propelled by a spring rather than ‘by means of an explosive’ or an ‘air gun’, so it would appear that spring-propelled gel blasters are not captured by this definition.

Imitation firearms

However, section 4D of the Act of the Act sets out ‘special provisions relating to imitation firearms’.

The section defines an imitation firearm as “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.”

Significantly, the section makes clear that for the purposes of offences 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 ensures that offences under section 7 of the Act (possessing a pistol or prohibited firearm without a licence or permit, which carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison) and 7A extend to imitation firearms.

Those who wish to legally possess or use imitation firearms in NSW are required to obtain a permit from the Police Force.

However, it is important to note that section 4D makes clear that “an imitation firearm does not include any such object that is produced and identified as a children’s toy.”

The upshot is that if that gel blasters are not produced and marketed as children’s toys, and are therefore classified as imitation firearms which a person is not permitted to possess without a valid permit.

Charged with a firearms offence?

If you are going to court for a firearms charge, call Sydney Criminal Lawyers anytime on (02) 9261 8881 to arrange a free conference with an experienced criminal defence lawyer who will advise you of your options and the best way forward, and fight for the optimal outcome in your case.

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Authors

Ugur Nedim

Ugur Nedim is an Accredited Criminal Law Specialist with over 20 years of experience as a criminal defence lawyer. He is the Principal of Sydney Criminal Lawyers®.

Sonia Hickey

Sonia Hickey is a freelance writer, magazine journalist and owner of 'Woman with Words'. She has a strong interest in social justice, and is a member of the Sydney Criminal Lawyers® content team.

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