Ask LH: Why Can’t I Import A Slingshot?

Why are the slingshots I buy from overseas being seized by Customs? And how can I make my own? Thanks, Slingstar

Slingshot picture from Shutterstock

Dear Slingstar,

As we noted in a recent Ask LH about Airsoft guns, Australia has pretty strict rules when it comes to projectile weapons. Even harmless, firearm-shaped toys regularly end up on banned lists, let alone slingshots which are capable of causing severe injury.

The laws surrounding slingshots vary depending on the state or territory you live in. You can legally purchase a slingshot in Queensland, the ACT and Tasmania, but not in NSW, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia or the Northern Territory. (The only exceptions are approved toys specifically designed for children.)

Here are the rules for each state and territory with links to the relevant police documentation:

NSW: In NSW, any device consisting of an elasticised band secured to the forks of a ‘Y’ shaped frame is classed as a prohibited weapon. Homemade slingshots for use by a child in the course of play are permitted.

Victoria: Slingshots are classified as a prohibited weapon. They cannot be possessed, carried, used, displayed or sold without a Chief Commissioner’s Prohibited Weapons Approval.

Queensland: Slingshots are currently available for sale. The purchaser must be over 18 years of age.

South Australia: Slingshots are classed as Dangerous Articles and cannot be bought or imported without special permissions.

Western Australia: Commercially produced catapults/slingshots with or without an arm brace are classed as prohibited weapons.

ACT: Slingshots are currently available for sale. The purchaser must be over 18 years of age.

Tasmania: Slingshots and parts are legal to use on private property. A police certification test is required for importation.

Northern Territory: A catapult, shanghai, hunting sling or slingshot that is manufactured and intended for commercial distribution (including a frame or stock, and a sling) is classed as a controlled weapon.

There are additional restrictions in all states and territories on certain types of hunting slings that use a component part or brace to propel a projectile with the wrist or forearm. The restriction includes modifications made by the user.

If you have a legitimate reason for using a prohibited slingshot, you can usually apply for a special permit. However, the circumstances in which an exemption is granted are incredibly small — the only example we can think of is certain types of pest-control. Unfortunately, recreational activities such as fishing are not considered legitimate reasons for owning a slingshot and your application will be denied. Tch.

As to the second part of your question, we’d advise against making a DIY slingshot in any state that prohibits their use. Just like with handmade firearms, the penalty remain the same whether you buy one or roll your own.

With that said, you could always craft a makeshift version out of innocent-looking materials: check out the instructional video below for a condom slingshot!

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