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Call To Action - Canadian Paintball Threatened by Law
by Mike Ratko

NOTE: This issue has been resolved.  This article is online for historical reference.  Please see Canadian Legal Threat Resolved for more current information.

There has been much discussion and concern over pending legislation that would classify paintball markers as firearms.  This is not an April fool's joke gone bad.  Considerable time has been spent verifying the information, researching the history, status and process.  The following is a brief explanation and a suggestions for moving forward.

There lies before Parliament, Bill C-15, a omnibus bill submitted by the Minister of Justice, Anne McLellan, to amend several parts of the Criminal Code of Canada.  One section of the bill involves the definition of a firearm.  Canada is tightening up its gun laws.  A firearm was recently defined as a [device capable of discharging] "a shot, bullet or other projectile at a muzzle velocity exceeding 152.4 m per second, or (ii) a shot, bullet or other projectile that is designed or adapted to attain a velocity exceeding 152.4 m per second.

Airguns have always fought to be excluded from firearm designation.  An airgun that discharges pellets a 480fps will discharge a new light-weight pellet at velocities over 600fps.  This caught the attention of the RCMP and was referred to the National Firearm Technical Committee (NFTC) of the Canadian Firearm Centre (CFC).  The CFC is a division of the Ministry of Justice.  The original 
recommendations of the NFTC included among other things, an exclusion
for paintball.  Somewhere in the drafting of the legislation, this exclusion (and a few other things) were omitted.  That is what got usto where we are today.

The NFTC recognizes the seriousness of the omission and will be meeting on April 26 to review this and other omissions.  (This is the April 26 date seen in some correspondence.  The April 9th date is a phantom date unless someone else can lend credence to it.  Parliament will take a two week recess beginning on April 9 and will not reconvene until April 23.  Until then, nothing can get done.)
 The bill (Bill C-15) has received its first reading in Parliament.  That means the bill has been introduced and now has a life of its own.  A second reading in Parliament will now occur.  This is just a formality.  We cannot stop it and cannot expect any changes to the proposed legislation at this point.  Right after the second reading, the bill will be referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights (the Committee).  It is here that the bill will be reviewed section by section and clause by clause.  It is at this stage of the process that changes can be made.  A member of the Committee has already confirmed that no date has been set for the second reading of the bill and that the bill will be discussed in committee, section by section.  The NFTC and members of the paintball industry have already petitioned the Committee to make presentations on the issues at hand. 

The meeting dates for the Committee can be found on the following website:

http://www.parl.gc.ca/InfoCom/CommitteeSchedule.asp?Language=E&Parliam
ent=8&Joint=0&CommitteeID=151

The status of the bill (C-15) can be followed at this website:

http://www.parl.gc.ca/37/1/parlbus/chambus/house/status/status1-e.html

Please note that the CFC is issuing a statement that paintballs would not fall under the proposed legislation there is no language to support this.  The goal should be a well written, clear definition and piece of legislation.  Do you want to be the person charged with the illegal possession of a firearm?  Even though you may not be guilty by the intent of the law, you are by the letter of the law and will have to defend yourself at considerable cost. 

It is EXTREMELY important to clarify that the paintball players and industry should not take this as an attack on paintball.  It appears to be an oversight on the lawyers that drafted the legislation.  Rather than take a defensive position about paintball, we should take on the role as EDUCATORS.  Advise your Member of Parliament (MP) that an tremendous error has occurred and if corrected could save a lot of (sales) tax revenue and jobs (and votes).

Attached is a letter to be used by paintball player or business in contacting a MP or other contact regarding this issue.  Please place on your letterhead, update the date, and personalize the letter (or email) to the person you are addressing.  It is important to keep this as professional as possible.    Time is of the essence.  Please do not delay in writing your letters.  Please contact other paintball businesses in your area (even if they are competitors) and work together.  A list of people who should receive a letter follows.  REMEMBER, letters to MP's in Ottawa DO NOT require postage!

* Your local MP(s) (Liberal or otherwise), this website has all their addresses

http://www.parl.gc.ca/common/SenatorsMembers_house.asp?Language=E&Parl
=37&Ses=1&Sect=hoccur

* Honorable Brian Tobin, Minister of Industry, email:
Tobin.B@parl.gc.ca
Room 607, Confederation Building
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6
Telephone: (613) 992-4133 
Fax: (613) 992-7277 

* Honorable Anne McLellan, Minister of Justice and Attorney
General of Canada, email:  McLellan.A@parl.gc.ca
Room 707, Confederation Building
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6
Telephone: (613) 992-4524 
Fax: (613) 943-0044

* Canadian Firearms Centre
284 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON  K1A 0H8
tel:  800 731 4000
fax:  613 941 1991
email:  canadian.firearms@justice.gc.ca

If you are an American manufacturer, distributor, or store and have Canadian customers, please feel free to pass this note along to them.

Business Letter - Microsoft Word (Shift-Click to save)

Player Letter - Microsoft Word (Shift-Click to save)

Thanks to the following people for their input and suggestions thus far:
Jessica Sparks @ APG Magazine
Wayne Pretty @ Kolder Canada
J.J. Brookshire @ Airgun Design
Lloyd Heise @ Crosman
Tony Bernardo @ CILA

Thank you in advance for your assistance.  Should you have any questions or comments, please feel free to call or write.

Michael J. Ratko
Vice President - Technical Development
Procaps Inc./Diablo Paintball
6000 Kieran,
Ville St. Laurent, QC  H4S 2B5
Tel.:  514 337 1779, ext. 229
Fax:  514 337 5209
email: mike.ratko@procaps.com

 


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