Close to 3,000 people took part in the annual Brandon Wildlife Association’s Gun and Collectibles Show held in the Manitoba Room of the Keystone Centre this weekend.
"It’s a great draw for the local community," Brandon Wildlife Association president Don Teale said. "It gives people access to a wider variety of hunting, sports stuff and antiques."
This marks the first year of the show since the federal government voted to abolish the long-gun registry, something Teale said he supported.
"The registry doesn’t mean anything in regards to safety to the public, because everybody must have a firearms licence to purchase, have a firearm or it’s ammunition and therefore other than registering the serial number with the government it doesn’t mean anything," Teale said.
While restricted and prohibited guns, such as hand guns, continue to be registered with the government, Teale said when it comes to long guns, such as shotguns and rifles, a firearms licence is adequate to police ownership.
"The hunting, shooting and trapping community is not the problem," Teale said. "The government says you can have the gun because you have the licence. Rifles and shotguns pose no threat to anyone, it’s the person behind it."
In order to purchase a long gun, one must show a valid Firearm Acquisition Certificate (FAC) and a bill of sale must be drawn up between the two parties.
But some question whether a process that essentially relies on the goodwill of the two parties — the buyer and the seller — to do legally is enough to purchase a gun.
"The biggest thing we have to do is put the teeth into the licencing," Teale said, adding that gun owners who don’t abide by the rules should have their licences revoked.
Leonard Stumpf, owner of the Gun Nut, came from Morse, Sask., to showcase and sell his guns at the show.
"As long as they have a card, it is nobody’s business but the buyer and the seller," Stumpf said. "That’s since they removed the long-gun registration."
As one of about 160 vendors, Stumpf had dozens of long guns at his table, about another dozen restricted hand guns and one prohibited weapon.
"You have to be grandfathered-in to own one and to buy or sell one of the prohibited (guns)," Stumpf said.
Another gun enthusiast, who wished to remain anonymous, said he owns guns that were previously registered, but since he let his hunter’s safety and FAC lapse they are now illegal.
"Right now I’m sitting on four illegal hand guns that were legal, but (the government) can’t find them in their system," he said.
He’s afraid that because the government can’t find the previously registered guns that they will be taken if he tries to register the guns now.
"I got pissed off and told them if they couldn’t get organized that I wanted nothing to do with them," he said.