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‘Never seen this kind of rush:’ Chaos ensues at Lethbridge gun stores following handgun ban

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LETHBRIDGE, Alta. -

The federal government’s announcement of its intent to freeze sales and imports of handguns in Canada came as a surprise to Lethbridge gun store owners, including Ted Feller, the owner of Marksman Gun and Sports.

Within minutes of that announcement, customers started calling his shop, and handgun sales have shot up ever since.

“(We sold) more than half a dozen handguns in the first two hours of the business day today, and we've got three more on hold for people that are coming in,” said Feller.

“We’ve never seen this kind of rush on restricted fire arms in the last 40 years.”

There are 2,500 stores in Canada that sell handguns. Feller expects to move a lot of handguns over the next few days, but fears the business will dry up after that because of the new legislation.

“As early as a week or 10 days from now, they're all going to be put on hold,” said Feller.

“There’s going to be no selling, no trading, no buying, no turning them back, so it’s going to create a problem after this initial day rush.”

The same can be said for another gun shop in Lethbridge. Although the owner declined to comment, the moment the doors opened at Section 8 Sports customers were lined up from the front desk to the door to purchase a handgun legally for the last time. 

The announcement comes in the wake of two recent mass shootings south of the border. On May 24, a gunman who had just turned 18 walked into an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas and opened fire killing 19 children and two teachers. Prior to that on May 14, 10 people were gunned down in what officials are calling a racially-motivated attack in a supermarket in Buffalo, New York.

FREEZE HURTS ALBERTANS: CHIEF FIREARMS OFFICER

However, Alberta’s chief firearms officer said the national handgun freeze in Canada will only hurt law abiding gun owners who use and collect the firearms.

“On top of the regular possession and acquisition license, you need to do additional training in order to obtain a restricted possession and acquisition license,” said Teri Bryant. 

“We already have laws that I think were very strict.”

The announcement comes in the wake of two recent mass shootings south of the border. On May 24, a gunman who had just turned 18 walked into an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas and opened fire killing 19 children and two teachers. Prior to that on May 14, 10 people were gunned down in what officials are calling a racially-motivated attack in a supermarket in Buffalo, New York.

Prime Minister Trudeau has been adamant about ending gun violence since his 2019 election campaign. He said he  feels this is a big step in the right direction for the country.

“Gun violence is a complex problem, but at the end of the day the math is really quite simple: The fewer the guns in our communities, the safer everyone will be,” the Prime Minister said.

About 55,000 new handguns are imported into Canada each year. The federal government believes this new law will keep them from getting into the wrong hands.

In the last 11 years, Stats Canada said firearm related homicides have risen 37 per cent, and handguns were the most commonly used weapon in those crimes.

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