British Columbia

Prince George gun vendor says proposed federal firearm law will put an end to replica air-gun sales

Cassy Premack, gun shop owner in Prince George, B.C., says she already has thousands of dollars worth of real guns sitting in her inventory since May because of the federal ban on assault-style weapons.

Gun shop owner Cassy Premack says it's another financial blow to the business

Prince George, B.C., gun shop owner Cassy Premack says the federal government should be teaching kids to stay out of gangs rather than banning certain guns. (K.K.S Tactical Supplies/Facebook)

A Prince George, B.C., rifle vendor who is taking legal action against the federal government's ban on assault-style weapons says its new proposed law will also mean she can't sell air guns that look like banned weapons.

On Tuesday, Ottawa introduced Bill C-21, which would compensate owners for surrendering firearms that have been prohibited since May, with the goal of reducing gun violence. It also allows municipalities to ban handguns.

The new law would also extend the ban to air guns that look like real firearms. Air guns use compressed gas to propel pellets in contrast to firearms, which ignite a propellant to fire a bullet or cartridge.

Cassy Premack — who runs the KKS Tactical Supplies gun shop with her husband — has filed a judicial review of the federal gun ban. Along with the thousands of dollars worth of real guns that have been sitting in the store's inventory due to the ban, she says they'll lose more money due to the prohibition on lookalike air guns.

"[Air guns are] about a quarter of my business," Premack said Wednesday to Carolina de Ryk, the host of CBC's Daybreak North. "I'm potentially going to be losing an additional $25,000 worth of inventory if this [Bill C-21] pushes through as it's currently written."

The federal government hasn't yet disclosed details about the firearm buy-back program, but Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said Tuesday the estimated compensation for gun owners is somewhere between $300 million and $400 million. 

A two-year amnesty period has been in place since May for gun owners to dispose of 1,500 types of banned firearms by Apr. 30, 2022.

The federal government has moved to ban the sale and import of several types of semi-automatic firearms in Canada. (CBC News)

Premack says it means troubled times for gun-selling businesses.

"[Bill C-21] really doesn't put me in any position to see any hope or change until … 2022 when we have the end of the amnesty," she said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday the gun control measures are meant to protect families, but Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole said he doubts the program will curb gun violence.

"I think Mr. Trudeau misleads people when he tries to suggest that buying things back from hunters and other Canadians who are law-abiding is somehow going to solve the problem of shooting and criminal gang activity in the big cities," O'Toole said Tuesday. "It's ignoring the real problem and it's dividing Canadians."

Premack says instead of investing millions of dollars to buy back weapons, the government would be better off spending the money on outreach programs organized by non-profits to stop gang violence in schools.

"We have other options that would be way more meaningful in our communities that would help curb that gang mentality, because these children would feel that they are emotionally supported and they would feel like they have alternatives to joining gangs," she said.

Tap the link below to hear Cassy Premack's interview on Daybreak North:

The federal government has introduced new legislation that includes a buy-back program for barred firearms, but a Prince George gunshop owner who is sitting on thousands of dollars of inventory that has been unsellable since it was made illegal last year says it is only causing more confusion for her business. 6:53

Subscribe to Daybreak North on CBC Listen or your favourite podcast app, and connect with CBC Northern British Columbia on FacebookTwitter and Instagram

With files from Daybreak North and Catharine Tunney

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