Following the federal government’s announcement that 1,500 types of assault-style rifles will be banned, members of the Penticton firearm community are penning letters to the government expressing their disapproval.
“Nobody’s against the safety aspect of it, but is has to be real,” said Penticton Shooting Sports Association president, Christian Scott. “The changes that they’ve implemented and proposed do little to stop the actual violence, the actual problem itself.”
The letters, the local club president explained, will be written to media, local government representatives, as well as the federal government.
Yesterday (May 1) firearms clubs around the Okanagan expressed their disappointment at the announcement, stating the ban won’t make Canadians safer. In addition, leaders of these groups stated they believe licensed gun owners are not the problem.
Yesterday Scott joined others in speaking out, saying he was “saddened” by the Canadian government’s decision.
He said this new ban could affect at least a quarter of Penticton’s population. As well, he explained this ban will affect many parts of their organization, including annual events that require the use of semi-automatic rifles.
The announcement by the federal government comes after the worst mass killing in Canada, where a gunman murdered 22 people in Nova Scotia on April 18. Investigators in the case stated they believe the the guns used were not obtained legally and the man believed to be responsible did not have the license necessary to acquire firearms in Canada.
As a result of this new announcement, some annual events like their pumpkin hunt, Scott says won’t take place, because they require the use of semi-automatic weapons.
“We have hundreds of people come up, and everybody has a great time,” he said. “There’s no safety issues, it’s not dangerous, and that’s now not going to be able to happen.”
Membership at the Penticton Shooting Sports Association has steadily climbed over the years, reaching 369 members last year.
Gun safety at the club, he said, is top priority. In addition to only being able to shoot at night, the club enforces the use of a range safety officer, present at the shooting range at all times.
Their club, he said, puts a large emphasis on families teaching young people about guns and gun safety, so that they’re introduced to them in the right way.
“We’re just really, really heavily involved in the safety aspect, and having fun.”
The members’ decision to pen the letters, Scott explained, is to show the government that not just a few, but many are against this decision.
“They haven’t just upset the AR owners by banning ARs (AR-15s), they’ve brought the entire gun community in,” said Scott. “Because there’s few gun owners that don’t own at least one semi-automatic, even if that’s just a 10-22 Rueger. They’re probably the most common type of firearm out there.”
He believes guns in the hands of people who shouldn’t haven them is the real issue.
“Guns in the hands of criminals, guns in the hands of people that should not have them, and that obtain them illegally,” he said. “Because law abiding gun owners are not committing these crimes, these crimes are being committed by criminals who have no regard for the law in the first place.
“So more laws and more restrictions are not going to help.”
Scott believes tightening security at the border and making the punishment for possessing firearms illegally more severe would be a much better way forward. That, and keeping a closer eye on individuals who commit crimes with guns.
“To really curb the problem you need to look at the borders, and get the illegal guns under control,” said Scott.
He furthered that he believes this decision by the government was made in a non-democratic, and authoritarian way.
“I’m very disappointed and saddened by the way that the Liberal government has used not only the situation in Nova Scotia, but also the COVID crisis to further their agenda, which I think we’ll see a great many Canadians, don’t agree with,” said Scott.