VIC Are these Rubber Band Guns Toys or Imitation Firearms?

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17 February 2015
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I build wooden guns that shoot rubber bands as a hobby. I video them and provide plans to build some of them. However, having found out about law regarding imitation firearms, I was worried that some of these rubber band guns may be illegal.

The Victoria Police website provided a pamphlet titled "Imitation, toy and other firearm paraphernalia" which was not much use because it is such a grey area.

The following link is a video of one that I am particularly worried about because although it is obviously made entirely of wood, it bears definite resemblance to an assault rifle:

This is another video of a rubber band gun which I feel is much less threatening, one that I do not believe would be considered an imitation firearm:
(You may wish to skip to 0:50 to get a good view of it)

I would like to know which of these two guns (if any) might be classified as imitation firearms, and if so what to do about them. I wish to continue my hobby and business, but not if it involves building and selling plans for imitation firearms.

Many thanks,
Jordan
 

John R

Well-Known Member
14 April 2014
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Impressive woodworking Jordan,
I'm still thinking about this interesting question and have included some thoughts below. Hopefully others in the forum will contribute their feedback. That said, because this appears to be a growing hobby and/or business for you, I strongly suggest for you to get formal legal advice for peace of mind.

Criminal Offence
Section 5AB of the Control of Weapons Act 1990 (VIC) makes it an offence to possess, use or carry an imitation firearm:
Offence to possess, use or carry an imitation firearm

(1) A non-prohibited person must not possess, use or carry an imitation firearm without an exemption under section 8B or an approval under section 8C.
Penalty: 240 penalty units or imprisonment for 2 years.

(2) A prohibited person must not possess, use or carry an imitation firearm.
Penalty: 1200 penalty units or imprisonment for 10 years.
Legal Definition of an Imitation Firearm
From section 3 of the Control of Weapons Act 1990 (VIC) actual legal definition of an imitation firearm is as follows:
"imitation firearm" means a device—
(a) the appearance of which could reasonably be mistaken for that of an operable firearm; but
(b) which is not designed or adapted to discharge shot or a bullet or other missile by the expansion of gases produced in the device by the ignition of strongly combustible materials or by compressed air or other gases, whether stored in the device in pressurised containers or produced in the device by mechanical means and is not capable of being made to do so;
Victoria Police Quick Guide - Definition of Imitation Firearm vs Toy Firearm
The Victoria Police Quick Guide is, as worded, intended to be a quick guide only but it does provide some helpful information about influencing considerations (e.g. wood being a manufacturing material that doesn't immediately suggest a working firearm, etc.).

Is it a Toy Firearm? Consideration 1 - Appearance
  1. Toy firearms CAN resemble firearms but MUST NOT reasonably be mistaken as working firearms by the general public; and
  2. Toy firearms MUST be of a shape and size that is not associated with a working firearm; and
  3. Toy firearms MUST be coloured in a way that is not normally associated with a working firearm; and
  4. Toy firearms MUST be manufactured of materials (e.g. wood) that create the immediate impression that the device cannot be functional.
Is it a Toy Firearm? Consideration 2 - Functionality
  1. Toy firearms MUST NOT have the functionality of working firearms (this includes, per the definition of above imitation firearm, "not designed or adapted to discharge shot or a bullet or other missile (emphasis added because this may be broadly interpreted to include a rubber band) by the expansion of gases produced in the device by the ignition of strongly combustible materials or by compressed air or other gases, whether stored in the device in pressurised containers or produced in the device by mechanical means and is not capable of being made to do so"); and
  2. Toy firearms MUST be solely manufactured and used for the purpose of a plaything or for providing amusement.
 
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Ponala

Well-Known Member
10 February 2015
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What u make are TOYS.
  1. Toy firearms MUST be manufactured of materials (e.g. wood) that create the immediate impression that the device cannot be functional.
  2. Does not rely on the expansion of gases produced in the device by the ignition of strongly combustible materials or by compressed air or other gases, whether stored in the device in pressurised containers or produced in the device by mechanical means and is not capable of being made to do so.

Made from wood and doesn't use 'gases', compressed air, gunpowder etc to fire.
 
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17 February 2015
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Thanks for your input, John and Ponala.
Would it at all be advisable to contact the police about this and seek their adivce? My instinct shouts "No! They will arrest you!" but perhaps I'm a little paranoid...
 

Ponala

Well-Known Member
10 February 2015
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No need to go to the Police. It is not a firearm at all. I have been a copper for 25 years, and a number of those spent as a prosecutor. It is a toy, no issues about it.
 
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John R

Well-Known Member
14 April 2014
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Hi @Ponala,
Great insights. What's your take on the requirement for a toy firearm to be a different shape and size to a real or imitation firearm?
I can't quite work out from the video what size the wooden guns are.
 
17 February 2015
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@John R ,
The long guns that I make (such as the M16 in the attached video) are not quite full-size, but are not small "child-sized" toys either. They are somewhere in between, about 9/10th scale. However the pistols that I make are full-size.
 

Adam1user

Well-Known Member
5 January 2018
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Thanks for your input, John and Ponala.
Would it at all be advisable to contact the police about this and seek their adivce? My instinct shouts "No! They will arrest you!" but perhaps I'm a little paranoid...
Nice work. I liked them,
Don't be afraid to ask, you are not doing anything wrong, if it turned out not acceptable (which I doubt), they will let you know and I am sure they will not arrest you as you are seeking information and not doing anything to harm anyone, but better seek a lawyer's advice.
 

Scruff

Well-Known Member
25 July 2018
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NSW
Some common sense needs to be applied here. The gun in the second video is not an issue, but the one in the first video most certainly is. Want proof?

Build it, paint it dark grey or black, then run through a shopping centre with it and see what happens.
That can easily be mistaken as a real firearm from a distance if it's painted the right colour.