So the journey to here has been a long and drawn out process dealing with government red tape and oppressive/excessive bureaucracy.
For those that don't know, Tactical Edge Hobbies had a shipment of toy gel Blasters confiscated in March 2017.
The purpose of this blog post is to inform the general public of the process that Tactical Edge has been through over the past 12 months to not only change legislation, but to also be the first retailer to get a shipment of gel blasters released from customs. I apologise in advance for the length of the post, unfortunately the story is pretty ludicrous and needs to be explained.
So our shipment was seized in March last year and the first issue I had was that the shipment had not even arrived and the ABF told me they were going to seize it and that I would need an import permit from the police. Being fairly naive at the time I thought that this would be fairly easy and went ahead and applied for the Import permit. Whilst this was going on I still had hope that the ABF would see reason and inspect my products and realise they were toys and waive them on through. As I said, I was naive at the time.
I was actually invited to attend the inspection of the goods but when I arrived the ABF refused to let me into the compound even though they had said a few days earlier that they looked forward to seeing me. So I drove a couple of hours out of my way for no reason. Whilst I was at the compound however I did manage to capture the attention of one of the workers. He told me that the ABF were swarming the shipment like ants and there were at least a dozen cops going through each and every package. It was at this point that I realised that I was going to have a massive fight on my hands.
I was issued a seizure notice some weeks later which clearly stated that the products were imitation firearms and that a B709A permit was needed to import the products. From here I started the process of going back and forward with the QPS service. I pointed out in several emails the regulations from their own website regarding imitation firearms and Airsoft firearms, I sent emails to local members, federal members, the LDP senator Leyonhjelm and eventually the QLD police minister and the shadow minister as well.
Interestingly, the shadow minister personally called me and told me that he had several issues going on with the QPS service at the time and agreed that the QPS should issue a permit. Another interesting event was when I called the QPS authorised officer and he admitted that the products were not illegal but that he would reject my application just because he could under public interest. Either way, it turned out that my emails to the ministers worked and the QPS service issued the B709a permit.
I submitted the permit to ABF went through the claiming process and eventually booked in a time to pick up my shipment. I think it was a Wednesday that I booked in the time which was on the Friday morning at 10:00am. At 3:00pm on Thursday afternoon ABF called me and said that they were reseizing my shipment under a different classification. They were now considered Airsoft Firearms and needed several types of import permits from the QPS and also the attorney generals department.
After this my keyboard almost caught fire from the amount of complaint emails I sent. No government official took responsibility and the ABF even blatantly lied in their correspondence addressing my complaint. They answered none of my questions and basically treated me like a criminal from that point forward.
I had to wait a long 120 days for the ABF to start proceedings against me and to get the date booked for court. Unfortunately for them I managed to get in touch with the best firearms Lawyer in QLD if not the country and he had a barrister who was unbelievable.
Over the next few months we compiled the case and in the end it came down to three words "Shot, Bullet or Other". The ABF was claiming that a gel ball fell under the category of "other" and because the product uses compressed air, it was indeed a firearm. Our barrister found that "other" could not mean just anything and this is what they based our entire case on.
In December of 2017, the court date finally came around and the hearing was held in the Brisbane magistrate’s court. We apparently got one of the most notoriously harsh judges in the system and my lawyer was pretty nervous when the magistrate came out to hear the case.
The main witness for ABF was a South African ballistics technician. Apparently the same one who got the Cleaver Firearms shipment reclassified, Seized and recalled. My barrister proceeded to dissect this bloke into a million pieces and by the end of it, it was pretty clear he had an agenda and was distorting the truth.
He could not answer why a nerf projectile was not a firearm projectile under the law and ended up saying that it wasn't a projectile because ABF decided it wasn't. Obviously this has nothing to do with the law.
So we won the case on the back of a spectrum that the barrister invented. He argued that if nerf was on one end of the spectrum and a bullet was on the other, then the gel ball would fall on the side of the spectrum that does not constitute ammunition due to its soft properties. Turns out the judge agreed and stated that "other" could not just mean anything otherwise we would classify sticks as ammunition. We won the case from there.
ABF was forced to reclassify the products as Imitation firearms and made a press release a few weeks later.
In the interim, I was told I needed a B709a import permit and luck for me I had one of those. Turns out I was again naive as about 2 hours after I submitted my permit (again) to ABF, the QPS sent me an email saying that they had revoked my b709A permit and that it was not to be used for release of my shipment.
I was back on the emails to the police minister and ABF and had my lawyer making calls all over again.
Then all of a sudden I get a call from QPS OSC and he tells me that ABF are releasing my shipment and there is nothing he can do about it and he was powerless to stop the release. He told me that he is unsure if the products are legal in QLD and they would have to be ballistics tested to find out. I promptly offered him one of each of my products for testing and that he could come and pick them up when I went to pick up my shipment.
Whilst at ABF collecting the goods, the QPS service rocked up and proceeded to tell me that they would take the goods and test them but if they came back as firearms and I had been selling them, I would be charged with selling firearms without a licence.
I waited almost three weeks for them to test them, whilst paying for a storage unit and products just sitting there.
Finally, they came back and told us that they were just toys and we were able to sell them in late February. So it took the government 12 months to figure out that a gel blaster is a toy.
Now, the QPS has taken a stance that they do not have to issue permits on the basis that a gel Blaster is a toy so importation is impossible.
Unfortunately for the QPS, I have the best lawyer in QLD and we started the process in Early March to have this overturned.
There are a bunch more details that i have missed and a lot of them would make your skin crawl but i thought for the purposes of this post i would just include the more significant events.Thanks for reading, I hope this fills in the gaps for some of you guys asking questions. If you are reading this on another source don’t forget to visit our website and support the cause www.tacticaledge.com.au. Follow us on Facebook for all of our updates as well.