Gun owners are frustrated and in limbo after the federal government announced a sweeping ban on assault-style firearms, said a Red Deer hunting and fishing business owner.
The Sportsmen’s Den owner Dale Malin spoke recently with a customer who has $50,000 worth of weapons that will now be illegal under the rules announced in the wake of the shooting rampage in Nova Scotia that left 22 people dead last month.
RCMP said the gunman was carrying two semi-automatic rifles and several semi-automatic handguns.
As of May 1, the newly prohibited firearms cannot be legally used, sold or imported. Gun owners have two years to comply with the new rules.
The government also said it would create a buy-back program for the roughly 100,000 weapons now covered by the ban.
Malin has $20,000 worth of newly prohibited weapons in stock that can no longer be sold.
“I don’t think it’s going to kill our business, but it’s definitely going to hurt it in the long run,” he said.
While the government says it will roll out a buy-back program, dealers and gun owners have no details about the plan. There is plenty of skepticism that gun owners will get near the value of their weapons.
“Their fair market value and our fair market value is probably totally different,” said Malin.
“Some of these guns are worth thousands and thousands of dollars. (Public Safety Minister Bill Blair) is not going to pay for that.”
He knows of a couple of gun owners who have built up collections of M-14 semi-automatic rifles that they use on shooting ranges.
“I feel sorry for some of them guys,” said Malin.
In theory, weapons could be sold to U.S. and other international buyers, but all of the regulations involved makes that extremely difficult. Malin said he has never sold across the border.
What angers many gun owners is that they see the weapons ban as doing nothing to reduce crime.
Not allowing criminals to get out of prison so easily would do a lot more to prevent violent incidents, said Malin.
Taking guns from law-abiding citizens won’t stop criminals from getting them, nor prevent people with mental health issues from getting violent.
“You’re not going to stop criminals getting guns. And how do you regulate someone going psychotic?”
Red Deer-Mountain View MP Earl Dreeshen and Red Deer-Lacombe View MP Blaine Calkins were also critical of the government’s actions.
Dreeshen said he was “very disappointed” with the decision. We know that law-abiding firearms owners aren’t the problem,” Dreeshen tweeted on May 1.
“The vast majority of gun crimes are committed with illegally obtained firearms. Nothing the Trudeau Liberals announced today addresses the real problem.”
The Alberta Fish and Game Association has sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau criticizing the ban as showing a “lack of understanding of the issues related to the criminal use of firearms in Canada.
“The decision to ban these firearms appears to be driven by internal ideology and political opportunism,” and “only clouds the real issues and facts,” says the May 13 letter.
The association calls on the government to reverse the ban and enter into meaningful conversations with the firearms community and others to develop a plan that addresses the underlying causes of the criminal use of firearms.”
Malin and many of his customers doubt the government will stop at the most recent ban.
“This is just the start. I don’t know where this will end.”
Many gun owners will hold onto their weapons for as long as they can, he said. Maybe there will be a change of government within two years, said Malin with a chuckle.