The province has decided to holster a slate of new regulations around the use of gun ranges, which advocacy groups say would have shuttered more than 100 ranges in B.C.
The B.C. Wildlife Federation, a group that advocates for anglers, hunters and recreational gun users, led a “concerted” campaign calling on the Ministry of Public Safety to reconsider changes in Bill 4, otherwise known as the Firearm Violence Prevention Act, that would have required ranges to verify multiple pieces of ID from range users, including a firearms possession and acquisition license.
Bill 4 also required gun ranges to keep shooting range records on the premises that detail the name of range users, the name of the shooting club, membership numbers of users, dates on which the range was used, as well as personal information about users and the status of their federal firearms licence.
In a news release, the BCWF said regulations under Bill 4 would have required ranges to hire dedicated “commissionaires” to inspect and verify ID at the range entrance. They claim the regulations would add up to $150,000 in employee costs, infrastructure changes, record keeping and information storage, which smaller gun ranges simply cannot afford.
“Many of our ranges are remote and run exclusively by volunteers as a public service. Closing these ranges would have resulted in more people heading out to the woods to shoot in uncontrolled spaces,” BCWF executive director Jesse Zeman said. “This is already a growing issue on the Lower Mainland where ranges have been closed by municipalities. Municipalities and the province should support safe, well-run ranges, rather than pushing people out into the woods.”
Zeman said the BCWF received a letter from the Ministry of Public Safety informing them that the regulatory changes to shooting ranges would not be moving ahead.
The Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General told Black Press Media that the regulations around gun ranges were intended to deter gang members who were known to visit ranges in the Lower Mainland. However, gang enforcement experts informed the government that deterring gang members from using shooting ranges had been achieved through “other means”.
“The remainder of the FPVA [Bill 4], with the exception of the vehicle impoundment scheme, is intended to be implemented in Fall 2022. Government is currently accessing how to efficiently administer the FVPA impoundment scheme and will proceed with implementation once that work is complete,” the ministry said in a statement.
Other provisions of Bill 4 will limit the possession and use of low velocity and imitation firearms by youth, penalize drivers who illegally transport firearms, authorize the impoundment of vehicles used to transport illegal firearms or flee from police, and prohibit people from having real or imitation firearms in certain settings like schools or hospitals unless there is a legitimate purpose.