A Waterloo store says the federal government’s new proposed gun control legislation is unfairly targeting the airsoft industry.
BlackBlitz Airsoft sells airsoft guns and says Bill C-21 puts their business at risk of shutting down. The store says their guns are used for the airsoft sport, which is similar to paintball.
“They are pretty much harmless. They shoot 6mm plastic pellets that are designed so they can hit people and not cause any serious damage,” said Ziming Wan, the tech manager with BlackBlitz Airsoft.
Ottawa announced Tuesday it would move forward with its plan for stricter gun laws and will implement a voluntary buyback program in the coming months. The new rules also target replica firearms, prohibiting unregulated air guns for the purposes of import, export, sale, and transfer.
Wan said the new legislation makes the definition of a replica firearm so strict it encompasses every airsoft gun in the Waterloo store. He said the language used in the bill stating "designed or intended to exactly resemble, or to resemble with near precision" has no parameters.
He also said new laws come after what was already a difficult year for the Waterloo store.
“About 45 per cent of our revenue comes directly from selling the guns themselves the rest of it comes from tech work, modifications, accessories, consumables, that sort of thing,” said Wan.
However, police say airsoft guns have been misused for criminal activity including robberies, home invasions, and drug rip-offs.
“If you’re going to use it in public, you’re likely going to have the police called and treat it like you’re carrying a real gun,” said Sgt. David Caron with Guelph Police.
A statement from the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police reads in part “We also agree with implementing initiatives that target the criminal use and diversion of firearms to the illicit market by prohibiting the importation, exportation, and sale of replica firearms.”
Wan says they’d like to see the federal government work with the airsoft industry to find solutions.
“I would prefer a regulation than an outright ban,” said Wan.
Wan says he also hopes to see more education around the airsoft to destigmatize the sport and industry. He says some of his associates are working on setting up a website to provide information to the public on the sport. There is also an ongoing petition against the bill.