Hey there, fellow gel blaster enthusiasts!
Have you ever wondered if it’s okay to play with gel blasters? I totally get it – I’ve been there too.
Like many other gamers like myself who grew up playing Battlefield, Call of Duty, and other shooter games, I’ve always yearned for a toy gun that simulates the firing of real ones. Gel blasters emerged as the perfect solution in the USA, and I decided to acquire them for myself. Honestly, they are every bit as enjoyable as I had imagined, if not more.
However, upon closer examination, you might encounter some legal complexities depending on your location. Therefore, it’s necessary to verify whether buying and playing with a gel ball blaster is legal in your area. In this article, I will delve into whether their use aligns with the law, shedding light on their status in different regions.
Are Gel Blasters Legal in the USA?
In short – YES, gel blasters are 100% legal in the United States. This primarily stems from the nature of projectiles employed by these them – super-absorbent water beads with minimal to no potential for causing an injury. Secondly, most blasters are bright-colored and clearly look like a toy with an orange tip at the end of the barrel. Therefore, there is rarely any chance of mistaking them for real firearms.
However, there are a few exceptions, with some states and cities imposing restrictions on these toy guns. For instance:
The New York City
In August 2022, a new state law was passed in New York, making real-looking imitation toy firearms illegal. If your gel blaster resembles a real gun, the police may confiscate it. Fortunately, you can still use a brightly colored Orbeez gun if it fulfills the four criteria (NYC Code §10-131(g)(1)) mandated by NYC consumer affairs.
- Imitation toy guns like gel ball blasters must have entirely one or more of the following colors-
- Bright purple
- Bright orange
- Bright red
- Bright yellow
- Bright blue
- Bright green
- Bright pink
- Transparent with internal content visible
- Translucent (stained or frosted glass) and white
- The barrel of the gel blaster must be plugged for at least ½ inch by material that is the same as the gun.
- It must have a stamp on it that clearly identifies the manufacturer.
- The Orbeez blaster gun cannot have a laser pointer attached to it.
Please note the term “bright” in most of the colors mentioned, as their goal is to identify a fake gun from a real one. You can check the detailed inspection checklist on the official website nyc.gov.
It’s illegal to display or expose an imitation firearm in a public place in California (Penal Code § 20170 PC), and gel blasters also fall into this category. The reasoning is the same as that for the law in New York – to prevent causing unnecessary panic and accidental casualties due to someone mistaking a toy gun for a real one. Officials have identified fourteen areas as “public places,” which you can check here.
The laws governing the possession and usage of gel blaster guns are similar yet slightly different in New Jersey. Here are the key points outlined in the new law (A4260) that you should be aware of:
- Gel ball guns must be painted a color other than black, blue, silver, or aluminum.
- They must feature an orange stripe that is at least one inch wide, running the entire length of each side of the barrel. This stripe cannot be removable.
- The barrel must have a diameter of at least one inch and be closed at a distance of at least one-half inch from the front end of the barrel. It must also be made from the same material as the rest of the gun.
Moreover, possessing a gel blaster alone is not considered a criminal offense in New Jersey. However, it is deemed illegal to use it with the intention of inducing fear or panic by presenting it as a real firearm.
Texas is an open carry state, meaning individuals carrying an imitation firearm like a gel blaster are not subject to arrest or charges under the Texas Penal Code.
However, if an individual aims an imitation firearm at another person, causing them to believe it is real, the possessor of the imitation firearm will face charges of aggravated assault.
Similar to laws of other states in the USA, Hawaii has the following regulations on §134 concerning imitation firearms-
- It is unlawful to carry or exhibit a replica gun (read: gel blaster) on any public road, street, alley or public lands, except if it is properly enclosed in a case or securely wrapped. The possession or display of this type of gun on any public school premises is prohibited, irrespective of whether it is enclosed in a case or securely wrapped.
- It is illegal to draw or display a replica gun in the presence of a law enforcement officer who is performing their official duties.
These laws vary more or less in other states. As much as I’d like to, I cannot possibly cover all the laws regarding the legality of gel blasters in each of the 50 states of the USA. However, they all share something in common.
Gel blasters must have been manufactured with a bright color that can be clearly identified as a toy gun. It must not look like a real firearm in any way.
Nobody should display or shoot a gel gun to others in order to create fear or panic. Remember, gel guns are intended for harmless recitational purposes.
As these laws vary from state to state, it’s best that you check with your local authorities before buying an Orbeez gun.
Do You Need Any License To Play With A Gel Gun?
The laws concerning gel blasters, vary by state and locality within the United States. In certain regions, they might be categorized as firearms and thus subject to stringent regulations (similar to Australia); whereas, in other areas, they might be considered legal to own and use without requiring a license.
However, in general, a license is not typically necessary for playing with a gel gun. I strongly recommend consulting your local authorities for precise information on this matter.
Also Read: Are Splat Guns Illegal?
How Old Do You Have To Be To Use A Gel Ball Blaster?
Unlike real firearms, you don’t have to wait until you’re 18 to be able to use a gel blaster. These guns are harmless toys as long as they’re used responsibly and can even be used by children.
However, it’s advisable to avoid giving a gel ball blaster to children younger than 9 years old, as they could potentially hurt themselves. While manufacturers have different age ratings on their products, as a general rule of thumb, an age limit of 9-14 years should be appropriate.
Can You Shoot A Gel Blaster Gun In Your Backyard?
You can shoot a gel ball blaster in your backyard in most places throughout the US. This applies even to states like New York and California, where you can’t display an imitation firearm in public. Since your backyard is considered private property, you’re free to act as you wish. However, for other states, I’d advise double-checking your local laws.
Learn More: Where To Play With Gel Blasters?
Is It Illegal To Remove The Orange Tip On A Gel Blaster?
If you’ve been exploring gel blaster reviews online and watching videos, you might have noticed that they often feature a bright orange tip. This might lead you to wonder whether it’s legal to remove the orange tip to give your toy gun a more realistic appearance.
Well, the answer is no, and it’s for the same exact reason – to prevent the toy from resembling a real gun. The orange tip serves a specific purpose, and there’s an important rationale behind its vibrant coloring.
Federal regulations in many states mandate that manufacturers mark imitation guns like gel blasters with orange tips to clearly distinguish them from real firearms. This measure aims to prevent public panic resulting from people mistaking an imitation gun for a genuine firearm, or potentially even someone responding with self-defense.
Removing the orange tip can not only lead to criminal charges in certain states but can also void the toy’s warranty.
Learn More: Why Do Toy Guns Have Orange Tips?
Additional Tips To Comply With The Laws/ Rules
Let’s face it – it would be unfortunate to end up facing charges solely due to owning or using a toy gun. Here are some tips on how to adhere to the laws concerning gel blasters:
- Firstly, you need to understand the law in order to comply with it. Familiarize yourself with local regulations and guidelines concerning imitation guns.
- Irrespective of whether it’s legal to use gel blasters, Orbeez guns, or splatter ball guns in your state or city, avoid shooting random people on the street with them. Such actions could lead to assault charges, especially if you inadvertently injure someone by disregarding safety guidelines.
- If you’re traveling to a different state, make sure to research the laws there if you intend to bring your gel blaster gun along.
- As mentioned earlier, removing the orange tip is illegal. Leave it intact or replace it with any other brightly colored tip that the manufacturer may have provided. Beyond this, be a responsible individual and play safely with your gel gun.