Local firearm owners feel unfairly targeted by new federal gun control legislation

An undated file photo of a handgun.

On Monday, the federal government tabled legislation on a new slate of firearm restrictions, which include a national freeze on the buying and selling of handguns.

Today at Corlane Sporting Goods in Dawson Creek, customers were rushing to buy them before that becomes illegal.

“I don’t think you should buy a handgun – you should buy three,” says co-owner Tim Schram. “And tell your friends to do the same, because it’s go time right now.”

According to Statistics Canada, in 59% of gun-related violent crimes, a handgun was the most serious gun present. The new legislation doesn’t outright ban handguns, but it would effectively cap the market.

“Those who currently own and operate handguns safely and store them safely are not at all targeted by this legislation,” says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

However, many local gun owners disagree.

“With these new restrictions, I personally feel attacked,” says Aaron Mathias, co-owner of Corlane’s.

Many of Corlane’s customers and staff use guns for target shooting or hunting. They say violent crimes are committed with illegal firearms.

That’s something Bob Zimmer, the MP for Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies, agrees with.

“The problem is the illegal firearms coming across the border,” says Zimmer. “So what they really need to do is tackle that straight on.”

The new legislation does propose to increase border security, as well as provide more tools for law enforcement to investigate gun crime. It would also increase maximum penalties for firearm crimes.

However, Zimmer says that isn’t enough. He cites another bill, Bill C-5, which repeals several mandatory minimum penalties for firearm crimes.

“That’s where the irony is, there,” says Zimmer. “This Prime Minister is making our country less safe.”

The legislation would also require long-gun magazines to be altered so they can’t hold more than five rounds. This is something Zimmer says would be difficult or impossible to do for most guns. He echoes locals’ fear that the only people punished will be those he calls the “good guys.”

“The laws that they’re bringing in are only affecting law-abiding citizens that are currently jumping through the hoops to own firearms – not the criminals,” says Mathias.