Purchasers of the Gold Edition will get access to the weapons almost-instantly (the Gold Edition includes behind-the-scenes bonuses and will retail for $10 more than the standard edition). However, cheapstakes that opt for the standard version will have to earn the weapons by leveling up to the top rank in the online multiplayer. You won't have to pay for it, but you will have to be rather dedicated to get it.
This seems like a rather fair trade -- certainly more so than EA's previous offer. While many may simply avoid Bad Company altogether, it's good to see that EA is listening to the fervent demands of gamers everywhere.