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Bill Blair: Toy guns should look like toys

Canada's public safety minister says replica guns used for airsoft are too similar to the real thing and need to change
2020-03-27 airsoft pistol prescott
FILE PHOTO. Airsoft pistol seized in Prescott, March 25, 2020. Photo/ OPP

A toy gun should look like a toy gun, not the real deal.

Therein lies the rub with the airsoft industry according to Canada's public safety minister Bill Blair.

Canada's airsoft industry has been speaking out of late against the country's new gun legislation which it says unfairly targets what amounts to a game of BB tag.

Blair, on the other hand, says bill C-21 is not meant to eliminate the game or the industry, but to force a stop to the sale of exact replica guns and rifles.

"Replica firearms, which are essentially exact replicas of highly dangerous firearms, we do regulate those firearms, but the exact replica can present a very significant challenge for the police and for communities," said Blair.

Blair says he's heard from mayors and chiefs of police across the country who say the very real looking guns are being used in very real crimes.

"And when the police confront individuals with these firearms, because they are virtually indistinguishable from the real thing, it can create a very, very dangerous situation," he said.

Blair says other impacts are also very real, like the trauma experienced by the victims of these crimes because there's no way to know if the gun being pointed at you isn't real.

So that's the problem with airsoft right now and that's what the government is looking to change as part of its new gun legislation.

"The only thing we're saying is [the guns] can't exactly replicate and be indistinguishable from the real thing because that creates an unacceptable risk," said Blair.

As for retailers who say the law will wipe them out, Blair says all they need to do is change the guns.

"It's certainly possible for people engaged in the manufacture or retail of those devices to render them, either by colour or by significant markings, distinguishable from the real thing, and I don't think that, in any way, limits their recreational use," he said.

"And I've heard from some of the retailers that the exact image and replicating the real thing is part of the fun of these things but, quite frankly, I think we have to strike a balance and we have to consider the impact on public safety."


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