BC Bill-4 to clamp down on airsoft and imitation firearms that mainly targets kids
The Firearm Violence Prevention Act, or Bill 4, introduced into the B.C. Legislature on Wednesday by Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth, is set to curb gang violence in the province by creating penalties on the transport of illegal firearms—and, oddly enough, by ceasing the sale of 'imitation guns' to youth.
The bill comes on the feet of several targeted shootings in Vancouver. "We are putting expert advice into practice to reduce shootings related to gangs and the drug trade. These new measures targeting illegal and imitation firearms will give police additional tools and help make our communities safer," said Farnworth in a statement.
The imitation firearms targeted by the legislation, according to the province's Illegal Firearms Task Force report, includes guns that have a projectile velocity under 152.4 meters per second. This encompasses BB guns, pellet guns and airsoft guns.
Bill 4 will "make it illegal to fire or display these [imitation] weapons anywhere a provincial, federal, First Nations or municipal law prohibits discharging firearms."
The bill also puts into place protections for social workers and health-care workers who breach client confidentiality by reporting to police about guns. It will also allow the government to collect the fingerprints of those who apply for a permit for armoured vehicles and body armour.
Critics at the Prince George Citizen have noted that in "authorizing the impoundment and eventual confiscation of any vehicle that police claim has been used to transport illegal firearms or to flee police," this affects people who are "not convicted, just accused." The legal principle of being considered innocent until proven guilty has thus gone out the window entirely.
The concerns I have with Bill 4 directly related to two portions. The first part is the portion that would force firearm ranges in British Columbia to keep records of users PAL’s and that would prevent range members from bringing none licensed firearms users to the range. From my understanding, the purpose of this is to prevent gang members from accessing ranges and “training”. The reality is that this does nothing to prevent gang members from using their illegal firearms but does prevent new shooters or hunters from safely training with firearms (in the care of someone with a valid PAL) before getting their PAL and prevents families from teaching their children how to use firearms at the gun range.
This impacts programs like the Hawk Program (a local school district 57 program geared at grade 10 students) and other youth programs from accessing the gun range and puts hurdles in place for these youth to participate in shooting in a safe environment with clearly defined rules.
The second concern I have is with the targeting of airsoft, pellet guns and “replica” firearms. Under Bill 4, firing these firearms within city limits would become an offence. This prevents families from teaching their children firearm safety and target shooting with these non-lethal alternatives to “real” firearms. This would impact organization like PG Airsoft as well, because it would limit the rental of airsoft guns to youth under 18 years of age and I can see this being a deterrent to new players who would not be able to practice at home and who would be limited to “designated” airsoft games.
Because of the legal ramifications of using “replica” firearms (the legal definition hasn’t been changed yet but was proposed at the federal level with C-21) I can see this negatively impacting the sale of these types of firearms especially airsoft in our store. We have already experienced a decline in sales since C-21 was brought forward and Bill 4 appears to be a provincial extension of that misguided bill.
Canada's National Firearms Association, a non-profit with the goal of protecting safe firearm activities and advocating for legislative change to protect the right to own and use firearms.
With the current agenda of the Liberal and NDP parties, the right to own firearms has been increasingly threatened.