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Gel-blaster disaster: Police arrest man, warn fake firearms will cause tragedy

A 45-year-old man has been charged with going armed to cause fear on the Gold Coast after yet another gun scare at the weekend involving a gel-blaster.

Sep 12, 2022, updated Sep 12, 2022
Queensland is the only state not to treat gel blasters as a weapon following a move by Western Australia to introduce new restrictions. WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson holds the real gun and Police Minister Paul Papalia has the gel blaster.(ABC News: Eliza Laschon )(ABC image).

Queensland is the only state not to treat gel blasters as a weapon following a move by Western Australia to introduce new restrictions. WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson holds the real gun and Police Minister Paul Papalia has the gel blaster.(ABC News: Eliza Laschon )(ABC image).

Gel-blasters, replica firearms that only shoot gel balls, are illegal in all Australian states except Queensland where they are not classified as a weapon.

In the latest of a growing list of firearms scares involving gel blasters across the state, the man was arrested for trespassing, going armed to cause fear and other weapons offences after allegedly wearing a holster on his hip and carrying the fake handgun in the busy Gold Coast suburb of Southport on Saturday.

Gold Coast Superintendent Geoff Sheldon said calls had flooded into police about the allegedly armed man.

“Guns were drawn and it was a fair dinkum full-on confrontation and luckily it’s ended safely,” Sheldon said.

“But we are quite concerned about the proliferation of people getting out and about in public with these gel blasters. Whether it’s a rifle or a handgun, it causes a great deal of public alarm. One day we’re worried it could end up with really serious consequences.”

Sheldon told ABC Gold Coast the number of gel blaster incidents was growing, and were being taken seriously by police.

“We are worried that the day we think, ‘oh it’s just another gel-blaster,’ that we might end up on world news. It’s one of those things that needs a serious response every time,” he said.

Late last month, frightened members of the public called police to two gel-blaster incidents in two days.

In one, a 12-year-old was arrested and charged on the Gold Coast after fears he was carrying a weapon through Southport.

Police discovered the boy had been carrying a gel blaster and he was charged under the Youth Justice Act with going armed as to cause fear.

A day later, two teenagers were arrested near the Pacific Fair shopping centre in Broadbeach on the Gold Coast after police received reports the pair were carrying a weapon. The two youths escaped with a caution.

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In other incidents, 40-year-old business owner Patrick White, who shot a gel-blaster at an Ascot home in Brisbane because the victim’s cat kept fighting with his cat, was sentenced late last month to a $350 good behaviour bond for six months.

In July, a 32-year-old man was charged with two counts of going armed to cause fear and possession of a knife in a public place after police received reports of an armed man roaming a public garden in Rockhampton around 9:30am.

In June at Springwood between Brisbane and the Gold Coast, police charged two people with weapons and drugs offences after a man allegedly brandished a gun, that turned out to be a gel-blaster, as he sped out of the carpark of a fast-food restaurant on the Pacific Highway. The woman he was with was charged with drugs offences and possessing fireworks.

Also in June, two men allegedly threatened an 18-year-old with a gun, that turned out to be a gel-blaster, and tried to rob him at Waterford near Tamborine Mountain west of the Gold Coast. The two men wearing balaclavas allegedly demanded the 18-year-old’s jacket, wallet and phone, then shot him in the face with gel pellets from the gel-blaster.

Under changes to the Queensland law in 2021, replica firearms such as gel-blasters were removed from classification as a firearm or category of weapon.

Buyers don’t need a licence to get a gel-blaster in Queensland. However, owners must store them safely and they must be covered when being carried in public.

 

 

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