Alan Chan has been running airsoft games at SPG Paintball just outside Morinville for nearly a decade, and he worries what a proposed ban on replica guns might have on the sport.
“It affects new people getting into this business or new people trying to get into this sport. It’s super disheartening,” he said.
Bill C-21, an act to amend firearms legislation, would, among other things, see a ban on replica medium-velocity airguns – a move that shocks many in the industry .
The bill provides for: a national handgun freeze; Red and Yellow Flag Act, including expanded license revocation; increased penalties for smuggling and trafficking; and airguns that closely resemble a real firearm or that fire a projectile at a velocity between 366 and 500 feet per second would be prohibited.
“There are other provisions in Bill C-21 that deal with buying straw, aftershocks and the glorification of gun violence. These are responsible and sensible measures that all Canadians can take,” Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said at a May 30 press conference.
The bill, sponsored by Mendicino, was tabled in the House of Commons on May 30. The bill passed second reading on the last day the House sat before the June 23 summer break and was referred to the Standing Committee on Public Affairs. National safety and security.
Chan, who also owns Comex Hobby Scona in Edmonton – which sells everything from models, toys to airsoft – said he started out carrying toy guns that people put together, and it turned into turned into an opportunity to start carrying airsoft guns around age 10. years ago.
“We had the opportunity to connect with one of the suppliers in Calgary, and they started selling them, they brought them into Canada – that’s why we started selling airsoft,” said he declared.
Chan said the proposed legislation scared off many of his suppliers.
A government website says that under the proposed legislation, “airguns can no longer be imported, exported, transferred or sold, but current owners may continue to own and use their existing airguns.”
“As a supplier or distributor, you’re not going to risk taking an entire container of airsoft products,” he said, noting that a 20-foot container full of airsoft products can be worth around $700,000.
If the law received royal assent, the suppliers would lose out. They would be unable to reship supplies, Chan said.
Thus, suppliers have reduced their supplies.
“So do we,” Chan said. “We always had about 50 to 60 guns…in the store. But lately we have reduced it. Sometimes when it comes to the shop, we only have four or five guns, like the pistol at hand. »
Chan said that if the law is passed, it will also be more difficult for people who have the guns to make repairs, as they require maintenance over time, which will in turn impact the sport.
“If the law is passed we will still be hosting games, but I don’t know to what extent because if something breaks it could be very difficult for us to get parts to fix,” he said. declared.
Chan said that on average they have around 50-100 people involved in a single airsoft game.
The bill would not affect air guns that do not look like real firearms. In the United States, airsoft rifles must have an orange tip, which is not the case in Canada.
Chan is not convinced that the law will have an impact on public safety. He said instances of people going out with guns are rare. He compares airsoft to archery.
“There are a lot of people doing archery, which again could do a lot more damage to any human or animal than airsoft guns,” Chan said. “If you see someone coming and walking around with an (archery bow), you should be scared too.”
Chan said the federal government was shutting down an industry that brought in about $150 million last year. Airsoft accounts for 50% of Chan’s business.
“(If) the law passes, honestly, there is nothing more we can do. We’ll probably have to look for something else,” Chan said.