Alrighty, here’s a rundown from the front-lines here in WA:
On Monday, June 14th 2021, Paul Papalia and Chris Dawson mutually announced that gel blasters are “banned” and we have until July 3rd to hand them in. That’s all the amnesty that was given. No buy-back, no consultation, no communication with the community or associated businesses beyond a single meeting with a local group that does not actually or accurately represent the gelball community and the contents of which have yet to be divulged.
Thus far, emails and phone calls to any MP in Labor or police representative has, by and large, resulted in a template copy+paste that cites various QLD laws and processes and repeats illogical and erroneous claims from said press conference (which I’m not going to repeat because we’re all sick of talking about it).
Papalia has stated this ban will be enacted by a proposed change to the Weapons Act 1999 whereupon gel blasters will be made a “prohibited weapon”. This means no regulatory measures will be taken like licensing such as in paintball and whatnot. They will be prohibited via “blanket ban” and illegal to possess.
Making this change would require Papalia to officially Gazette this proposed change at some point before the July 3rd date. As of today 1st July, he has not. It would seem the provisions allowed to him for making small changes that don’t require Parliament to waste their time talking about would mean he could sneak this type of change through to “law” by making said proposed change to The Weapons Act 1999.
So, according to what I, a layperson, understand about how this can come about, if he hasn’t put it in the gazette and hasn’t made the official change to The Weapons Act 1999, then until that happens, there is no need to hand them in nor are they illegal nor can charges be brought (lest they be laughed out of court).
We’ve got a meeting teed up with a nominated representative of Chris Dawson. Which is fancy talk for Top Cop Knocked Us Back and we got the poor sap that’s saddled with having to answer for a lot of the BS that’s been claimed by police. Or Not The Top Cop. This is yet to be scheduled but is likely for next week or the week after.
Mark McGowan’s office has replied and said flat-out that we weren’t ever getting in for a meeting but that they’d get Papalia to get back to us (he has not, in any way). Many other MPs have replied as well but, if they’re Labor, it’s the same copy+paste stuff. If they’re not Labor, they tend to be VERY interested and the Legalise Cannabis guy even said he wants to come to the protests. The rest tend to write back and agree this ban is absolute horsesh*t. Some Labor MPs have said that they’ve forwarded our information on to Paul Papalia’s office, so at the very least maybe some of his fellow MPs might get through to him.
What we know at this point is that either COVID, interal pressure, external pressure (causing internal pressure) or simply being forced to Follow The Fkn Rules has prevented Paul Papalia from changing The Weapons Act 1999 thus far and it’s unlikely he’ll do so before 3rd July.
People that have handed their blasters in or have inquired about doing so have been told a myriad of things such as:
- “Gel blaster” consists of the parts that put together would make a functioning blaster – so taking in all the parts that, if assembled, would make a functioning blaster, constitutes turning in a blaster.
- Overall advice has also centred around simply binning your blasters instead of handing them in.
- COVID Lockdown means blaster hand-in is non-essential travel and police have advised simply destroying one’s blasters and putting them in the bin.
- Advice from gelballers includes (aside from NOT handing them in) things like: Disassemble blasters so that they can’t be “posed” for police to take pictures of and triumphantly spread around on Social Media (like happened today with Goldfields police in WA).
- You cannot augment a gel blaster to be a replica firearm and therefore legal. If it was born a gel blaster, that’s how it’ll always be.
Gel balls are considered “ammunition” and are supposed to be a part of the hand-in. Unless they are labelled “Orbeez” or otherwise specified for a purpose other than gel blasters. So, for example, the 100,000 gels that you have are illegal if you have them in packaging associated with gel blasters, but perfectly legal if they are in packaging for otherwise (garden, essential oils, etc).
So depending on what’s been actually done by the 3rd of July, the Weapons Act 1999 might not have been changed and therefore the legal requirement to hand in blasters might not exist. We’re waiting anxiously to see.
Following that and in the ensuing months, us activists will focus on:
- Getting a meeting with Paul Papalia to ask him directly to actually consider the people in his proposed changes, among other things, and do the right thing by the people of WA.
- Finding an MP to “sponsor” our paper petition to put to Parliament in August with the hopes of potentially overturning this ban.
- Getting meetings with Police Higher-ups in the hopes that we can convince them of the “human cost” of the BS that Papalia is proposing so that they might advise him accordingly.
All this will include constant email/phone pressure with MPs and Police as well as media campaigns that will cover various aspects of the consequences of this proposed ban (see aforementioned “human cost” among others) as there are many.
On top of all that, the fundraisers go directly towards paying the lawyers (yes, the good ones – yes the one from WA you’re thinking of) for the goods to either bring a case against Papalia et al or to defend if they, dog forbid, seek to actually attempt to enforce this BS and bring charges (which they never actually have) and we end up fighting it in court.
Thus far, no other entities or organisations have formally contacted us with regards to collaboration or aide with regards to this fight against the gel blaster ban in WA, legally, financially or otherwise.
That said, there have been MANY of you folks that have contacted us with offers of help, be it financial, administrative or even emotional, and we appreciate you all. Your contributions, suggestions and advice have been of a huge help and some of you are among the only reasons we’re able to keep going.
Thanks heaps to you all, you are all legends. We all hope we say it enough for you to know.
-Perth GBG Team