Marstar President Khoee Q&A: Election Outlook for Gun Industry — Marstar Canada President Payam Khoee comments below in an interview about what’s at stake in next month’s election for his firearm business and the industry.

Marstar specializes in importing and selling military-surplus firearms. The company is based in Vankleek Hill, 100 km east of Ottawa.

Khoee led the employee buyout of the company from its previous owner as a new business effective Jan. 1 this year. He’s part of a staff of six.

He spoke with by e-mail yesterday.

If this election goes poorly, the entire firearm industry will be getting kneecapped.

—Marstar Canada President Payam Khoee

How significant is Election 2019 for you?
A lot of customers are asking us about what we think of the election.

The main battle that’s on my mind right now is: What kind of future do we have if the Conservatives don’t get in?

We already have an idea of what the Liberals are going to try to ban, but how big of an impact it has on our business is unknown.


What do things look like to you?
If the Liberals, NDP or Greens form government — I don’t believe the People’s Party of Canada has the infrastructure to deliver an election victory — they’re going to go after semi-auto rifles and pistols.

They’re going to go after what they call “assault” rifles or “assault-style” rifles. We all know that assault rifles have been prohibited for decades, but that’s what they are going to call semi-autos. “Assault-style,” to use their terminology, is not a legally defined term, and can basically include everything ever made.

If you go back to the 1990s or further, it’s the same playbook. There’s not an original thought here, so we already know that they’re going to create open-ended and poorly worded legislation that’s meant to be convoluted and impossible to understand.


How would that affect Marstar and the industry in general?
What do consumers have after all that? If anyone politically left of the Conservatives has a majority for a number of years, what do we have left that we can sell after that?

The firearm industry will suffer, many will likely lose their jobs, and we’ll lose a lot of the technical expertise and knowledge that Canada currently enjoys.


What would we be left with?
We’d be limited to old-style military rifles of years past, which traditionally has been Marstar’s specialty. We like where the industry is today with the new products and innovation we see in the market.

If this election goes poorly, the entire firearm industry will be getting kneecapped.

“IPSC, IDPA, Cowboy Action … all of that would be on the chopping block”

How would it hurt industry?
People will often look at a firearm online and say, “That looks cool!” and pick one up, or if they don’t have a firearms licence, the firearm may be enough to entice them to go through the bureaucracy and get their licence.

If all we have accessible is bolt-action action rifles, it’s not as appealing as an impulse buy, it’s not as cool as a kitted-out AR-15, especially when people can easily see what’s available on the American market.

If they remove the number of products that are available, of course it will have an impact, and it will have an impact on the future of our shooting sports.

I’m thinking of disciplines like IPSC, IDPA, Cowboy Action that are rising in popularity, all of that would be on the chopping block, and those disciplines are a great source of new shooters to our industry.

Hitting us where we recruit new shooters will have a direct impact on the businesses that are operating now, and on our voting power as a community in the future.


The Liberals are also talking about banning gun owners in cities.
Saying firearm owners can’t live in cities is a violation of our rights to mobility, but that hasn’t stopped anyone before.

They know that it will take a court challenge to get that law thrown out, and court challenges are expensive.

This is a losing proposition either way, since it will take up our limited resources to fight against the government’s essentially limitless pockets, that are backed by our tax dollars.


How do you handle communicating about politics as a business? A lot of businesses, clubs and ranges won’t tell their clients or members about what’s happening politically and legislatively.
I think it’s important to separate my views as an individual and the views of the business, to avoid presenting my personal opinion as a company opinion.

Marstar doesn’t have a political affiliation of its own, and instead contributes to our gun organizations to represent our interests and speak on our behalf.

Most of our customers are Conservatives. But there’s also some who aren’t. A lot of customers won’t deal with a company if they disagree with them politically, and I’d prefer to stick to what we can all get behind, and that’s our orgs, rather than what may divide us in politics.


What do you tell customers concerned about new legislation?
When laws are pronounced, the first thing we do is go and read them.

When customers call us and ask for information, we tell them what we know based on our understanding, with the disclaimer that we’re not legal experts, and they should refer to the specialists with the CCFR, CSSA, and CSAAA.