WARMINGTON: Issues arise from sale and use of Airsoft and BB guns

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Bryan bought this gun with no license, permit or registration — and didn’t legally have to give the store his name.

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This thing looked so real, the Toronto man didn’t dare take it out of the bag until he got home.

“If you wave this around, you could definitely be shot by police and rightfully so,” he said.

Photographer Jack Boland and I met him outside the store after he bought the BB gun that resembles a .357 magnum revolver.

In additions to BB guns, people can also purchase Airsoft weapons, which also closely resemble real firearms.

Airsoft guns are set up to shoot plastic rounds that are used in simulated military games and exercises in secure areas. BB and pellet guns should be discharged safely in indoor and outdoor target shooting ranges and other locations permitted by municipal bylaws.

No one would expect any police officer, or person being held up, to tell the difference between a real firearm and one of these guns.

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The public can buy these products at many sporting goods shops. The RCMP say as long as they shoot with a velocity not “greater than 152.4 meters or 500 feet per second” there is no need to register them. You can buy one with no permit or license.

Bryan purchased his for $100 cash at a Toronto store that features a wall full of realistic-looking handguns and rifles. Even the mannequin decked out in military garb in front is holding what looks like a semi-automatic weapon.

Even though these guns are routinely labeled as replicas, they technically are not, according to the RCMP. A replica cannot fire a projectile, while looking similar to a real gun.

That said, it’s not lost on Bryan, or those who sell these guns, that pointing one at police or anybody else, can result in tragedy. A 27-year-old man was shot dead by Toronto Police in Scarborough in late May after he refused to drop a pellet gun.

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“You have to be responsible,” said Bryan.

His plan is to “take it up north” and “shoot” with friends.

There’s nothing illegal about that. There are Airsoft and paintball clubs, ranges and camps that are set up for such recreational activities.

If done properly, combat or adventure clubs are as legal for hobbyists as golfing, hunting, target shooting or stamp collecting.

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However, Toronto Police say guns which resemble real ones are being used in crimes too often.

Any gun is “considered to be a firearm under the Criminal Code if they are used to commit a crime,” says the RCMP. “Anyone who uses such an air gun to commit a crime faces the same penalties as someone who uses a regular firearm.”

One of the big concerns in the Airsoft sporting community is the Trudeau government’s planned “freeze” on the sale of handguns will apply to their weapons. Justice Minister David Lametti said last week that since they can “look the same as real firearms, police need to treat them as if they are real.”

This concerns those in the Airsoft sales business because their products are now legal and legitimate.

“It feels like they are coming for all of this when this isn’t the problem,” said one retailer.

That said, you can’t blame police for not being able to discern which gun is real?

This is why Bryan waited until he was home to admire the latest addition to his collection.

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