Jeff Chase, president of the Central North Thompson Rod and Gun Club, stands outside the club’s gun range on May 24. Chase said he questions the motivation behind the federal government’s recent decision to ban 1,500 firearms in the question. Photo by Jaime Polmateer

Rod and gun club president speaks up on gun ban

Chase said such a sweeping ban isn’t the right way to address the issue in a democratic country

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s announcement regarding a ban on 1,500 models of guns was said to have been in the name of safety, but some local firearm enthusiasts are questioning his motivations.

Jeff Chase, president of the Central North Thompson Rod and Gun Club, said it looks like the government is simply starting the process of taking guns away from its people.

“I think it’s the first step of disarmament of Canadian citizens, personally. I did get all the comments from (club) directors and basically they agree. It’s the start of a total gun ban in Canada, or at least a try,” Chase said, adding that though club members mostly share his stance, he’s speaking on behalf of himself and not the club.

“They’re starting with this black rifle, assault rifle thing, but eventually they want to disarm citizens. Will it ever get that far? I doubt it.”

One of the instances Trudeau used to justify the May 1 gun ban announcement was the recent attack in Nova Scotia, where Gabriel Wortman impersonated a police officer and killed more than 20 people.

Wortman didn’t have a Possession and Acquisition Licence, which is needed to legally buy firearms, so Chase said he doesn’t understand why the government would use that example to take firearms from those who purchase them legally.

“That fella who killed all those people, those firearms were illegally obtained. If you’re using that to scare the public for so-called public safety, I don’t know if it’s the correct thing to do,” said Chase.

“If your firearms aren’t legally obtained, the sky’s the limit, right? You can’t do anything about it, but to ban all these firearms, personally I don’t agree with it.”

Chase admitted the military-style firearms like AR-15s aren’t meant for average citizens — except those who take part in events like 3-Gun competitions where there is a legitimate use for them — but are otherwise designed to kill people, though the breadth of guns in Trudeau’s ban go beyond these types of firearms and Chase said he doesn’t think such a sweeping ban is the right way to address the issue in a democratic country.

Instead, he added that he’d prefer the government take a more logical approach to the issue, like beefing up border patrol to stop illegally purchased guns that are often smuggled in from the United States.

“We’d like to see common sense for the government to pursue. I think any gun owner would like that, but to paint us all as criminals, shooting all over the place — no we don’t do that,” Chase said.

According to a federal government release, newly prohibited firearms under the ban can’t be legally used, sold, or imported and owners can only transfer and transport them under limited circumstances.

There’ll be a transition period of two years to protect owners of newly prohibited firearms from criminal liability while they take steps to comply with the new rules; the two-year amnesty order under the Criminal Code is in effect until April 30, 2022.

Exceptions under the amnesty have been made for Indigenous citizens exercising Aboriginal or treaty rights to hunt, and for those who hunt or trap to feed themselves or their families.

These exceptions are meant to allow for the continued use of newly prohibited firearms in limited circumstances until a suitable replacement can be found. By the end of the amnesty period, all firearms owners must comply with the ban.

The Government of Canada intends to start a buy-back program as soon as possible to safely remove these firearms and to introduce legislation as early as possible, working with Parliament and through public consultation.

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