Canadian gun imports jumped in the first nine months of the year to the second-highest level on record, in a turbulent period that saw shipments surge before a planned legal change, and then plunge.
The gains were driven by shotguns from Italy, rifles from Finland and handguns from Austria.
Imports climbed 24 percent to $131.7 million this year through September from $106.4 million in the same period of 2016, according to data published today by Statistics Canada. That’s the most since the record-high level in the first nine months of 2014.
Almost all the guns sold in Canada come from abroad, and imports are the only publicly available measure of the market and the health of the industry. Companies import more when they expect demand to rise, or when supplies become available. Companies import less when they expect demand to fall, or when they can’t get all the guns they want.
It typically takes three to six months from when guns are ordered until they arrive, so imports say more about the outlook for business in the past than what is happening now. Even though it’s like looking through the rear window of your car to see where you are, it’s the only window we’ve got.
Marking Regulations Whiplash
Business this year got whiplashed by the threat of the government’s Firearms Marking Regulations, new import laws that risked hurling the industry into a crisis. The regulations were set to take effect on June 1 and were postponed at the second-last minute. Nordic Marksman Inc., which supplies rifles to Canadian Olympic shooters, was among companies that halted orders on concern they would arrive after the start date.
The value of inbound firearms soared to a one-month record of $26.7 million in May as importers scrambled to take delivery before the deadline. Incoming orders plunged after that and dropped each month since then. September hit a 10-month low. Total shipments in the four months from June to September sank to their lowest level since 2011.
|Year||Value ($ Million)|
Highlights From Imports in January-September 2017
- Second-highest value on record, behind 2014.
- Threat of Firearms Marking Regulations led to record-high in May followed by plunge in June-September.
- Top-10 countries of origin: Austria is in, Russia is out.
- Italy overtakes U.S. and Turkey to become top country of origin for shotguns. (Benelli?) The gains propel Italy into the No. 2 spot for firearms overall, behind the U.S.
- Finland leapfrogs Japan to become No. 2 country of origin for rifles. (Tikka?) Finland jumps to No. 4 country overall.
- Austrian handgun imports surge by almost 6 times. (Glock?) See here.
- Imports from China more than double.
- The import statistics don’t mention companies or brands.
Top-Five Countries of Origin, January-September 2017, in CAD Million
|1||U.S., $70.0||U.S., $60.8|
|2||Italy, $13.3||Turkey, $9.0|
|3||Turkey, $10.0||Italy, $8.1|
|4||Finland, $6.8||Japan, $5.8|
|5||Japan, $6.3||Finland, $3.9|
|1||U.S., $43.2||U.S., $36.9|
|2||Finland, $6.7||Japan, $4.3|
|3||Japan, $5.0||Finland, 3.9|
|4||Czech Rep., $2.4||Russia, $2.4|
|5||China, $1.9||Czech Rep., $1.8|
|1||Italy, $9.6||U.S., $9.1|
|2||Turkey, $8.9||Turkey, $8.4|
|3||U.S., $8.1||Italy, $5.7|
|4||Belgium, $1.8||Belgium, $1.8|
|5||Japan, $1.3||Japan, $1.5|
|1||U.S., $18.3||U.S., $14.6|
|2||Czech Rep., $2.5||Germany, $1.7|
|3||Austria, $2.3||Czech Rep., $1.7|
|4||Italy, $2.2||Italy, $1.2|
|5||Germany, $2.0||Austria, $0.4|
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