For Australians, the coronavirus pandemic has revealed an entirely new side of their government that is not too pleasant.
Severe lockdowns have been forced on the people, and protests against the strict measures have been met with an overwhelming and hostile police response.
With the pandemic far from over, it doesn't look like the police state down under will be going away anytime soon.
Unfortunately for citizens who want to fight back when this tyranny finally crosses the line, they're out of luck. Australia passed the National Firearms Agreement after the Port Arthur massacre in 1996, a law which saw heavy restrictions placed on firearms.
Buybacks and voluntary surrenders of the newly illegal guns swept the nation as many rushed to hand over their weapons.
Now, nearly 25 years after the massacre and the harsh gun restrictions that followed, some Australians are being forced to hand over or register a new class of firearm -- gel blasters.
The toy guns fire a small pellet made mostly of water using a spring or electric power. According to Australia's 9News, residents of the state of South Australia will have six months to surrender or register the toys.
The new regulations, which took effect Thursday, cover the 62,000 gel blasters police estimate are scattered across the state.
"A gel blaster can easily be mistaken for a real firearm," South Australia Police Superintendent Stephen Howard told 9News, "with potential to cause concern in the community and trigger a police response that could involve the use of police firearms, or other tactical options."
Get a firearms licence or surrender your toy gel blaster – that is the message from SA Police. From tomorrow, the imitation guns will fall under the same category as regular firearms, following a spike in dangerous incidents. https://t.co/Ss5vYWQot6 @AndreaLNicolas #7NEWS pic.twitter.com/HKxqwHbFpK
— 7NEWS Adelaide (@7NewsAdelaide) October 7, 2020
The gel blasters were widely used in the country as an alternative to airsoft guns, which were made illegal in many Australian states and now face severe import restrictions.
Airsoft guns, like gel blasters, often appear to be a real firearms to the untrained eye. Even for experts, the toys can be easy to misidentify from a distance.
For law enforcement forced to make split-second decisions under stress, it's a nightmare scenario.
In America, a common sense workaround was found. Instead of labeling the toys as firearms, federal regulations now stipulate that toys closely resembling actual guns must carry a bright orange marking. While the marking -- which is usually found at the tip of airsoft guns -- can be painted over or removed altogether, it remains an identifiable mark on many of the toys.
For Australians, the toy registration comes as a grim reminder that their willfully surrendered firearm rights are slipping even further away every day.
There's no telling what workaround manufacturers will find to answer demand from fans of the now-banned airsoft and gel blaster toys.
No matter what ends up on Australian shelves next, consumers now know to be wary -- lawmakers can easily turn today's harmless toys into tomorrow's illegal firearms.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.