Gel blasters declared imitation guns by SA Police following public shootings - ABC News

Gel blasters will be regulated like other firearms in South Australia from tomorrow, as police crack down on the weapons following a series of incidents causing injury.

Key points:

All owners and new purchasers of gel blasters will be required to have a licence and store the weapons like regular guns.

The weapons — which can be made to closely resemble assault rifles — will only be permitted to be used in licensed venues including paintball facilities.

SA Police today said a gun amnesty would be extended to include gel blasters until April 2021, for those who do not wish to keep the weapons or apply for licences.

Current owners have six months to obtain a licence but cannot use the weapons until they have one.

Superintendent Stephen Howard said the guns — also known as hydro-blasters — meet the definition of a firearm for the purposes of regulation.

He said there had been more than 180 reports involving the guns in the past two years, including the shooting of a 10-year-old girl at a playground by two men who were never found.

"Not only do they fire a projectile, but they also look like a firearm of a different category or class," Superintendent Howard said.

"People were committing crimes or doing stupid things with them … we shouldn't wait for someone to be either killed or seriously injured due to an incident involving gel blasters."

A man was arrested after allegedly pointing a gel blaster at another car on Augusta Highway.(Supplied: SA Police)

A man allegedly pointed a gel blaster at another car travelling at high speed on the Augusta Highway in the state's north last month.

Another victim sustained eye injuries when he was shot from a passing car north of Adelaide earlier this year.

Superintendent Howard said SA Police had a responsibility to protect the public from the threat of physical and psychological harm.

"A lot of people say these are toys, but they're not toys. These don't meet the definition," he said.

"You could threaten someone with a gel blaster, and the person would either be concerned, 'Am I going to get shot by a gel blaster or am I going to get shot by a real firearm?'"

Superintendent Howard said technical upgrades to gel blasters had made them more dangerous.

He said while the decision would impact retailers, police had foreshadowed today's move in February this year, when the importation of gel blasters was banned.