How the Firearms Control Bill Will Affect Canada’s Airsoft Industry

A new firearms control bill has been introduced by the liberal government of Canada and it has not received a good reception from either critics or proponents of gun control. The new bill, C-21, allows handguns to be regulated by municipalities, which would create patchwork regulations that could be ineffective. The advocates of the bill are also against allowing owners of assault-style, semi-automatic rifles to keep these newly prohibited guns if they already own them.

Another small reform has emerged those deals with tightening the laws around replica firearms. This could have a considerable effect on airsoft rifle and pistol owners, manufacturers, retail outlets and on the entire Canadian Airsoft industry itself.

Canadian airsoft guns are used to play military games and they shoot out plastic projectiles at a low velocity. The guns are made to resemble real firearms on the exterior. There are airsoft guns available that have been modeled after the semi-automatic AR-15 rifle, which was declared to be a prohibited weapon by the federal government on May 1, 2020.

Police organizations from one end of the country to the other have expressed concerns regarding imitation firearms and their recreational use. These organizations are trying to balance public safety against the use of airsoft guns and the proposal would tighten the laws on replica firearms and has been put forward as a way to keep Canadians safe.

Airsoft Canada gun sellers have been able to stay in business due to an existing loophole in firearm laws. In Canada, the law states that a person cannot own a replica firearm unless it is one that was manufactured to copy an antique firearm. Since airsoft guns fire projectiles, they are not technically regarded as replicas. They aren’t firearms either from a technical viewpoint since they shoot these plastic projectiles at low velocities.

Petitions against the Bill and Support for Air Guns

Airsoft businesses as well as players of the games strongly object to the closing of the loophole since it will not only affect the industry but cause havoc for the air guns players. According to Shannon Stubbs, a Conservative critic of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, this new bill is irrational and simply an effort to stop the sale of toy guns that are not responsible for the many shootings that have led to deaths in various Canadian cities. There is now a parliamentary e-petition that is available to sign by anyone that is against the new regulation. So far it has been garnering a number of signatures and is expected to attract many more.

The History of Controlling the Use or Possession of Replica Firearms

The history of control over replica firearms goes back years. John Diefenbaker, the Prime Minister in 1959, took a stand against these replicas by altering the Criminal Code. At the time, this was put in force to prevent crimes from being committed with fake guns. Bandits were using imitation firearms to commit crimes of theft by using them to overpower or frighten their victims. A firearm that was just an imitation of a real one could cause the same results if the person being victimized believed it was real. That would make the offense with a fake gun identical to the offense committed using a real one.

Legislation was put forward that stipulated that anyone carrying a real weapon or an imitation of one such as air guns with the purpose of committing a dangerous act would be found guilty of perpetrating an indictable offense. When first introduced the criminal could be imprisoned for up to 5 years but later on the Government of Canada increased the punishment time to up to 10 years.

In 1994, the CACP (The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police), pushed for the prohibition of the use of imitation guns in any manner. The association wanted people punished for using the fake guns in any way even if they weren’t committing any type of crime with them. The CACP stated that these replica firearms and air guns could potentially traumatize victims and wanted a complete ban on the manufacturing, possession and sale of them. As a result, the federal government created the current law that is in place now, which lists replica firearms as prohibited devices.

In 2000, the CACP asked for further regulations for imitation guns stating that replica firearms had been being used to compromise the Canadian public safety and to terrorize victims. The association was also concerned that police officers might be driven to use deadly force if they believed that the guns were real. The Government of Canada did not respond to the request for new legislation and the law that was implemented in 1994 was kept in place.

How This Affects the Canadian Airsoft Rifles Industry

If the new Bill C-21 comes into effect the industry may have to ensure that any airsoft rifles or pistols sold do not look like real guns. This would not limit airsoft gun recreational use so people will still be able to play their military games with them. It will certainly be a change, that’s for sure, but the airsoft community can rest assured that the industry will survive even though greater supervision will be provided from a legislative level.

In the United Kingdom, the same type of legislation was passed that affected airsoft guns in the name of ensuring public safety. The industry there continues to thrive. A solution in the Canadian market must be put forward so that the games can continue even if modifications need to be made to airsoft pistols and rifles to distinguish them from real firearms.

At Gear Up Airsoft we are keeping our finger on the pulse of any new legislative changes and we will let you know about them as soon as we get any details. Our goal is to keep the airsoft rifles industry thriving while keeping the public informed. We want to support your military games so that you can continue to enjoy them tomorrow just as much as you do today.

If you have any questions regarding the new legislation, please feel free to reach out to us through our contact form at GearUp Airsoft Toronto.

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Christophe Rude

Christophe Rude

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