Gun show patrons eager for looser firearms laws

The federal government's plan to overhaul gun laws this fall struck a chord among those who attended the fourth annual Summer Gun and Hobby Show, held at the Gold Rush Inn last Saturday.

The federal government’s plan to overhaul gun laws this fall struck a chord among those who attended the fourth annual Summer Gun and Hobby Show, held at the Gold Rush Inn last Saturday.

One of the proposed changes to the legislation would give gun owners a certain grace period after their licences expire.

Another would ease restrictions on transporting firearms.

Paul Rogan, the event sponsor, who also publishes a monthly paper called Canadian Access to Firearms, said the majority of gun people aren’t against gun legislation, per se.

“The real problem is the people who do bad things with guns,” he said.

“Gun people feel they’re being marginalized, because we’re presented as abnormal, like we have a psychological problem for wanting to own guns.”

Rogan is the owner of many guns, including a sub-machine gun that was classified as a prohibited weapon by the federal government in 1991.

A grandfather clause allows him to keep it because he owned it prior to that year.

“When that legislation came we did some research and we couldn’t find one instance where a crime was committed with a registered sub-machine gun,” he added.

Will Bilozir, who runs Bilozir Fine Guns with his wife Donna near Calgary, was at the event to showcase some of the Italian rifles the couple sells.

He said the federal government is repairing years of damage done by previous Liberal governments.

“The government of Canada is honoring the long tradition of owning firearms instead of outlawing them,” he said.

“The Liberal government of previous years was socially re-engineering Canada so that guns were not an acceptable thing to own. Hunting and shooting was not an acceptable pursuit.”

He said the proposed legislation is important because if it isn’t implemented, a future government that isn’t sympathetic to gun owners could punish them.

Clients of his have called him up in a panic because their licences expired, and although they had applied for new ones months prior, they were now vulnerable to arrest in certain cases.

“You’re not a criminal the day after your driver’s licence expires,” he said.

“You can go to jail longer for having an unregistered firearm than you can for assault with a weapon.”

Based on June 2014 statistics from the Canadian Firearms Program, there are almost 1.9 million valid firearms licences in Canada, including 6,653 in the Yukon.

That translates to 19,627 licence holders per population of 100,000, the highest ratio in Canada by a wide margin.

In comparison, the second highest jurisdiction is Newfoundland and Labrador with 14,231 and the lowest is Ontario with 4,317.

Over 500 people crammed into a conference room last Saturday to get their firearm needs met lock, stock and barrel.

The gun enthusiasts came from B.C., Alberta, Manitoba, Quebec and elsewhere.

It was elbow to elbow in the Town Hall room as people of all ages and backgrounds browsed roughly 75 tables on display.

Among the items at the gun-themed flea market were shotguns, rifles, handguns, ammunition, holsters, cleaning supplies and other accessories.

It wasn’t uncommon to see someone pick up a weapon and stare down its barrel or hear a question asked about the grain of a particular bullet.

Organizer Donovan Dewis said the event is growing and looking better every year.

“This room is already booked for next year,” he said, “and 70 per cent of the tables will be booked by next week.”

“I like doing the organizing leading up to the show. You don’t know what to expect until you open the door at 10:00 a.m.”

The event has already come a long way since its first year, when very little buying and selling took place.

With time, however, exhibitors and patrons have established trust and developed closer bonds.

This year, at least 12 guns were sold in the first 10 minutes of the show, including a $12,000 antique rifle.

Rogan said it’s slowly getting better for Canadian gun owners.

“The Conservatives aren’t giving us everything we want, but they’re helping.”

He said the quality of guns at this show is remarkable.

“We may not be very big by gun-show standards,” he said, “as some of the bigger shows in the country have 800 or 900 tables.”

“But you can find a lot of cheaper stuff there. We have quality firearms.”

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com

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