are-gel-blasters-legal-in-victoria

There’s a lot of confusion and misunderstanding out there, which is understandable given how quickly laws have changed recently.

Hopefully, I can clear up the status quo when it comes to gel blasters in Victoria as of 2023, and provide some insights from an owner’s perspective. Let’s dive in!

Are Gel Blasters Legal in Victoria?

Gel blasters are categorically banned in Victoria, Australia. It is illegal to possess, manufacture, sell, or use them without a firearms license. There are currently no exemptions for recreational purposes and harsh penalties exist for offenders. Gel blasters are classified as prohibited firearms under Victoria law.

The Rollercoaster of Legislation in Recent Years

Now, here’s where things start to get complicated…the legislation around gel blasters here in Victoria.

Up until 2017, gel blasters weren’t really regulated at all. People could freely buy them from shops or import them with no licenses or anything required. But in that year, amended firearms regulations brought gel blasters under stronger control by classifying them as imitation firearms.

This meant you needed a firearm license for ownership, and gel blasters had to be registered similarly to real guns. Retailers also had to comply with proper storage and security requirements. These new laws made sense to me at the time, allowing people to enjoy blasters recreationally while regulating them as potentially hazardous items.

However, just two years later in 2019, the firearms act received another amendment that outright banned gel blasters as prohibited weapons! No exemptions were made even for people who used them safely for sports and games. Possession became immediately illegal all across Victoria overnight.

As an owner myself, this was incredibly disappointing. Under the new ban, I faced having to either surrender my perfectly lawful blasters, or become a criminal just for keeping them! And many retailers were stuck with now prohibited stock – a terrible position to put small businesses in. Frankly, it seemed like overkill compared to the 2017 regs.

What Exactly Does the Ban Prohibit?

With gel blasters now classified as Category E prohibited firearms in Victoria, it’s illegal for regular people to do anything with them. You can’t own, use, manufacture, sell, distribute, or even work on or repair gel blasters.

Not only are the blasters themselves prohibited, but so are parts like magazines and tactical accessories. Even just the hydrogel balls on their own are prohibited for sale or possession. It’s a blanket ban covering anything gel blaster related.

Interestingly, another kind of ammo called “gelsoft” is also included under the ban. These use plastic pellets instead of hydrogel balls, but the law makes no distinction – if it can be shot from a “blaster”, it’s outlawed.

The only exception is for real paintball markers. You can legally use approved paintball gear, though it has to comply with certain safety standards, like a muzzle velocity under 300FPS. But actual gel blasters or anything resembling firearms are a no-go. There’s no longer any legal recreational use for consumers.

Maybe It’s Time to Reconsider?

Personally, I think these laws go too far for a toy that realistically poses minimal danger with proper precautions. When used responsibly by adults, gel blasters provide a lot of enjoyment and positive benefits.

Should registration and licensing be brought back for consumer ownership? I believe so. It would let law-abiding citizens safely use blasters again under regulation, just as the 2017 laws allowed. And it wouldn’t affect criminals misusing replica guns – they don’t follow processes like registration anyway.

The all-out ban feels heavy-handed and an overreaction. And it seems at odds with states like Queensland and New South Wales, which take a more balanced regulatory approach to gel blasters rather than prohibiting them completely.

I do understand why legislation needed to be introduced around imitation firearm replicas that look so realistic at first glance. That’s fair for public safety. However, allowing no exemptions even for supervised use feels excessive.

I truly hope Victoria reconsiders how we regulate gel blasters. Bring back registration, mandatory safety training for owners, and limits on public use if needed, but allow responsible citizens to legally enjoy blasters again. Prohibition often causes more problems than it solves.

Related Article: Is Gel Blaster Illegal In NYC? My Personal Experience

Serious Penalties Apply for Using Banned Gel Blasters

Of course, while they remain prohibited, there are some pretty serious penalties in Victoria if you break the ban. Just possessing a gel blaster at home illegally can earn you a fine up to $45,500!

And the offenses scale up from there – if convicted of manufacturing or selling black market gel blasters, that can land you up to 5 years imprisonment. There is no messing around with these prohibited items anymore – you absolutely don’t want to risk having gel blasters if you value your freedom and bank balance!

Police have been given broad powers when it comes to enforcing the gel blaster ban too. They can search properties and seize blasters without even needing a warrant in most cases. Expect no leeway if you’re caught doing the wrong thing.

This puts owners like myself in a tricky spot. I surrendered one of my blasters to stay on the right side of the law. But I was pretty attached to my favorite one – a MATRIX M4 Carbine gel blaster I’d upgraded with a red dot sight and tacti-cool accessories.

In the end, I decided to dismantle it and store the parts. Without it being assembled, I can truthfully say I don’t “possess” a working gel blaster. But I held onto my mags and ammo too, which is still technically prohibited. Bit of a grey area, but I’m hoping that’s enough to avoid thousands in fines if I’m ever investigated.

Not ideal though, and I really miss actually using it! It seems like such a trivial thing to criminalize. Hopefully, the laws eventually relax to let responsible owners like me use our toys legally once again. I’d be happy to register it or anything else required.

Gelsoft Blasters Also Banned Despite Different Ammunition

I touched on this briefly earlier, but one question I see a lot is around gel soft blasters. Instead of the hydrated jelly balls, these use plastic pellets like airsoft BBs.

Some people think they may be legal since they don’t fire the specifically prohibited “gel balls”. However, the legislation doesn’t distinguish the ammo type – anything that can be fired from a blaster replica is outlawed. So gelsoft guns are also completely banned in Victoria, unfortunately.

This seems excessive to me. .30-gram BBs do have the potential to cause harm at high speed, unlike hydrated gels that just burst on impact. But with proper protective gear, using gelsoft blasters could be even safer than paintball which remains legal. Once again, the laws feel disproportionate and restrictive of personal freedom.

I know some folks who switched to get soft after the ban, thinking they found a legal loophole. But they were mistaken, and still at risk of prosecution and seizure of their equipment. Gelsoft is considered the same as gel ball blasters in the eyes of the law here.

I think both gel ball and gelsoft blasters could be safely used under regulation. So it’s a real shame to see them universally banned without regard for nuances of equipment. More open minds and flexibility in the legislation would let people enjoy their hobbies while still addressing public safety concerns.

Using Gel Blasters for Legitimate Sports is Off the Table

This is another area where Victoria’s laws seem overly rigid compared to other parts of Australia and most overseas countries. Using gel blasters and gelsoft guns for organized sport is entirely prohibited here. And again, no exemptions were made for recreational use when the ban came into effect.

In Queensland for example, you can legally participate in regulated gel blaster ‘skirmishes’ at controlled venues once you’re over 18. It gives enthusiasts a safe outlet to play tactically simulated “missions” using their replica blasters.

But here in Victoria, no such regulated sports use is permitted. Gel blasters can’t be used for any recreational activity, competitive gaming, or training simulations – none of it. Which seems like a real shame, since it denies a vibrant community of enthusiasts the chance to engage in a uniquely fun pastime.

The same applies even for proper airsoft – using lower powered BB guns to shoot plastic pellets in team skirmish games. This sport has grown enormously internationally, but remains totally banned for Victorian citizens due to our local imitation firearm laws.

I hope that down the track, both airsoft and gel blaster skirmishes could be permitted under tight control and regulation. Give enthusiasts a legal avenue to play mock combat games safely and responsibly. It works well interstate and overseas, so no need for Victoria to stubbornly deny its citizens the same opportunities.

The Bottom Line – Gel Blasters Will Remain Prohibited for Now

At the end of the day, despite some concerns around fairness and lack of nuance, the legislation prohibiting gel blasters in Victoria remains firmly in place. There are unlikely to be any amendments to legalize them again in the near future.

While I will continue to voice my disagreement and hope we eventually return to more balanced regulations, the legal reality right now is that gel blasters are categorically banned for civilian use. No exemptions exist for recreational, cosmetic, theatrical or sport use. They are classified as Category E prohibited weapons, with serious penalties for anyone caught manufacturing, distributing, owning or using them.

For law abiding citizens, that unfortunately means no blasters for now. We can lobby our representatives and keep the conversation going around introducing more proportional legislation. But until any actual policy changes occur, gel ball enthusiasts in Victoria simply have to live without their hobby for now.

The only legal option is paintball with approved equipment under 300FPS limits. Anything replicating real firearms remains prohibited, whether it’s airsoft, gel blasters, gelsoft blasters, or anything similar. No exemptions for skirmish sports, training, props, or anything else.

It’s a disappointing outcome for me as an owner who used my blasters responsibly for recreational enjoyment. And I sympathize with small businesses still stuck with banned stock after the surprise prohibition. But when all is said and done, gel blasters do remain categorically illegal here for the foreseeable future. Hopefully, down the track, we’ll revisit the legislation and regulations around imitation ballistic toys and introduce more balanced controls. But sadly for now in Victoria, a total ban remains in effect.

My Concluding Thoughts

In the end, while I’m disappointed gel blasters were banned outright, I do understand the rationale around closely regulating replica firearms. Prohibiting them does seem excessive, but some degree of legal control is fair enough for community safety.

I look forward to the day when gel blaster ownership returns in a legal, regulated form here in Victoria. In the meantime, I’ll have to pursue other hobbies and reminisce about the good times target shooting in my backyard with my buddies. Stay on the right side of the law, but hopefully, we’ll eventually see a fairer approach to legislation. Well, that’s my personal take as an owner here – I’d love to hear your thoughts too!

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