At June 5, 2022
We've collected a few airsoft facts that can help you in your conversations with your friends, family and especially, your Member of Parliament. This list will be updated as ASIC gathers more information and opinions, so don't be alarmed if some things change.
If you have a meeting with your Member of Parliament or an interview with media, and you'd like more details about anything that we've written you can reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org
Bill C-21 will end airsoft in Canada
The 2022 version of Bill C-21 reuses the same wording as the 2021 proposed legislation for airsoft. No effort has been made to revise this harmful wording.
The legislation as is currently proposed would prohibit 99% of airsoft guns.
If passed, this legislation would end the sport in Canada overnight, leaving retailers and importers with millions of dollars of useless inventory, players in possession of prohibited devices, and venues without paying attendees.
The legislation creates significant legal ambiguity. The bill does not define its own terms “resemble with near precision” and it offers no clear definition of how manufacturers could comply or adapt to the legislation with certainty.
The legislation creates the requirement for an “authorization or licence” for airsoft guns, but currently no such authorization or licence regime exists.
The Government specifically said in its announcement of this new legislation that it intends to ban airsoft guns.
Other countries with even stricter firearms legislation than Canada, such as Japan and the UK, still allow airsoft to be purchased and used for sport.
There has been no consultation with the industry or business community to develop legislation which might address the Government's public safety concerns.
The airsoft community has reached out to the government repeatedly but has been ignored.
Banning airsoft is a waste of resources
Resources and taxpayer dollars spent banning airsoft could have a much greater positive impact on other major issues of concern to Canadians.
The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is already seizing and destroying retailer shipments of legal airsoft products crossing the Canadian border. The CBSA could instead be focusing time and resources on illegal weapons smuggling.
The estimated billion dollars required for buy backs and enforcement of C-21 could instead be spent on programs to divert youth from gangs and organized crime, to increase the availability of mental health support, and to provide resources to women experiencing domestic abuse. The cost of implementing C-21 is orders of magnitude greater than the funds being allocated to these other concerns.
Bill C-21 will not improve public safety
Airsoft is designed to prevent injury and death. Eye & face protection is worn by players and airsoft projectiles are so small and light that they are incapable of causing death.
Airsoft guns used by the players are generally expensive boutique products sold by specialized retail stores, and they are not as affordable or accessible as low quality pellet guns sold by major Canadian retailers that are the ones used in crime.
Airsoft guns are not designed to be able to withstand the pressure of real cartridges. The vast majority of most airsoft guns are specifically designed to be impossible to convert into a real firearm.
Most airsoft retailers require customers to show ID proving age of majority, and they discuss with customers their intended use of the product and provide safety information to new players.
Prohibiting airsoft does not prevent police or the general public from mistaking common everyday objects for real firearms. Every year news stories show that common items like camera tripods, wallets and cell phones can mistakenly provoke a police response, and even these encounters are sometimes fatal.
Prohibiting airsoft does not prevent someone who is experiencing a mental health crisis from attempting a so-called suicide by cop, as knives and other common items are still readily available.
C-21’s proposed prohibition of airsoft based on physical appearance does not prevent future hypothetical “C-21 compliant” airsoft guns from being mistaken as a real firearm by police or the public. This is because changes to the shape or colour of airsoft guns would still not change the the general shape of the gun and the way the person is holding it.
This bill will harm the diverse airsoft community
Airsoft players are diverse in their political beliefs and motivations. Airsoft community surveys show a mix of support for the Liberal party, Conservatives, NDP, Bloc and Green Party. Airsoft players come from both urban and rural ridings. The vast majority of airsoft players do not own real firearms.
The sport brings together players from diverse backgrounds and forces them to work as a team to overcome challenging objectives.
Airsoft players are a diverse cross section of Canadians, with all ethnicities, genders, orientations, levels of physical ability, and religious beliefs represented. Players are employed across all Canadian industries including but not limited to: government, finance, law, retail, trades, healthcare and essential services.
Players with social anxiety, MS, and PTSD use airsoft to improve their fitness and mental well being, and experience the benefits of a tightly knit sports community. Airsoft provides motivation to improve physical fitness and diet, and live an active life.
C-21 is being used as a political wedge issue, and the expense of this vibrant community.
Airsoft businesses are already hurting, and this bill will kill them
Airsoft and paintball have a sizable economic footprint and virtually all of these businesses are all small, bootstrapped with life-savings invested.
The airsoft and paintball industries are closely connected. Many businesses cater to both sports, as do most game facilities. A prohibition of airsoft would negatively impact the paintball industry by closing venues and constricting the sport.
Airsoft events provide economic tourism stimulus for some rural regions that host events. In Prince Edward County Ontario the hospitality industry benefits hugely from the presence of the PRZ Paintball & Airsoft field, which draws hundreds of attendees weekly. This includes tourists from the US using rented airsoft and paintball equipment.
The taxpayer cost of implementing C-21 and other proposed legislation is very expensive (hundreds of millions of dollars mentioned with some estimates in the billions). This is a huge opportunity cost: taxpayer money that could be directed to stopping the smuggling and trafficking of illegal guns at the border, social programs addressing violent crime, healthcare, housing and other issues.
The prohibition of airsoft will force the closure of over 300 Canadian small businesses which employ thousands of people, and will leave retailers stuck with millions of dollars of inventory and no proposed options to compensate them.
Airsoft manufacturing is not able to adapt to the new legislation
Virtually all airsoft products are imported to Canada, and there is no domestic manufacturing of airsoft within Canada. Canada has no domestic capability to reliably produce airsoft products which might comply with C-21’s ambiguous language.
C-21 lacks a precise definition of what would constitute compliance. Canadian startup manufacturers can not risk investing in the creation of “C-21 compliant” airsoft products without such a definition.
The majority of airsoft products globally are produced by manufacturers in Asia and the United States. These manufacturers would have very little incentive to design Canada compliant products given the relative size of our market compared to the much larger global market.
Even if foreign manufacturers attempted to design a Canada compliant product line there would be no guarantee that these products would be recognized as compliant by the Canada Border Services Agency, as there is no precise language within the bill on what constitutes compliance.
C-21 creates legal ambiguity and business investment risk that would effectively prevent the sport and industry from ever rebuilding itself within Canada.
Canada would become the most restrictive market in the world for airsoft. Products legal to import into Japan, The United Kingdom, and New Zealand would still be illegal in Canada. Makes and models of real firearms would be more accessible and legal to use in Canada than airsoft products that resembled them.