Gel blasters, also known as hydro blasters or gel ball blasters, have become increasingly popular in recent years as toy guns that shoot water-filled gel beads. Due to their realistic appearance and potential for misuse, the legality of owning and using gel blasters has been a controversial issue across Australia. 

While gel blasters are banned in some states, regulations continue to change as the debate around these toy guns continues. This article will look at the current status of gel blaster laws in each state, the debate around banning or legalizing them, and what the future may hold for gel blaster ownership in Australia.

LocationAre Gel Blasters Legal?
New South WalesIllegal
VictoriaLegal with restrictions
Western AustraliaLegal with registration required
South AustraliaLegal
Northern TerritoryLegal
Australian Capital TerritoryLegal with registration required
United States of AmericaVaries by state, mostly legal

See more: Is Gel Blaster Legal In Malaysia? The Controversy!

Current Gel Blaster Laws by State

With each state and territory having the ability to classify gel blasters differently, the legality of owning and using gel blasters in Australia varies widely. Here is a look at where each jurisdiction currently stands on allowing or restricting gel blaster ownership and use.


Gel Blaster Legality in Queensland

Queensland has some of the strictest laws on gel blasters, with major restrictions put in place since 2017. Gel blasters are classified as Category A weapons and are heavily regulated similarly to firearms. Owners must have a valid reason to possess a gel blaster, obtain a weapons license, and register their blasters. Using an unregistered gel blaster even on private property is illegal. Fines for unlicensed use are up to $45,000 or 2 years imprisonment.

Related post: Is Gel Blaster Legal In Philippines?

New South Wales Gel Blaster Regulations

NSW considers gel blasters to be prohibited weapons, making it illegal to possess them without approval. Those caught with gel blasters may face fines up to $11,000 and a maximum 2 years in jail. There are exceptions for film production use with police-issued permits. But recreational use, even on private property, is banned.

Victoria’s Rules on Gel Blasters

You might be surprised to know that gel blasters are actually legal to own and use on private property in Victoria. While subject to weapon offenses, most popular gel ball blasters are not classified as firearms and can be owned without a license. However, brandishing them in public may result in fines. Most retailers will not ship to Victoria though, limiting sales.

Western Australia’s Stance on Gel Blasters

As of July 2021, Western Australia now considers gel blasters as controlled weapons, requiring owners to register blasters over a certain kinetic energy. Using an unregistered gel blaster carries fines up to $4000. Licensed firearm owners can register up to 5 gel blasters for recreational use. Sales and public possession are still prohibited though.


Are Gel Blasters Legal in South Australia?

South Australia has perhaps the most permissible gel blaster laws, classifying them as “toys” rather than weapons. This means anyone over 18 can purchase and use gel blasters for recreational purposes without any license. However, improper use in public or brandishing them can lead to criminal offenses. Retailers in SA sell a wide range of legal gel blasters.

Northern Territory Gel Blaster Laws

The Northern Territory follows regulations similar to SA, where gel blasters are classified as toys and ownership does not require registration or licensing. They can be sold to those over 18 and used on private property for recreational enjoyment. Carrying openly in public view remains prohibited and punishable though.

Gel Blaster Restrictions in ACT

The ACT takes a middle ground approach by defining gel blasters as paintball markers. This means ownership requires registration but no license is necessary. Brandishing them in public is banned, with fines up to $8000 or a year in jail as punishment. But recreational use on private property by those 18+ is permitted.

Tasmania Bans Gel Blasters

Tasmania currently has the strictest anti-gel blaster laws in the country, with all possession outlawed since 2017. Being caught with a gel blaster in Tasmania can lead to 2 years imprisonment, whether on private or public property. Gel blasters are classified as prohibited goods rather than toys or firearms.


Arguments Around Banning Gel Blasters

With gel blasters being subject to rapidly changing and inconsistent laws across Australia, there has been plenty of debate around whether to heavily regulate or completely prohibit ownership. Those in favor of stricter laws or outright bans have argued the following points.

Gel Blaster Injuries and Public Safety Concerns

Though marketed as safe toys, there have been reported cases of gel blasters causing harm, especially eye injuries. Being shot even from a distance can potentially damage eyesight. And the public can feel threatened by gel blasters used irresponsibly, thinking they are real firearms.

Increased Gel Blaster Crimes and Misuse

Police have expressed concerns about gel blasters increasingly being used for crimes and intimidation due to their realistic appearance. Some criminals have painted over the regulatory markers to disguise them as real guns. And gel blasters provide an easy alternative for firearms trafficking.

Lack of Regulations and Registration Like Firearms

Unlike proper firearms, gel blasters have not been subject to strict licensing and registration regulation in most states. This has allowed them to be accessed as “toys” while still posing risks requiring responsible use.

Gel Blasters Used for Illegal Modifications

There are worries around gel blasters being illegally modified to fire real ammunition. Their underlying mechanism allows for modifications if users have the technical expertise.

Reasons to Keep Gel Blasters Legal

Reasons to Keep Gel Blasters Legal

On the other hand, gel blaster enthusiasts and advocates have provided counter arguments against banning or heavily restricting gel blaster ownership.

Gel Blasters as Alternatives to Firearms for Recreation

For firearm owners, gel blasters provide a lower-risk option for target practice and recreational shooting, especially in urban areas. This gives a legal outlet without needing to use real firearms.

Enthusiasts Advocating Responsible Gel Blaster Use

Most gel blaster users encourage positive practices like wearing eye protection, not modifying blasters, and being considerate around the public. With proper precautions, they can be used safely.

Calls for More Consistent National Laws on Gel Blasters

Rather than a patchwork of laws between states, some argue that national standardized gel blaster regulations should be devised for fairer restrictions. This would allow legitimate use while preventing misuse.

Potential Regulations Like Licenses and Registration

Applying firearm-like licensing and registration rules could allow legal use of gel blasters while also addressing public safety concerns over misuse. This middle ground approach is favored by some.

The Future of Gel Blaster Legality in Australia

Given the divisive debate between sides arguing safety issues versus recreational rights, what might the future hold for the legality of gel blasters across Australia?

Possibility of Stricter National Gel Blaster Laws

A future likelihood is the Federal Government intervening to pass national laws restricting gel blasters to some degree. Facing pressure from police and safety advocates, tighter regulations seem inevitable.

Implementing Gel Blaster Regulations Over Bans

Rather than following states like Tasmania with outright bans, the preferred compromise by authorities could be standardized gel blaster registration and licensing modelled on firearm regulations. This allows legal use under controlled conditions rather than prohibiting ownership.

Continued Debate Between Safety vs Recreation

Even with heightened future restrictions, the core arguments around public safety versus recreational shooting rights will remain points of contention. Ongoing debate between stakeholder groups is expected.

In summary, the legality of gel blaster ownership and use remains inconsistently regulated between Australian states. While they are banned by law in some jurisdictions like Tasmania, other states allow recreational enjoyment if proper precautions are taken.

However, the trend appears to be towards increasing gel blaster restrictions nationally rather than continuing loose definitions as “toys”. Stronger state laws and possible Federal regulations seem imminent due to concerns around injuries and the potential for gel blaster misuse in crimes.

But outright bans also face resistance from responsible users advocating gel blasters as safer alternatives to firearms for sports shooting and target practice, especially in urban areas.

Ongoing debate between pro-restriction groups prioritizing public safety versus pro-legalization advocates arguing gel blasters provide a controlled recreational outlet will likely continue even as regulations tighten.

With gel blaster popularity surging in Australia, the legal landscape around using these controversial toy guns looks set to keep changing in the coming years as the search continues for a balanced approach. 

For those considering purchasing a gel blaster, be sure to carefully check the current laws in your state first, as punishments for illegal use are severe in some jurisdictions. While gel blaster legality may one day be standardized nationally, for now jurisdiction regulations differ markedly so be aware of your region’s rules.

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