FOLLOWING a surge in the use and possession of fake firearms (gel blasters) in Canberra this year, ACT police have now come out with a public and serious warning.
From carrying them for personal protection, to pointing replica guns at neighbours or posting selfies with them online, ACT police have seen a worrying increase of similar incidents over the past 12 months.
Police say gel blasters, also referred to as “gel ball blasters”, are classified as prohibited firearms in the ACT as they mechanically function as air guns, and also as they closely resemble other military-style firearms.
ACT delegate to the Registrar of Firearms, detective sergeant Rodney Swain says he wanted to stress the seriousness of these incidents.
“If you are in possession of a gel blaster in public, you run the risk of police seeing it as a real firearm,” he says.
“Earlier this year a person holding a gel blaster was engaged by police, with a beanbag round used to subdue them.
“Given the realistic nature of the gel blaster being carried by this person, the incident could have ended a lot differently.
“While these items are legal in some Australian states and available from internet sellers, they are classed as illegal firearms in the ACT.
“It is illegal to possess them, it is illegal to import them into the ACT, and those who do will face severe penalties.”
Police say any person found in possession of a gel blaster may be charged under Section 42 (unauthorised possession/use of prohibited firearms) or Section 43 (unauthorised possession/use of firearms other than prohibited) of the “Firearms Act 1996”. These are serious offences, carrying a penalty of up to 10 years imprisonment.
Police say people in possession of a gel blaster should surrender them to the ACT Policing Exhibit Management Centre on 86 Vicars Street, Mitchell.
Anyone with information about the possession or sale of gel blasters or other illegal firearms is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333000, or via the Crime Stoppers ACT website.