.. it is a canada wide change in the direction of enforcment with respect to replica firearms.
Yes so far, as it pertains to retailers. A troubling development no less, but there isn't evidence to suggest individual players are at risk... yet...
From my understanding this is about importing and reselling outside the terms of the import licenses that they may or may not have had. Whether this means a crack down on airsoft in general or just as it relates to players remains to be seen. There has been no formal warning of a crackdown of any kind but ASCA is doing the prudent thing and ceasing sales of airsoft guns. Incidently the bust at Pac Mall was just coincidence - ASCA had made that decision prior to that bust, it was just a sort of 'icing on the cake/last straw' thing.
After speaking with Hojo today, what is clear to me is that the current set of laws as they stand don't support the sale of airsoft in Canada. As far as ownership goes, there hasn't been a case on record that we know of where someone was charged without first having done something to warrant it (as an individual) and that the law has been in place for the last 9 years to do so. The December 1, 1998 grandfather date was put in place with the import controls in the hopes that the supply would choke off and that there would be no need to pursue individuals owning guns. Those publically transacting with AEGs after December 1998, specifically those SELLING them are putting themselves at risk, and those violating the terms of their import licenses are for all intents and purposes are breaking the law. As for the buyer, it is a lot less clear. An airsoft gun is only a "replica" if the law deems it as such and that designation is debatable and has yet to be directly tested in a court as it pertains to an individual player. The way the laws are written makes it simply unclear, which is why I think the retailers are the easiest targets to go after.
For those arguing the whole in-out of the closet on airsoft, it is my feeling that its time to pursue the acknowledged and legal ownership of replicas, because as it stands, it looks like airsoft is slowly becoming recognized as 'replica' in the eyes of the law.
The only risk in doing this is that if it goes against us, they could write laws that do the opposite and make us all criminals overnight. The firearms community has experienced this first hand, so don't dismiss it as unlikely.
I'm not exactly sure where to take it from here. Events that have taken place yesterday and in the past months were put in motion long before they happened, so there is a plan being executed against retailers of airsoft guns, there is no doubt. But it is still unclear where that leaves the community of hobbists that we are and whether they will ultimately pursue us individually. In speaking to some LE, there are no new orders at the street level regarding them. I suspect if there is a move afoot to come after individuals, we will see a change in how the individual officer is told how to handle airsoft gun encounters or whether to actively pursue them.
There are LE on this board and I am sure LE who play airsoft reading this. Keep your ears to the ground and if you see a change in the wind, let your friends know before something comes down the pipe. As much as I love airsoft, if I have to throw my AEG receiver into the woodchipper, I will.
Hojo seems to feel the PAL option and having a provision for replicas may be viable. I understand Greylocks has done some research and has found a sympathetic ear in the right place that might help with that - I dunno, he can address that. And that begets another thought I had - custom receivers that don't resemble real world gun receivers but that still look militaristic - is this a viable option?