Owning a toy gun in New South Wales can get you thrown in jail for many years, in a situation Shooters Union has slammed as “mind-bogglingly stupid”.

Gel Blasters – plastic toy guns that outwardly resemble actual firearms but fire small harmless soft gel pellets – have been classified as real firearms in NSW and possessing one without the appropriate gun licence carries a potential penalty of five years imprisonment.

Shooters Union Australia president Graham Park said classifying gel blasters as real guns was mind-bogglingly stupid and went to show what a nanny state NSW had become. “I’m not aware of any other Western country on the planet where merely owning a literal toy gun can get you several years in prison,” Mr Park said.

“Between the lockout laws, classifying gel blasters as guns, and general nanny state-ism, it seems the NSW government is going out of its way to ensure no-one between Tweed Heads and the Murray River gets to have a good time.”

The Australian Border Force, Queensland and South Australia have declared gel blasters are unequivocally toys, and there are now several businesses in Queensland doing a roaring trade in the items following the decision.

Mr Park said even if someone in NSW wanted to get a licence for a gel blaster, they would probably struggle as many gel blasters bore some resemblance to restricted real-life military guns such as FN-P90, and fell afoul of NSW’s controversial appearance laws which essentially ban ownership of ‘scary-looking’ guns.

Also concerning, and equally ridiculous, is an NSW police decision that the hyrdolised gel balls the toys use – similar to water retaining crystals used by many gardeners – meet the definition of “ammunition”, meaning possession without a licence is also a crime.

Shooters Union is calling on the NSW government to acknowledge that gel blasters are toys and amend their firearms legislation – or interpretation thereof – accordingly. “They are toys, they can’t kill or maim anyone, and there’s no reason to treat them as actual guns for any reason besides wanting to stop other people from having fun,” Mr Park said.

“The reality is they’re legally available elsewhere in the country, there are huge quantities of them being legally sold in those places, and the sooner NSW acknowledges that and legalises them, the better.”

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