In a recent announcement, the South Australian Police have announced they are now treating gel blasters (a recreational item similar to paintball markers) as equivalent to firearms under the SA Firearms Act 2015 and Firearms Regulations 2017. This decision comes despite SAPOL communications describing them as “imitation firearms”, and with no mention of their exclusive recreational use on private properties.
Pirate Party councillor, and resident of SA, David Kennedy, believes this is an overbearing response for a range of entertainment products which are common in many states and countries.
“This seems to be a clear case of law enforcement overreach, conflating unregistered weapons with battery powered toys enjoyed by many responsible citizens. A more balanced approach could stipulate that new gel blasters be designed so they appear visibly different to actual firearms, rather than outlawing them entirely. The majority shouldn’t be criminalised due to a small number who may have used them irresponsibly. Nobody with experience of real guns would confuse a toy with a real weapon.”
The Pirate Party considers this regulation to be overreach which is driven by fearmongering and a small number of bad actors who have misbehaved in public. We support the right of all Australians to enjoy the sports of gel balling as well as related activities such as airsoft and paintball in a manner that is safe and fun.
The lack of community consultation with affected individuals or sporting and recreation organisations such as the Gel Blaster Association of Australia is deplorable. Foundational to a democratic society is seeking input from all interested parties, and the principle of direct democracy requires input from those directly affected.
Pirate Party Australia calls on the SA Minister for Police the Hon. Corey Wingard to move legislation overriding this decision of the SAPOL. We refer to the recent amendment of the Queensland Weapons Act 1990 which allows a “reasonable excuse” for not holding a firearms licence if the gelblaster owner is a member of an appropriate association as a possible compromise between deregulation and the SAPOL’s hardline anti-sporting stance.
Pirate Party National President and Queensland resident Miles Whiticker supports this compromise. “I have been gelballing as long as it’s been in Australia. I’d be playing airsoft too if the markers weren’t treated like firearms. I’m glad to live in a state that is now the most permissive state in Australia for gelballing, where I can still enjoy this hobby peacefully and safely.”
Individuals wishing to support lighter regulations can donate to support the Gel Bal Association of Australia’s upcoming class action against SAPOL: https://www.gofundme.com/f/gel-blaster-industry-class-action-against-sapol