A record year for Canada
Gun Trade World speaks to Alison de Groot, the Managing Director of the Canadian Sporting Arms and Ammunition Association (CSAAA) which represents manufacturers, importers, distributors, sales agencies, retailers and gunsmiths in the Canadian sporting arms industry.
It’s been a wild year for Canadian firearms manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers. Not only did our businesses have to cope with doing business during a pandemic, but we were hit with huge legislative blows driven by the anti-gun movement and implemented by the current federal government here.
The pandemic has resulted in a meaningful boom to our sporting arms businesses as outdoor activities like hunting and recreational shooting have surged. Many retailers are telling CSAAA this has been a record year for hunting product sales.
That being said, there’s a significant amount of industry capital tied up in the wholesale and retail inventory of recently prohibited firearms. On May 1st, 2020, the current Liberal Government of Canada banned more than 1500 specific models of firearms using a misleading label of “assault weapons” by Order in Council (an un-debated legislative order not subject to any review process or vote by the full Government, similar to a Presidential Order in the U.S.). This resulted in all models of AR-15s and anything the Government deemed to be a “variant” thereof, covering a wide swath of semi-automatic modern hunting and sporting rifles, becoming prohibited for both retailers and current firearms owners. It’s important to note that all fully automatic firearms were banned in Canada in 1978 and that semi-automatic rifles are limited to five-rounds by law, making the term “assault weapons” disingenuous at best, an outright lie to the Canadian public at worst.
These firearms are now in lock-down with their owners while the Government attempts to design and fund a taxpayer funded “buy-back” program. Owners are covered by a two-year amnesty for possession which expires on May 1st, 2022. The OIC ban also prohibited any firearm with a bore diameter larger than 20mm and any rifle “capable” of producing 10K plus joules of energy. The government has yet to provide clear definitions for the term “variant” or the term “capable” to the CSAAA and its business members. In the meantime, the Government has used the order to add an additional 400 plus models to the May 1st ban on an ongoing basis, which now includes many single shot, bolt action, .22 rimfire and even some air rifles. These newly added firearms are prohibited retroactively to May 1st, 2020 causing mass confusion in the ownership chain required to be covered by the amnesty period.
The industry, consumer groups representing firearms owners, and many individual owners and businesses have launched multiple legal challenges that are working their way through the Canadian courts system.
Despite the huge amount of retail and consumer capital tied up in the recently banned firearms, demand in Canada for all other firearms and ammunition is currently outpacing supply. Canadian retailers are desperate to resupply ammunition, hunting rifle, shotgun, handgun and hunting accessory inventories. The combination of pandemic-slowed manufacturing and logistics and the huge U.S. domestic market demand have left Canadian importers will scarce supply chains. Some of our largest importers are seeing up to 12-month order backlogs. Some 90 per cent of our hunting and sport shooting gear is imported into Canada, the bulk coming in from the U.S. Canadian importers and distributors would be well-served by the introduction of new international brands able to come into the Canadian market to fill these voids. Manufactures interested in learning more about the Canadian market and its leading importers/distributors are welcome to get in touch with the CSAAA to get networked.
We’re also seeing a huge influx of want-to-be new participants to hunting and sport shooting in Canada. However; our firearms licensing process requires in-person classroom training, a relatively long license application and background check process all of which are slowed due to the pandemic. We expect the positive effects of all of this new interest to produce a steady influx of new customers for quite some time even post-pandemic.
Canadian sporting arms business owners are working incredibly hard to navigate both the bad and the good these days with both scenarios bringing their own challenges.
Alison de Groot
Canadian Sporting Arms and Ammunition Association (CSAAA)