Some air-powered guns can legally be sold to children in Alberta, which concerns a parent in the southeast Calgary neighbourhood of Dover where a nine-year-old was wounded playing in his backyard.
He was hospitalized for three days for a puncture wound in his abdomen. Police say the child heard a loud bang and authorities believe an air-powered gun was used to shoot a projectile.
"Pretty much all the kids in the area have them. This one was purchased by my 14-year-old son for $40,” said neighbourhood resident Andrew Lemna.
"I've taken them away. I had to lock them up in safes.… I want some action against the selling to minors. Plain and simple, they should be regulated.”
Air-powered guns are also known as pellet guns, BB guns, spring guns and air soft guns, according to RCMP.
Lemna’s son Keenan said air-powered guns are easy to buy and are even available online. He and his friends liked to shoot cans in the backyard, but stopped after hearing about the neighbourhood boy.
Keenan said he didn’t realize how powerful they could be until his father made him watch a video online about a kid who lost an eye.
"The kid has no eye!" he said. "Air soft can puncture stuff. It can go in your arm, anywhere fragile, like your neck.”
Calgary seller requires parent present
Trained adults use them in military simulations, with protective gear and firm rules. The guns are so realistic one Calgary store sells them to movie sets and even police forces for training.
High-powered air guns are classified just like regular guns in Canada, and subject to the same laws, but below that range there are no laws against selling them to kids in Alberta.
But Calgary store owner Ken Cheung won't sell to kids without a parent present, and he questions those that do sell to children and teens.
"It's what their moral standard is at. You know, you don't want people to get hurt. It's just like selling knives … you don't want to sell dangerous knives to kids. Same thing here," he said.
Calgary police Staff Sgt. Russ Harper warns that bylaws do apply to air-powered guns in the city.
"Stray ammunition can cause real damage to people, pets or property. In Calgary it is a bylaw offence to fire any weapon within the city limits, including on your own property. It's also against city bylaws to transport an air-powered gun with a round of ammunition in the chamber."