Canada's proposed gun laws may keep Americans away

Canada's proposed gun laws may keep Americans away
(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

While hunting is on the decline in the United States, it’s still far from a dead pastime. Tons of people enjoy hitting the woods and bagging something for the freezer. Some people even travel overseas for the experience of hunting somewhere besides their local hunting grounds.

But it seems that proposed Canadian gun laws are concerning because they may keep a lot of hunters out of Canada.

In Dale Clark’s estimation, the money brought into New Brunswick by non-resident hunters — Americans or others — has never been fully appreciated.

“It is a multi-million dollar industry in the province that is not being recognized by our government, federal or provincial,” said Clark, president of the New Brunswick Professional Outfitters and Guides Association.

“We have been put on — I don’t know how you say [it] — the backburner.”

Although the federal government has promised it’s not going after hunting rifles or shotguns, Clark and others say they fear that any further restrictions on semi-automatic weapons will have American hunters, or other tourists who typically bring their own firearms here, reconsidering their trips.

According to the province’s executive council office, 3,600 non-resident hunters came to New Brunswick in 2019.

Bear hunting licences alone brought in more than $300,000 in sales before taxes, with 1,870 of them purchased for $160 a pop.

Now, after the industry saw a “very drastic decline” during the pandemic, Clark said the federal government’s Bill C-21 and its controversial amendment that would ban many hunting rifles and shotguns has put it under fire once again.

“I would say … that probably 75 per cent of our membership relies on bringing in non-residents,” he said.

And we know that the proposed measure would also ban a lot of semi-automatic hunting weapons.

Now, those guns aren’t banned in the United States, which means for many, that’s what they have to hunt with. They’re not likely to spend the money to travel up to Canada to go hunting–not a particularly cheap undertaking in and of itself–then have to turn around and buy another gun just for that hunting trip.

It’s not going to happen.

That means many Americans will look to hunt much closer to home. Sure, they may want to travel for a hunting excursion, but they can look stateside for opportunities where they won’t have to worry about whether their hunting rifle will land them in a Canadian prison.

Granted, I don’t imagine Canadian prison is the most awful kind of prison out there, but it’s still prison.

Regardless, no one wants to risk it, so rather than Canada, they might look at Alaska or Montana or literally anywhere else on the planet. Most other countries don’t have the same hangups about semi-automatic firearms that Canada has.

Further, a lot of hunters are at least generally supportive of the Second Amendment. Yeah, Fudds exist, of course, but they’re far from the majority of hunters.

So if Canada does pass their gun laws, they’re going to lose a lot of money. Frankly, if they’re dumb enough to pass this measure, they deserve what comes next and I hope they get it good and hard.