Bill C21 aims to change control over firearms. This is part of a campaign to combat gender violence and self-harm with firearms, arms smuggling, thus creating safer communities and providing greater opportunities to the inhabitants of poorer areas.
What is the purpose of the law:
“On this page proposed amendments to:
- Combat intimate partner and gender-based violence and self-harm involving firearms
- Fight gun smuggling and trafficking
- Help municipalities create safer communities
- Give young people the opportunities and resources they need to resist lives of crime
- Protect Canadians from gun violence
- Require owners of firearms (and variants) prohibited on May 1, 2020 who do not participate in the buyback program to comply with a non-permissive storage regime
- Additional changes”1
In addition, this law would create a red flag system that allows anyone to report to a court to obtain an immediate removal order for firearms, for up to 30 days, from an individual who may represent a danger to himself or for others. This law also applies to third parties who are suspected of delivering a firearm to a person who has already been sanctioned.
The maximum sentence for crimes related to the trafficking and smuggling of firearms can also be increased to between 10 and 14 years in prison. The proactive exchange between police institutions and people licensed to possess firearms will also be increased.
The decree-law is mainly focused on ending the trafficking and possession of illegal weapons, thus preventing criminal and violent acts from being committed with them. People with licenses to carry firearms and who show good citizen behavior will not be affected by this decree.
How the law would affect the possession of airsoft guns:
“Airsoft Canada is a popular sport that involves players split into two teams with the objective of eliminating the enemy team with replica firearms that shoot plastic pellets called BBs. However, unlike similar sports such as paintball, most airsoft guns are designed after real firearms.”2
Likewise, concerning legislation, there is a debate between whether to prohibit or regulate them. The regulation that is being debated proposes to limit a minimum age to be able to acquire and handle airsoft weapons, in addition to the fact that these must be acquired and possessed under licenses, which would not be as strict as for the possession of firearms.
In addition, the possibility of marking airsoft weapons with specific colors and manufacturing plastic bullets is valued, as is the law in some states of the United States.3
The debate in parliament focused on the legality that both firearms and airsoft weapons should have, with positions that range from the most restrictive to the most permissive. In the case of airsoft weapons, the regulation is based on controlling those that have greater power or great similarities with real weapons.
“I understand his opposition to Bill C-21. I would like to know if he is open to working on a technical and scientific definition of the type of firearms that should be prohibited rather than including firearms such as the airsoft guns that are in there now but should not be. There are a lot of options there.”4
With the debate still open, measures may be established to regulate and control the use and sale of airsoft weapons. The total or partial prohibition of them seems unlikely.
What is the state of the law today?:
Currently, the bill is on hold, so the debate between Conservatives and Liberals regarding this law does not have a clear solution. While liberals want airsoft guns to be considered real weapons and therefore regulated or banned, conservatives think they should only be modified to make them safer.
A total ban on the use of airsoft guns would generate an economic loss of around 100 million dollars to Canada.5 In addition, the use of airsoft weapons is quite safe, the main danger being the use among adolescents who use them irresponsibly.
It is still unknown what the final decision will be regarding the possession and use of airsoft weapons, although it seems unlikely that a total ban will be carried out.