Gel-blaster enthusiasts shoot down calls for ban
RESIDENTS are calling for the ban of gel blasters after a gun-scare prompted police to put Warwick West State School on lockdown this week.
It's disappointing news for lovers of the sport, who have been working closely with the Queensland Police Service to kerb irresponsible use via the #stopandthink campaign.
Warwick resident and manager of a gel blaster store, Brendan Miller, said he would be devastated to see those who "do the right thing" be punished for the actions of a thoughtless few.
"We don't want to lose this sport," Mr Miller said.
"This is my livelihood, this is my job, and there's a lot of people who rely on us."
Mr Miller said the industry advises adherence to strict safety guidelines that include keeping the blasters boxed or in a bag when in public, always wearing safety glasses and never shooting anyone or anything that doesn't want to be targeted.
"There is a certain realism to them that people have to be aware of," he said.
"You've got to be cautious and you can never, ever take them out in public.
"Even if customers want to use them in their own yard, we tell them they have to notify anyone who can see into their yard and ensure they're not viewable from the street."
It is the blasters' close resemblance to rifles and handguns that present the most challenges to enthusiasts of the sport.
"All in all, they're a toy, and not a firearm," Mr Miller said.
"Some people buy them as a toy and think they can walk around with them like they would a nerf-blaster and that's clearly not the case."
While it is legal to possess a gel blaster in Queensland, using it in a public place can result in nuisance charges.
If a user points the blaster at someone who believes it is a real weapon, police can charge them with assault.
According to Mr Miller, the argument had been raised to change the appearance of the gel-blasters but "most people don't really think it's going to make much of a difference."
"But I would still enjoy it, even if it looked like a nerf blaster, if it performed the same way as they do now."
The key to the future of the sport may simply be a greater understanding.
"We thi nk it's great the police have started the stop and think campaign and they're trying to work with us to manage it," he said.
"We have local officers who come in to the store and we're happy with what they're doing."