The Quesnel Rod and Gun Club (QRGC) is throwing its support behind petitions aimed at repealing the federal government’s ban on assault-style guns.
“Banning legally obtained firearms from people who have been vetted to legally own them is going to do little or nothing to prevent the use of illegal firearms, or the importation, smuggling of illegal firearms,” said QRGC president Andy Voight.
“These laws will do nothing to save lives or prevent crime, and will only target legal firearms owners.”
Voight said the club is backing a petition sponsored last month by Cariboo-Prince George MP Todd Doherty, as well as supporting several others who are against the federal government’s order in council, which marks the first step in the banning of multiple models of firearms.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced May 1 the government was banning 1,500 types of what he said are assault-style rifles.
The ban includes guns that have been used in past Canadian shootings including the Ruger Mini-14, which was used in the Ecole Polytechnique massacre in Montreal in 1989, the M14 semi-automatic which was used in the 2014 Moncton shooting, the Beretta CX4 Storm used in the Dawson College shooting and the CSA-VZ-58 which the gunman attempted to use in the Quebec Mosque shooting.
Voight noted he’d rather see meaningful efforts by government to crack down on and punish those involved in firearms related crimes as well as more support for mental health services.
Voight added he thinks the real issue is the gun being seen as the villain rather than the person wielding it.
The ban includes many guns commonly used on the QRGC’s shooting ranges in proven safe, secure shooting sports competitions.
“They’ve essentially wiped out some forms of sport use – particularly three gun competition [rifle, shotgun and pistol] is now down to one gun [pistol] in some cases,” he said.
“I do think it’s a travesty of justice that law abiding Canadian citizens are being persecuted by this and having their property made unusable.”
MP Todd Doherty sent a statement to Black Press Media earlier in May stating there are countless law abiding and responsible firearm owners in his riding.
On the issue of gun violence and the use of assault-style rifles in prior shootings in Canada, Doherty said Conservatives also “understand that licensed owners are not the problem.”
Instead of banning guns, Doherty said the Conservative party believes it would be more effective to direct federal resources towards combating illegal gun smuggling and gang activity.
He called Trudeau’s decision arbitrary, and said by re-classifying over 1,500 firearms as restricted, the Prime Minister has “by definition” reclassified law abiding Canadians as criminals with the stroke of a pen.”
Trudeau said there will be a two-year amnesty period for gun owners to give them time to comply with the ban.
In the two-year period, Voight said the federal government has said it will come up with a buy-back program for owners to receive what the government calls “fair value” for any firearms deemed illegal in the new ban.
“In the meantime they are unusable and, obviously, need to be secured in the same manner as was previously required. Difference being, now we are no longer allowed to use them for sport and hunting or take them to the range,” he said.
He thanked Doherty, and several others, who have started petitions calling for the repeal of the ban.
“The club has voiced strong support for Todd Doherty and his petition,” he said. “He is one of our local champions on the topic.”
Voight stressed responsible, legal firearms owners are not “gun nuts,” and simply find enjoyment and camaraderie in range activities or shooting sports enjoyed at the range.
“At this time I think it’s important we stick with the facts,” he said. “There’s no end of things that can be made dangerous. Just because it is a gun does not mean it is more inherently dangerous than anything else that can be used as a weapon.”