The Terrace Rod & Gun Club is disappointed with the federal ban on asault-style firearms, saying the move affects legitimate firearms owners and users.
“They say they don’t want to target hunters but they inadvertently have,” says club president Art Moi. “I don’t feel very respected; I feel marginalized and persecuted.”
On May 1, 2020, the Canadian government banned the purchase, sale, transport, import and use of approximately 1,500 models and variants of assault-style firearms.
The order-in-council arising from legislation already in place permitting the federal government to enact specific measures, prohibits several models popular with competition shooters, most notably the AR-15 platform.
“You can’t overstate the value of those rifles to the competitive shooting world,” said Terrace Rod & Gun Club director Paul Harrison. “A lot of us are in that boat where we’ve lost a piece of our property. It feels like we’ve been robbed, especially because we are not allowed to take them to the range anymore.”
The newly-banned firearms are semi-automatic and customizable. They were used at the Terrace Rod & Gun Club, especially popular with 3-Gun competition shooters. In a 3-Gun event, shooters use a pistol, shotgun and rifle. The competition is a race against the clock emphasizing safety, accuracy and speed. There are also 3-Gun groups in Houston and Smithers.
The Terrace Rod & Gun Club hosts several different shooting sports like biathlon, competitive pistol shooting, practical shooting and trap shooting. The club also serves as a training facility for law enforcement.
The government introduced the ban nearly two weeks after deadly shootings by a Nova Scotia gunman. “Banning assault style firearms will save Canadian lives,” said Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair during the announcement of the ban. “These guns have no legitimate civilian purpose.”
For club vice president and range master Terry Morris, sport shooting is more than legitimate, it’s his discipline. “My discipline is to go out there and put the smallest possible group in a target that’s as far as possible away. My thrill in doing that is no less than the golfer who steps up and swings his driver and puts it right down the middle for 200 yards,” he said.
“We are out there with a purpose in mind, and the purpose in mind is for our self-gratification in making sure that we do as good of a job as we can of the task we’ve set before us.”
The order-in-council also bans firearms with a bore diameter of 20 millimetres or greater and guns with a muzzle energy of more than 10,000 joules. That would mean some bolt-action hunting rifles are now prohibited.
If those provisions stand gun owners with large calibre bolt-action rifles suited for big game could be impacted, despite not owning an assault-style weapon.
“There are a lot of folks in town with .458 Winchester Magnums, .460 Wetherbys and .50 Brownings as well and you know none of those were cheap to buy,” said Harrison of these rifles.
“In some cases somebody’s longtime savings were used to buy those and they aren’t allowed to use them anymore, so it definitely has a wide ranging impact.”
The government intends to create a buyback program for the newly prohibited firearms but has not tabled a bill yet.