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Taking aim at the wrong target

Barrhead gun shop owner says proposed gun control legislation will hurt businesses and firearms enthusiasts and will do little to stop crime
Kodiak Lake building
Barrhead's Kodiak Lake Hunting and Fishing owner Kevin Daase said the Justin Trudeau led federal Liberal's Bill C-21 will negatively impact businesses such as his and do little to lower gun-related crimes. Barry Kerton/BL

BARRHEAD - Whether or not the federal government's proposed gun control will have an impact on gun-related crime is up for debate, but it will definitely affect shop owners and shooting enthusiasts.

At least that is according to Kevin Daase, owner of Barrhead's Kodiak Lake Hunting and Fishing said.

Bill C-21 is a comprehensive piece of legislation that would increase criminal penalties for gun smuggling and trafficking, while introducing a process for confiscating legal firearms from people who pose a risk to themselves and others. The bill would also allow municipalities to restrict handguns and prohibits advertising that depicts, counsels or promotes firearms violence against a person.

However, the pertinent part of the legislation is that it will ban the use, sale and importation of more than 1,500 firearms.

"[Prime Minister Justin Trudeau] is trying to ban anything that looks like what we call a black gun," Daase said.

A black gun is a weapon that resembles a "military-style" firearm.

The problem, Daase said, is that several types of firearms fit that description including .22 calibre rifles, shotguns and even air and paintball guns.

Currently, air guns that fire projectiles less than 500 feet per second have been exempt from bans, but under Bill C-21, they would fall into a newly created mid-velocity (366-500 feet per second) category that would ban the import, sale, or transfer of air guns that resembled firearms.

This includes the popular airsoft guns that fire soft biodegradable plastic pellets that squish upon impact.

If the legislation passes, Daase said, it will compound the damage the government has already done to the sporting gun sales industry.

"[Trudeau and the Liberals] have already caused us grief," he said, referring to the Order-in-Council paper cabinet passed in May that reclassified and prohibited nine types consisting of several hundred models. "It is already a huge variant of stuff ... if this goes through, I believe he is going to add even more guns to the ban list."

It should be noted that although the weapons were prohibited, current owners who choose not to take advantage of the buyback program when it becomes available are still allowed to keep their firearms under strict storage conditions and would prohibit their sale or transfer.

Daase said if the government aims to stop gun crimes, including mass shootings, like the one in Nova Scotia in April 2020 that killed 22 people, restricting weapons because of what they look like is not going to be effective.

"What are you calling a military-assault gun? Just because it is black and looks scary," he said, adding part of the problem is that the legislation was drafted by people who are not knowledgeable about firearms. "One of the things on the banned list wasn't even a gun, it was a website."

Daase doesn't understand why the government is choosing to ban a type of weapon.

"When an impaired driver kills someone, Mothers Against Drunk Driving do not blame the vehicle. It's not the car's fault that the guy drove drunk," he said. "A car, like a gun, is just a tool that one has to learn to use properly. Legally purchased guns, from my or anyone else's store, by a firearm enthusiast is not the problem ... they are not the ones committing the crimes, so why punish them?"

Barry Kerton,