Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. – George Santayana
After a discussion on the forum, this particular fact got me wondering about how many know, remember, or realize how close we came close to losing Paintball in this country. So here’s a little bit of history…
In 1995, Bill C-68 came out, which would become the Firearms Act. This newest batch of gun laws had Paintballers sweating bullets (no pun intended)! The way it was worded, it looked like Paintball markers could fall under the category of firearms. After some clarification and digging by a lot of people, we discovered we were ok, but just barely. Here’s an idea of how the legislation reads that pertains to us:
- exempt from most of the requirements of the Firearms Act if “not designed or adapted to discharge a shot, bullet or other projectile at a muzzle velocity exceeding 152.4 meters per second (500 feet per second) and at a muzzle energy exceeding 5.7 Joules.”
- subject to all the requirements of the Firearms Act if it exceeds the 152.4 meters/second muzzle velocity AND 5.7 Joule muzzle energy limits.
This means that the owner must possess a firearms license, registration certificate, and (if the airgun falls under the restricted or prohibited categories) an Authorization to Transport (Source: http://www.panda.com/canadaguns/#airgun)
A paintball definitely impacts over the energy limit (around 11.87 Joules, double what the legislation allows), but our saving grace was the fact we shoot under the 500 fps. Note that word “and”; prior to the passage of Bill C-10A it was an “or”. That meant that if either the muzzle velocity or muzzle energy limits were exceeded, then the owner must possess a firearms license, registration certificate, and possibly also an Authorization to Transport. Meaning if the wording wasn’t changed, none of us would be playing right now unless you owned a firearms license. Even if you did have all the licensing, every time you played, you’d be essentially pointing a firearm at someone (Section 87) and that’s punishable for up to 5 years in jail.
Also under the laws, we were technically committing assault with a weapon every time we played. Now I don’t recall if this was re-worded later on or if it was in the original draft, but somewhere the wording says that as long as an airgun is being used for the purpose for which it was intended (playing Paintball, in our case) then you were OK. Once it was used outside of what it was intended for (vandalism, drive by’s, ect.) then you could be charged under the Firearms Act. So the next time some guys think it’ll be fun to shoot up road signs on the way home from the field, you are committing a firearms felony and can be charged!
Now, the purpose behind this is to remind people that although we’re technically safe, all we need is one over-zealous politician with an agenda, and we could lose it all! There have been some that already tried. Trying to help out players in other countries is a great gesture, but our attention and energy should be focused on securing our position in this country. We can’t affect what other Governments do, but we can affect our own, which is where our concern should be. Our status is nowhere near secure, and in this day and age of heightened paranoia awareness, we need to be ever vigilant. Public opinion is everything and we have to be ambassadors for the sport every time we go play, and in our conduct off the field if we’re doing anything that would identify us as a Paintballer. All we need is for “and” to be changed back to “or” in the current legislation and we’re screwed.
Focus your energy in taking care of the home front first, promote the sport locally, and be the example that others can use.