Canada's Bill C-21 May Ban The Trade & Use Of Airsoft Guns When It Becomes Law
21 Mar 2023
Canada’s airsoft are keenly watching and working against the Bill C-21. The bill was refilled last year after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of the Liberals won another term. The bill has already passed second reading in the House of Common last year and it is now under consideration in the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security where hearings are being heard from those who are opposing or supporting the bill.
It is not yet halfway through the legislative process as it needs to be approved on third reading. If it wins the vote with a simple majority, it will still have to go through the approval by Senate.
Bill C-21 has a provision for replicas that will cover airsoft. The previous definition of replicas made it legal for the sale and use of airsoft guns as it is not covered by the definition. C-21 intends to cover this loophole (italics ours):
(3.2) For the purposes of sections 99 to 101, 103 to 107 and 117.03, a firearm is deemed to be a prohibited device if
(a) it is proved that the firearm is not designed or adapted to discharge a shot, bullet or other projectile at a muzzle velocity exceeding 152.4 m per second or at a muzzle energy exceeding 5.7 Joules; and
(b) the firearm is designed or intended to exactly resemble, or to resemble with near precision, a firearm, other than an antique firearm, that is designed or adapted to discharge a shot, bullet or other projectile at a muzzle velocity exceeding 152.4 m per second and at a muzzle energy exceeding 5.7 Joules.
In a report by the CBC News: The National, airsoft business owners and airsoft players believe that once Bill C-21 becomes a law, it will be the end of airsoft in Canada as they know it since the new definition of replica firearms will ban airsoft guns.
Airsoft shops, game sites, which dot many places in Canada, will lose business and as such the livelihoods of those involved in the industry. For airsoft players, it is a loss of a hobby they love and deem to be harmless as compared to real firearms.
For the Canadian police, the danger presented by airsoft guns not due to the velocity of the projectile fired, but the way they are presented as the real thing. Regina police Chief Evan Bray, who co-chairs the special purpose committee on firearms for the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police said that 20% of crime involving the use of firearms are committed with replica firearms and that the police officers find it difficult to distinguish an airsoft gun from the real thing.
They want the government to change the look of replica firearms as well as classify high-powered airsoft guns to be real firearms. But they are also looking for a compromise that would allow people to play airsoft but remove the threat of their use in crimes or alarming the public.
The Canadian airsoft community is involved in the lobbying to exempt airsoft guns in cooperation with other communities opposing the bill that may affect that the livelihoods and hobbies. We’ll post updates as Bill C-21 goes through Parliament.