TheGunBlog.ca — Ontario Chief Firearms Officer Dwight Peer, who oversees approvals and inspections of the province’s almost 300 target ranges, discusses new visits to clubs and ranges during shooting days and live-fire events.
The drop-ins began at a handful of clubs this year and are different from formal inspections when ranges are closed. The CFO said his inspectors will ramp up visits in 2020.
Ontario is home to about 620,000 men and women with a federal firearm Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL), more than one-fourth the total in Canada.
Peer, who has passed his CFSC and CRFSC to apply for his PAL, spoke with TheGunBlog.ca by telephone on Dec. 6.
His comments below are presented in order, under headings by TheGunBlog.ca.
Ontario CFO Dwight Peer Comments
On the new checks:
What we have started as well is visits during live fire.
It’s not so much an inspection as that we’re showing up when there’s a shoot going on at a range.
On the rationale:
The rationale is when people are out using the range, it gives us an opportunity to engage with the membership to see how the range is actually being used.
We see ourselves as part of the firearms community and we have our role to do.
Every range is safe when no one is shooting on it.
When we can go in and see a shoot and come back with the knowledge that the membership was very disciplined on the line, that the commands from the range officer were clear and precise, that the signs and instructions for the shoot were well managed by the club, that’s a good-news story for the club because we’re there seeing it.
On early impressions:
We haven’t done a lot of them, but we’ve done some of them.
Our inspectors have ended up having some great interactions with the shooting community. It’s a great opportunity for them to have interaction with us.
It ended up with some positive dialogue.
On Ontario CFO approach:
From an Ontario perspective, that’s something different that we’re bringing in. I really want to be able to stand beside the shooting community. I want our office to know what’s happening in a true sense.
We’ve been out there with the shooting community.
On club visits by inspectors:
Generally they’ve been asking when there’s a scheduled shoot, such as: Is there a trap-shooting event or an IPSC shoot?
On whether these are spot checks:
There’s no intention of a surprise drop in. It’s not really like that.
We want to go when there’s something going on when we can interact with the shooters.
Many of the times these clubs aren’t that big. If there’s one shooter, that’s of limited impact.
There’s no intention to be catching people with a, “Hey, we got you!” type of thing.
I suspect our inspectors would be speaking with the safety officer.
By no means is it a surprise inspection. If we’re having people go out, we’ll schedule the attendance of our guys.
On when the visits started:
We’ve done this in the 2019 inspection season. Spring-summer.
On views so far:
Overwhelmingly it’s been positive, not only the response, but the perspective of our inspectors.
Anytime something new is done, it’s looked at with suspicion.
We’re coming by with a positive reason. If there’s a safety concern, we’re going to speak up. It’s just a good opportunity for our inspectors to see the ranges in use.
Overwhelmingly the comments have been very positive by our inspectors.
As a CFO, it’s very encouraging to see a shooting community that’s safe in using our clubs.
On deciding which clubs to visit:
It’s not like we’re out at every shoot.
It’s the more significant shoots that are held at the more significant clubs.
We’re trying it out.
On the informal visits vs. formal inspections:
We have our inspection process. Obviously when we have our inspection, it’s not a shooting day. The range is closed. We have anywhere from 17 to 21 inspectors who are doing this work at almost 300 clubs.
[The new visits during shooting days:] It’s something we wanted to try.
Next year we’ll probably have some better numbers and our guys will be more used to it.
On working with the shooting community:
We’re there as observers and to remain educated and have that interaction with the community. If there’s any education that can go on, I see that as a positive thing.
There’s a lot of misconception about the CFO. If they’ve got particular questions, we’re confident that our inspectors are generally in a great position to answer those questions.
On perceptions by ranges that CFO applies rules arbitrarily:
A reasonable thing to look for is consistency. All clubs don’t really operate the same. Some clubs pay more attention to things. There are varying degrees of care at clubs.
I don’t know if it’s always an apples-to-apples comparison.
On compliance and inspections:
We want to promote public safety in the best sense.
Compliance is not the day we’re there, when there’s an inspection announced and people are getting the rakes out. Compliance is when we’re not there. That responsibility rests with the club.
The fact that we’re there, that’s only a moment in time. It’s really incumbent on the club to have continuous surveillance. Are there erosion issues that they have to deal with? It shouldn’t fall on the CFO to have to tell them to do that.
We’re only there for a moment in time. They’re there throughout the year. If something needs to be repaired, they should be on that and their membership should be concerned about that.
We’re not out there to be surprising anybody.
We’re there to show up and have a good interaction with the community.