Gel blasters, those colorful toy guns that shoot water-filled gel beads, have become incredibly popular in Malaysia over the past decade. Unlike in many other countries, gel blasters are actually illegal here. But that hasn’t stopped them from becoming a widespread phenomenon, especially among teenagers and young adults.
You can trace the origins of the gel blaster craze in Malaysia back to around 2010. Before then, airsoft guns that shot small plastic pellets were the main option for anyone looking to play simulated combat games. But airsoft guns were heavily regulated as real firearms under Malaysian law.
When gel blasters came along, they offered an enticing alternative – what essentially looked like toy versions of real guns firing harmless water pellets. Needless to say, gel blasters became an immediate hit, and their popularity grew exponentially through the 2010s.
Of course, due to the ultra-realistic designs of many gel blaster models, it didn’t take long for concerns to arise about these “toys” being misused or mistaken for actual weapons. And soon enough, gel blasters were also classified as firearms under the Arms Act 1960, making them just as illegal as airsoft guns.
But that didn’t stop the gel blaster trend, it only drove it underground. Today there’s a thriving black market supplying illegal gel blasters to meet continuing demand. And a constant debate still rages around whether gel blasters should be regulated like airsoft guns or banned outright. It’s a difficult issue with strong opinions on both sides.
See this post: Is Gel Blaster Legal In Philippines?
What are the Current Laws Regarding Gel Blasters in Malaysia?
Under current Malaysian law, gel blasters are categorized as firearms alongside guns like airsoft, paintball markers, and BB guns. The main regulations governing gel blasters are found in the Arms Act 1960 and its associated regulations.
According to this law, anyone found to be importing, selling, manufacturing, carrying or even possessing a gel blaster can face punishment of up to 3 years in prison, a 5000 Malaysian Ringgit fine, and multiple lashes. The same penalties apply to ammunition and accessories like gel balls.
And it’s not just criminal penalties. The police have the power to immediately confiscate or destroy any gel blasters and related equipment they encounter. Your driving licence can also be suspended if you’re caught with an illegal gel blaster in your vehicle.
However, there are some partial exemptions in the Arms Act for certain approved groups and locations. For example, supervised use of gel blasters may be allowed in enclosed, specially designated areas similar to paintball fields. Very strictly regulated gel blaster matches can also take place with special permission from state-level police departments.
See this post: Are Gel Blasters Still Illegal in 2023? USA or Australia
But by and large, casual individual possession and use of gel blasters in public places remains completely prohibited. That includes both private and public property. Simply put, gel blasters are considered just as unlawful as actual firearms outside of sanctioned events.
What Are The Impact of Illegal Gel Blaster Use in Malaysia?
Despite the total ban, illegal gel blasters remain widely available, especially in Sabah and Sarawak. The black market supplies a range of models smuggled in from countries like China and Thailand where they can be purchased legally.
Predictably, this has led to rapidly increasing issues from the unregulated use of gel blasters across Malaysia. The media regularly reports injuries, deaths, and also crimes involving gel blasters, particularly among teenagers.
There are rising numbers of severe eye injuries and even a few fatalities resulting from irresponsible use. Criminals, including youth gangs, have also realized the advantages of gel blasters for intimidation and robberies. Being replica guns, gel blasters can credibly be used to threaten victims while avoiding firearms charges.
Enforcing the country’s gel blaster ban has also put a real strain on police resources. Regular raids seize thousands of illegal units, but officials admit they are fighting a losing battle against smuggling. And dangerous encounters can happen when police mistake illegal gel blasters for real weapons.
Many experts on public safety argue that the prohibitionist approach has clearly failed. Irresponsible use continues underground, draining law enforcement assets that could be deployed more productively elsewhere. There are increasing calls to urgently rethink and reform gel blaster regulations.
Perspectives on Gel Blaster Regulations in Malaysia
When it comes to reforming Malaysia’s rigid gel blaster ban, some of the different perspectives include:
Maintaining Complete Prohibition:
Some believe gel blasters are dangerous toys that have no place in society regardless of regulation. They argue the outright ban should remain strictly enforced or even strengthened.
Allowing Use in Controlled Settings:
Others say safe, regulated use of gel blasters should be permitted in sanctioned venues, similar to paintball and airsoft. This would curb black market demand.
Reclassifying Gel Blasters Like Airsoft:
More liberal voices recommend reclassifying gel blasters under a new “ imitation firearms” category with lighter restrictions like mandatory orange tips.
Removing Ban for Responsible Owners:
The most progressive view is that banning gel blasters entirely is excessive. They advocate allowing individual ownership given registration, licensing, training etc.
A Middle Ground Approach:
Many propose a pragmatic compromise between safety and liberties. This could potentially involve some deregulation while still imposing some significant restrictions.
There are reasonable arguments from all sides. The core challenge is balancing public safety against individual freedom and preventing misuse without overreach. These factors will all play a role in shaping the future policy direction.
Will Gel Blasters be allowed in Malaysia in future?
Trying to predict the future trajectory of gel blaster laws in Malaysia involves plenty of uncertainty. On one hand, there seems to be little real political motivation for relaxing the outright ban currently in place.
But on the other hand, experts point out it’s impossible to completely suppress an activity as popular as gel blasting when legal means are denied. Just look at what happened during alcohol prohibition in America as an example.
Interestingly, other Asian countries that once heavily restricted gel blasters are now slowly starting to deregulate them. Australia, for instance, has begun allowing licensed gel blaster use in many states after recognizing the problems with prohibition. Several other countries like Japan and Korea also permit gel blasters under firearms licenses.
Many expect that if gel blasters remain illegal in Malaysia, a larger black market will emerge supplying more dangerous illegal modifications like metal balls. This could potentially force a regulatory change within the next decade.
A more optimistic outcome would see gel blasters ultimately regulated through a permit or license system akin to airsoft or paintball. This would allow their use in structured, supervised environments by law-abiding owners.
But safety concerns will likely remain around misuse, modifications, and replica looks. So even if legalized, gel blasters would still probably face some stiff restrictions. The safest prediction is that the debate will continue evolving for years to come.
Here are several news articles, all of which are about Gel Blasters.