Guns ‘Selling Like Crazy’ on Ban Concern: Firearms Outlet Canada — Canadian shooters are rushing to buy AR-15 rifles and other target guns on concern the government will ban new purchases in three weeks, said Firearms Outlet Canada Inc., one of the country’s biggest independent gun stores.

Speculation of new prohibitions fired up four days ago after Tony Clement, an independent member of parliament, said without citing his sources that the Liberal Party government is preparing to order a “sweeping gun ban” in early June. The Canadian Shooting Sports Association, citing two unidentified government sources, said the prohibitions will include semi-automatic AR-15 target rifles.

‘Selling Like Crazy’

“We’ve been selling like crazy,” Fred Pellegrino, the store owner, told by telephone today. “I’m pretty sure it’s very connected to the stories. It’s not normal for this time of year.”

A store employee said one shopper came to Firearms Outlet Canada in Ajax, Ontario, about 45 km northeast of Toronto, to buy the shop’s most-expensive and reputable AR-15 so it would last him for life. He wanted a Daniel Defense Inc. rifle costing almost $3,000. That model was sold out, so he ordered the next-priciest version, one by Colt Canada Corp.

More Canadian Than Hockey

“I was part of this wave,” Joel Scotia said on Twitter in response to this article.

Hunting and sport shooting are at the heart of Canadian heritage and culture. About 2.2 million adults have a federal firearm licence, more than play hockey, and they buy a thousand new guns a day. Millions more family and friends of all ages also shoot safely and responsibly under the control of licensed shooters.

Owning any gun is banned for anyone without a permit, under threat of prison.

Another Firearms Outlet Canada staffer said several shoppers called for an AR-15 without caring about the brand. They’re racing to own the guns in a bet the government will allow them to keep the firearms after any new prohibitions.

Bill C-71 Delayed Confiscations

The Liberals are about to pass Bill C-71 as a new law to confiscate rifles from more than 10,000 owners after they die. The law would also simplify future bans by blocking new buyers while allowing existing owners to hang onto their firearms until death. Then the police confiscate and destroy them.

The Liberals have been examining a “full ban” on handguns and many rifles and shotguns since August. A spokeswoman for Bill Blair, the minister leading the study, said May 9 in response to Clement that nothing had been decided.

Read: ‘Pretty Big Measures’ Underway to Restrict Guns, Blair Tells CTV

The government gives the AR-15 the legal label of “Restricted” and requires special police permission and registration to buy one.

‘Busier Than Normal’

Some clients of Firearms Outlet Canada are buying so-called “Non-restricted” models that don’t require police registration.

The legal label is misleading because all shooters and their guns are severely restricted by law. The slightest violation can lead to jail.

“The last four days have been pretty busy, busier than normal,” Pellegrino said.

Bans for Votes

Prohibitions could boost the Liberal Party in this year’s election while killing the shooting sports and the firearm industry in slow motion. Opinion polls show Liberal voters are the most hostile to gun owners in favouring prohibition.

Pellegrino is also preparing a sale on Victoria Day long weekend May 18 to 20, offering discounts on guns, ammunition, accessories and other products, he said. The store will publish details on social media and in its newsletter.

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Correction at 20:05 Toronto time: Corrects name of Canadian Shooting Sports Association.