Nova Scotia

Gun shop owner says 'we're outta business' if Ottawa passes handgun ban

The owner of a gun shop in Truro, N.S., says he and his customers are worried he'll have to close his operation if the federal government goes ahead with a full ban on handguns.

Federal government recently announced it would study a ban on handguns, assault weapons

Gordon Hunt says he doesn't see the need for a handgun ban because he believes the use of them is already highly regulated. (CBC)

A Nova Scotia gun shop owner fears he'll have to close his operation if Ottawa moves ahead with a full ban on handguns.

Gordon Hunt, who owns the Hunt Indoor Gun Range in Truro, has been closely following the debate surrounding gun control in Canada.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sent a mandate letter to Bill Blair — the minister for border security and organized crime reduction — tasking him with working alongside Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale on policy, regulations or legislation on gun control.

The letter said Blair should also "lead an examination of a full ban on handguns and assault weapons in Canada, while not impeding the lawful use of firearms by Canadians." 

If Ottawa follows through with a ban on handguns, said Hunt, "we're outta business."

'They're not getting my guns'

"What are we going to do? Number one, how are they going to pick up everybody's handgun? And does that mean that we're not going to have any recreational shooting at all?" said Hunt.

"People that come in to my store, we talk about it every day. A lot of people are worried." 

Dale Macdonald says law-abiding citizens who have the proper training should be allowed to possess handguns. (CBC)

Dale Macdonald, a member of Hunt's club, said she doesn't want to see a ban put in place.

"They're not getting my guns," she said.

"I think everyone of us law-abiding citizens that are trained to use them to target shoot and have fun should be entitled to do so."

Highly regulated process

Hunt said handgun ownership and usage is already highly regulated in Canada. 

"Legally, to use a handgun, you must shoot it in an environment where there is supervision," he said. "You just can't go out anywhere and shoot that firearm."

Gordon Hunt fires a shot at his gun range in Truro, N.S. (CBC)

A number of steps must be taken to legally obtain a handgun in Canada, including acquiring a PAL, or possession and acquisition licence. Those seeking a PAL have to complete two eight-to-12-hour courses administered through Safety Services Nova Scotia.

"You're going to have to demonstrate that you can handle a pistol adequately for them to issue you a licence," said Hunt.

Then there's the wait, up to eight weeks, while the federal government conducts background checks. A licence holder can't purchase a handgun from a retailer like Hunt unless they are already a member of a gun club. 

On Tuesday, the federal government announced it would launch a study on a full ban on handguns and assault weapons in Canada. (CBC)

Of the 255 Maritime gun owners who belong to Hunt's club, he estimates 90 per cent leave their handgun at his lockup room instead of taking it home. Those who opt to keep their firearm at home must store it in a safe or another locked box that can't be removed from the home.

"Not only that, you must not stop anywhere when you go home — you go directly from the handgun range [to] home," he said.

Anti-violence activist supports ban

Quentrel Provo, an anti-violence activist in Halifax, has organized marches after gun violence in the city. He founded the organization Stop the Violence after his cousin Kaylin Diggs was killed in a downtown Halifax assault in 2012

"Guns have been a problem, but it's the person behind the gun that's pulling the trigger," he said.

"We have to deal with that and try to figure out how to get to them before we get to that stage to kill someone or take a life."

Quentrel Provo says he supports a handgun ban, but says criminals would still manage to get their hands on them. (CBC)

Provo said he would support a ban but suggested it would not put an end to gun violence.

"I'm game, but at the end of the day, guys are getting guns illegally anyway," he said. "And it's taking lives."

About the Author

Preston Mulligan has been a reporter in the Maritimes for more than 20 years. Along with his reporting gig, he also hosts CBC Radio's Sunday phone-in show, Maritime Connection.