Realistic replica firearms are rightly restricted by the NSW Firearms Act 1996, because they are regularly used to commit crimes. The fact is they look like the real thing and are used to intimidate people in robberies and other crimes. Imitation firearms also cause problems for police to accurately assess risk during an incident forcing them to treat the situation, whether the weapon is real or fake, as a potential lethal force incident.
So, in theory the law says you can’t just buy an imitation hand gun any more than you can walk around with a fully loaded, functional hand gun. But there’s a huge exception in the Act.
Section 4D of the Firearms Act says none of the regulations apply to “an imitation firearm … that is produced and identified as a children’s toy”.
The problem with this is that so long as you call it a children’s toy at the point of sale, there is no restriction on walking around with a very authentic looking weapon. Of course, once you start threatening people with it, that’s a crime.
But these imitation weapons are readily available for legal purchase, so they are readily available to be used for criminal purposes. The Greens believe it is time this “toy” loophole was firmly closed.
Greens MP and Justice Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:
“Regardless of how realistic the weapon is, if it’s sold in a bag and with the word ‘toy’ on it or it includes a removable red plastic cap then it can be sold to anyone, including young children, without restriction.
“There’s a hole in the Firearms Act you could drive a truck through, and it’s very simple to close, and that’s to remove the exception for these lifelike “toy” firearms.
“It shouldn’t be this easy to purchase something that looks like exactly like a gun and can used to threaten people as though it was a gun.
“If you were to see one of these ‘toys’ on the street, you’d be forgiven for being seriously anxious at what looks like a military-grade weapon.
“This isn’t about banning toy water pistols or nerf guns, this is about limiting access to lifelike metal replicas that have the exact look and feel of assault rifles and semi-automatic pistols.
“To anyone working in a petrol station late at night, or walking alone on a quiet street, these will look like lethal weapons, not toys.
“For police, there’s no way to distinguish these realistic imitation guns from the real thing, and that’s a recipe for disaster,” Mr Shoebridge said.