Pair charged after gel blasters lock down school

TWO men have been released on bail after they were arrested and charged with allegedly shooting gel blaster guns outside a Townsville primary school.

Wulguru State School was put into lockdown on Wednesday morning, amid reports two men were carrying firearms nearby.

Country Patrol Group Acting Inspector Steve Batterham said a member of the community called triple-0 after spotting the men in possession of the firearms.

"Allegedly they were firing them but more at signs and at trees, thinking they were having fun … not directing them at any people," he said.

"Just like paintballs and skirmish, if you get hit in the eye or something with them, it can cause serious damage and you would obviously be charged with that."

Acting Insp Batterham said Queensland Police would be working with key stakeholders including suppliers of gel blasters to come up with strategies that encourage the safe and responsible use of gel blaster guns.

It comes after Police Minister Mark Ryan made a request to tighten regulations on gel blaster guns after a spate of incidents in Queensland.

 

Gel blaster guns found in possession of two men outside Wulguru State School.
Gel blaster guns found in possession of two men outside Wulguru State School.

 

Queensland Police charged three men who allegedly used the guns to shoot up Stanthorpe State High School on May 15, the day after a Toowoomba woman was shot in the stomach.

On Easter Sunday, a Condon mother said her young girls were shot at with gel blaster guns as they walked to her partner's place in Rasmussen.

"It causes fear and alarm to people, particularly when a school goes into lockdown, some of those kids could be traumatised, teachers as well, for months on end," Acting Insp Batterham said.

"I've been a police officer for nearly 30 years and if I saw those, absolutely I would think they have a firearm."

The precautionary lockdown at Wulguru State School lasted about 20 minutes, before classes resumed.

"After the incident, police attended the school and reassured the school community of what had happened," Acting Insp Batterham said.

"Our message would be to parents and guardians and kids who have them … just have a discussion around the dining table about what is right and wrong in terms of using them … it is a growing phenomenon.

"Please do not take them out into the public domain where the community can see them … go to a private property where you are out of view of the community and play with them there."

Gel blaster guns are legal in Queensland and can be purchased over the counter, without a licence.

However, it is a criminal offence to carry a replica weapon in public - punishable by jail time and significant fines. South Australia has also legalised gel blasters, but they are banned in NSW and Victoria. Western Australia is undecided.