A move to regulate gel blasters in South Australia will ultimately result in more real guns in the community, the Shooters Union says.
SA president Peter Heggie says the union opposes the move by police to force people who own gel blasters to obtain a firearms licence.
But he says his group is looking at the positive in the changed situation, with more people likely to get firearms and take up shooting as a result.
It believes if people go to the trouble and cost of obtaining a firearms licence, they are more likely to also buy real guns and potentially try sports shooting or go hunting.
“Welcoming all these new people to the wonderful world of responsible gun ownership is going to do wonders for normalising shooting and hunting in South Australia, and mean there are lots more licensed shooters and actual guns in the state,” Mr Heggie said.
“This will do far more to promote the shooting sports in South Australia than any other event in the past 20 years.”
From Friday, gel blasters, which use compressed air to fire a projectile and often look like a real gun, became regulated imitation firearms, forcing owners to obtain a firearms licence within six months.
Police estimate there are currently about 62,000 of the blasters in circulation in SA.
Firearms Branch Superintendent Stephen Howard said the firing mechanism met the threshold to be defined a firearm.
“A gel blaster can easily be mistaken for a real firearm, with potential to cause concern in the community and trigger a police response that could involve the use of police firearms, or other tactical options,” Supt Howard said.
Owners who don’t wish to obtain a licence can instead surrender their blasters to police or a firearms dealer under an amnesty to continue until April next year.
The changes also mean the sale of blasters will become regulated across SA.
Enthusiasts protested the changes on the steps of Parliament House in Adelaide over the weekend, with concerns raised over the future of stores which supply the blasters.