Gel blasters have exploded in popularity in recent years as a fun outdoor hobby and sport. These toy guns use spring or electric mechanisms to shoot out gel pellets, providing exciting yet safer recreational shooting compared to airsoft guns or paintball markers.
With their ultra-realistic look and ability to mimic real firearms, gel blasters have also faced growing legislation and regulation across different states and countries. But can anyone easily walk into a store or go online to buy a gel blaster? Let’s take a closer look.
Can Anyone Buy A Gel Blaster?
Yes, gel blasters are 100% legal in the US. Get the scoop on how anyone can easily acquire one.
Gel Blaster Laws and Regulations in the USA
Unlike regular Nerf-style toy guns, the world of gel blasters falls into something of a legal gray area here in the United States. At the federal level, gel blasters are classified as ordinary air guns or toy guns. This means there are no specific restrictions around gel blaster purchases or ownership at the national level.
But regulation gets more complicated at the state and local levels. Individual states, counties and cities have started enacting a wide range of laws restricting or completely banning the sale and use of gel blasters.
For instance, states like California and Hawaii have total gel blaster bans, whereas other areas may require permits or have age restrictions. So legality can vary quite drastically depending on where you live.
Age Restrictions for Buying Gel Blasters
Most states allow the purchase of gel blasters for ages 14 and above. A few states prohibit sales to those under 18 years old. For example, in Queensland, Australia, you must be at least 18 to legally buy a gel blaster without parental supervision.
Some online stores may have age restrictions as well, requiring photo ID or proof of age documentation during checkout. So always check your local laws before trying to buy a gel blaster either in stores or online.
States Where Gel Blaster Use is Banned
As mentioned earlier, the strictest gel blaster regulations exist in states like California and Hawaii. These two states currently prohibit the purchase, sale, ownership or use of any kind of gel blaster. Hawaii signed Senate Bill 3059 into law in June 2020 which bans all gel blasters categorized as air guns or devices that expel a projectile.
In California, gel blasters are classified as imitation firearms, making them illegal under existing state laws. Local city ordinances in Los Angeles, San Francisco and other areas also prohibit gel blaster possession or use.
So unfortunately, gel blaster enthusiasts in Hawaii or California are out of luck for now. But laws can potentially be reversed or amended over time as gel blasters gain more mainstream popularity and acceptance.
Related Article: Are Gel Blasters Still Illegal in 2023? USA or Australia
Buying and Owning Gel Blasters in Australia
Across the Pacific, Australia has some of the most clearly defined gel blaster laws anywhere in the world. Up until recently, gel blasters occupied a legal gray area even in Australia. But several states including Queensland and New South Wales have enacted legislation bringing gel blasters under firearm regulations.
Gel blasters are now classified as Category H firearms in Queensland as of November 2021. This means you must have a valid firearm license to purchase or own a gel blaster in Queensland.
There are different types of firearm licenses like recreational, sports shooter or collector licenses. You must pass safety training and background checks to be approved for a firearm license in order to legally buy, sell or use gel blasters.
In NSW, gel blasters were reclassified as prohibited firearms in February 2021. This means you must obtain a special gel blaster permit from the firearms registry. Along with the permit, you must have a firearm license, pass background checks, comply with safe storage requirements and follow designated gel blaster playing fields and club rules. There are also restrictions on importing certain high-powered gel blaster models into Australia.
So in summary, Australia has stringent gel blaster laws in place treating them similar to real firearms in many respects. Having valid permits and licenses is mandatory for those looking to legally participate in this fast-growing gel blaster sport and hobby.
Are There Any Safety Concerns with Gel Blasters?
Overall, gel blasters are considered pretty safe for recreational usage – especially with proper protective gear and supervision. The water-based gel pellets have minimal mass, so direct impacts cause less pain and injury compared to metal BBs or paintballs. The exception is potential eye injuries if goggles are not worn. At close range, gel blaster projectiles can damage sensitive eye tissues.
Another issue revolves around gel blasters being mistaken for real guns. Law enforcement officials across the U.S., Australia and other countries have unfortunately shot people holding gel blasters after mistaking them as lethal firearms. This occurs especially when gel blasters are painted black with no bright coloration.
To enjoy gel blasting safely and legally, make sure to follow basic precautions. Always wear thick eye protection like paintball goggles. Avoid pointing gel blasters at anyone’s face or eyes. Use gel blasters only in designated areas or private property with owner consent.
Comply with all local laws regarding public brandishing or display. And keep the muzzle pointed downrange when not actively shooting. Following these simple safety tips will keep you and others protected while having a blast with gel blasters!
Where Can You Buy Gel Blasters?
Assuming gel blasters are legal to purchase and use in your particular area, you have a few options on where to buy them. Online retailers provide the widest selection and easiest access to the latest gel blaster models and brands. Popular sites like eBay, Amazon or specialty stores like GelBlasterGun.com ship gel blasters worldwide directly to your door. Just be sure to verify your local laws first.
Brick-and-mortar hobby shops, gun stores or outdoor sporting retailers may carry gel blasters in stock too. But availability might depend on your specific state or city ordinances. Your best bet may be small specialty shops focusing on gel blasters, airsoft and paintball equipment. Some gaming conventions or trade shows may also have gel blaster vendors on site.
And you can sometimes score used or second-hand gel blasters through private sales as well. Check local listings on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace or apps like Letgo. Ask about any included accessories and test functionality before purchasing used gel blasters. Private sales usually don’t verify age, so use good judgment and discretion depending on laws in your jurisdiction.
With gel blasters continuing to gain notoriety across the U.S. and globally, more avenues to purchase keep opening up. Just remember to educate yourself on all local ordinances and handle these ultra-realistic devices safely, responsibly and legally. Follow the proper procedures for licensing and permits if required in your area. And you’ll be all set to start recreating action-packed shootouts and skirmishes with the power of gel!
In summary, gel blasters provide an exciting new way to enjoy immersive shooting games and activities safely. But due to their highly realistic appearance, gel blaster laws remain complex and varied across different states and countries. You must research local regulations thoroughly before attempting to buy or use a gel blaster.
With the right precautions and proper supervision, gel blasters can be operated safely for all ages. As more people discover this dynamic hobby, we may see a relaxing and unifying of gel blaster legislation worldwide.
For now, verify your jurisdiction’s specific ordinances and follow all safety protocols to blast gels while staying on the right side of the law. With a responsible approach, you can experience all the thrills gel blasters offer through safe, legal and proper handling.