A Calgary gun and ammunition store owner says handgun sales in the city have skyrocketed following the Liberal government announcement about a handgun sale freeze.
J.R. Cox, who owns and operates The Shooting Edge range, said between the Calgary store and his Toronto store, 1,000 handguns were sold this week.
“They are not on the streets. They are owned by lawful firearms owners so they are unloaded, they are locked up,” said Cox.
“People have to make sure they go from their house to a range and back. They can’t carry them around. This isn’t the United States. We already have strict rules and I think if more of the public knew of all of the hoops Canadians jump through even to own a hunting rifle, they wouldn’t be concerned because we’re not a problem.”
The Shooting Edge celebrated National Range Day on Saturday.
Cox said the open house event was designed to promote safe shooting sports and to extend further support to legal firearms owners.
People of all ages had the chance to learn how to safely shoot and handle firearms.
Ronald Clements went to two sporting stores in Calgary on Saturday on a quest to buy a handgun, but was told they were sold out.
“It’s pretty rare. It’s like looking for hen’s teeth,” Clements said.
Then he popped into the Shooting Edge where his fortunes turned around
“This is the most I’ve seen and this is the third store I’ve been at,” Clements said.
Shelves at the Shooting Edge used to be packed with handguns but they sold out this week; all that’s left are used ones people have brought in to sell.
Clements managed to snap up a used one that came in earlier in the day.
“We thought there would be a bit of a run on handguns but we didn’t expect this. All the stores in Calgary were just crazy,” Cox said.
The federal government announced on Monday it has tabled legislation that seeks to freeze the buying, selling, importing, and trading of handguns nationwide.
However, the measure does not ban handguns outright, allowing existing owners to continue to possess and use them.
Cox and Clements are critical of the legislation, saying it isn’t an effective way to fight gun violence because of how strict regulations are for purchasers in Canada.
“I have a new gun. I just want to have a second one. It’s always nice to have different guns to use, especially here when you’re at target practice, it’s nice to have different guns to select from,” Clements said.
“People want to have access to their guns. It’s a sport like anything else or a hobby. It’s not legal hand gun owners that are the problem.”
Under the new legislation, existing handgun owners would be allowed to keep their firearms, but would only be allowed to sell or transfer to businesses and exempt individuals.
At this point, gun store owners are left wondering if they should take a gamble and restock the shelves.
“The dilemma is do we even buy more firearms? Do we buy more because the legislation is clear that when sales stop, there’s no compensation,” Cox said.
To purchase a handgun in Canada a person must have a restricted firearms licence.