Canada

BB gun inspections to be beefed up at border

Canada Border Services Agency says it plans to step up inspections of future imports of BB guns after it allowed hundreds of replica AK-47s into the country — toys police now fear could easily be converted into prohibited assault rifles.

Canada Border Services Agency says it plans to step up inspections of future imports of BB guns after it allowed hundreds of replica AK-47s into the country — toys police now fear could easily be converted into prohibited assault rifles.

The RCMP last week conducted numerous raids on gun shops and online retailers in Ontario, B.C. and Quebec seizing sales records and toy BB guns imported from China, made with real parts. Investigators believe  the metal 'receiver' or body of the guns are authentic and banned in Canada and could easily be fitted with new bolts and barrels to turn them into functioning semi-automatic weapons.

CBSA spokesperson Luc Nadon told CBC News in an email Thursday that the agency allowed the shipments into Canada relying on the importers description of the BB guns. But Nadon admitted officials didn’t actually inspect the crates as they entered the country.

"Most BB guns are exempted from registration and licensing requirement under the Firearms Act and are generally not prohibited from being imported," Nadon wrote. "Regarding the shipment in question … the CBSA assessed the importer's description of the shipment against the RCMP's firearms database [of banned weapons] and found that there was no reason to believe that this shipment was anything other than a normal BB gun. Therefore, the shipment was cleared to enter Canada."

Nadon also said that a large volume of goods cross the border every day and that while the agency assesses all shipments,  "it cannot physically inspect every shipment."

"We rely on a robust risk assessment approach, including advance shipment info, info from partners both in the trade chain and law enforcement, and due diligence of our officers to prevent the entry of high risk goods," he said.

CBSA says it is working closely with the RCMP to ensure future shipments of BB guns will be examined more closely.  It's unclear whether the guns allowed in were properly documented or whether the items inside the shipping crates matched the paperwork.

If you have any tips on this or any other story, please contact dave.seglins@cbc.ca or john.nicol@cbc.ca.

It's also unclear whether the BB guns allowed into Canada have always been banned, or whether the RCMP has only recently decided they pose a threat to public safety.

The RCMP won't talk about its ongoing investigation but says it intends to issue an advisory to police forces and arms dealers about potential concerns regarding the BB guns.