Martin's gun ban proposal sparks salesBy SARAH PETRESCU Monday, December 26, 2005 Posted at 1:43 AM EST From Monday's Globe and Mail The morning after Paul Martin campaigned in Toronto's crime-ridden Jane-Finch corridor and pledged to ban handguns, Frank Hiemstra walked in to work at Shooter's Choice gun store and range and got a surprising phone call. The guy says, Get me two 1911s. They don't want me to have one gun, I'm going to buy two,' Mr. Hiemstra said. Mr. Hiemstra, whose store is in Waterloo, Ont., said the announced ban has had a noticeable effect on sales: We're definitely selling more guns than normal. Gun shop owners and distributors across the country say handgun sales have increased since the Liberal Leader promised to ban them if his party wins the next election. Buyers are stocking up on coveted models before it's too late and hoping the ban would not be retroactive by including guns already owned. The people that are buying these guns hope they'll be covered under the exemption Martin said there'd be for target shooters, said Sean Hansen, who manages Freedom Ventures Ltd., a high-end handgun distributor in Halifax. And if they are seized, they've said, we'll have a very recent receipt showing the market value,' which Mr. Martin promised when he said he'd buy up all the guns. Phil Harnois is a former police officer who now owns one of the biggest gun shops in Western Canada. Handgun sales at his Edmonton store, P&D Enterprises, have skyrocketed since the Liberal announcement. In a week we've done about 60 handguns, where we'd normally sell about 15, Mr. Harnois said. It's certainly driven sales and we didn't try and assist that at all. People just came on their own. He's worried sales might plummet, though, if the ban goes into effect. In the short term, yeah, we're doing quite well in sales. But soon we're going to exhaust our inventory and we don't know if they'll allow more handguns in Canada, Mr. Harnois said. There are more than 500,000 legally registered handguns in this country. Most are owned by police, security guards, collectors and licensed target shooters. Under the proposed ban, collectors would have to permanently disable or get rid of their guns. But Mr. Martin said legitimate target shooters who meet strict requirements would be exempt. He did not, however, explain what those requirements would be leaving target shooters frustrated by the idea of more red tape in what is already a strictly and cumbersomely regulated sport. People are saying, Piss off a Liberal: buy a handgun,' said Len Kucey, owner of Phoenix Indoor Range and Gun Shop in Edmonton, who has also seen a boost in sales. He said the people who come to his shop are tired of politicians making threats against the sport and not explaining any of it. We get calls all day about these announcements and regulations, What's your feeling on this, what's going to change?' Mr. Kucey said. It's all very frustrating, because they [the government] are not doing the right thing. I would bet my house that less than 5 per cent of these crimes they talk about are committed by lawful gun owners. Mr. Kucey said target shooting is a popular pastime in the area and he gets all types of shooters walking through his doors, from first-timers to national competitors. We get lots of stagette parties in here, Mr. Kucey said. It's a lot of fun and women tend to be very good, better than the guys, beginners. Wendy Cukier, president of the Coalition for Gun Control and a professor of justice studies at Ryerson University in Toronto, said she's not surprised by the boom in handgun sales: A similar trend occurred in the United States in the early 1990s when assault weapons were banned. This is also the first time Canadian authorities have proposed confiscating banned guns with a buy-back, she said. In the past, owners could keep outlawed guns already in their possession. Gun bans in Canada have typically been on future sales, Ms. Cukier said, which explains why people might be rushing to buy them in hopes of keeping them. Ms. Cukier said she doubts the spike in gun sales is politically motivated. The only other thing that makes any sense to me is that people either think the guns will become more valuable with the ban or less available. Ms. Cukier said her organization has not taken a position on the ban, but advocates for stricter gun control in general. The reality is legal guns are often diverted to illegal markets and end up being used in crime, she said. I think many legal owners are in denial about this and do need to take more responsibility Wanna kill these ads? We can help!