Wide Bay gel blaster retailers and field operators have welcomed the new laws around the toys that take effect from February 1.

In 17 days, it will be an offence for people to openly carry gel blasters, which could be confused with a weapon or firearm, and they must be stored in a safe lockable place.

M4A1 Gel Blaster Hervey Bay manager Rikki-Lee Denyer said they were “all for harsher penalties for those that do the wrong thing”.

“We always have been, because for the people that shop with us, even our staff, this is a sport and a hobby not just a job,” she said.

“All it takes is one person to do the wrong thing and it ruins it for the rest of us.”

Used for recreational purposes for the sport of gel balling, the toys are also collected as replica weapons.

Queensland Police service acting assistant commissioner Brian Connors said since 2018, more than 100 people had been charged with misusing a gel blaster, which could attract a jail term of more than two years.

The Hervey Bay retail store which opened in September 2019 has refused customers buying a gel blaster only a handful of times.

“Whenever we sell to a customer, whether it’s their first blaster or their tenth blaster, we go through the Stop and Think campaign with them,” she said.

“We talk about what they’re looking for, and what they want to do with it, and if we believe they’re going to use it in an unreasonable manner, then we refuse the sale.”

Susan River Gel Ball owner Bob Davis, who sees about 100 gel ball players every Sunday, said education was key.

“Around here we have a gel ball charter, and that is: respect, safety and honesty,” he said.

“And if people aren’t prepared to abide by that then they aren’t welcome.

“I don’t want to see the good people punished by too many strict laws because of idiots.”

The legislation details:

– Replica firearms, such as gel blasters, will not be classified as a firearm or category of weapon.

– Replica firearms do not require a licence or need to be registered with Weapons Licensing.

– When not in use, gel blasters must be stored securely, for example, in a locked cupboard or a bag, but not necessarily in a gun safe.

– When being transported, a gel blaster must be out of sight, for example, in the boot of a car or in a bag that does not silhouette a firearm.

– Anyone owning a gel blaster must have a reasonable excuse for having one, for example, being a collector of replica weapons, or a member of a club that uses them recreationally.

With the support of the industry, the Stop and Think awareness campaign was started in 2019, which Commissioner Connors said would continue to promote the safe use of gel blasters as a popular past time, support small businesses that sell equipment and supplies, and ensure community safety.

“The public’s safety is of the utmost importance,” he said.

“We don’t want (gel blasters) used to threaten people or commit crimes.”

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