New Gun Regulations in the Fraser Valley Don’t Go Far Enough
Opinions / June 5, 2017
Legislation targeting recreational shooters is a start, but hunters should also face greater restriction
Stephanie Davies, Contributor
The Fraser Valley region is home to a great number of rural areas, but its wild and free nature has been greatly abused by certain residents. It’s become a popular spot for gun owners to use as a recreational shooting range, and there have been several cases of recklessness documented in recent years.
In response to an increase in potentially dangerous gun use, B.C. has initiated new gun regulations in the Fraser Valley. While these regulations are moving in the right direction, the province still has a long way to go in terms of dealing with risks to the environment and public safety. The government needs to look at enforcing new regulations in other areas, so that little room is left for potential abuse.
The new regulations will see the creation of “no shooting zones” within 400 metres of popular forest service roads in the Fraser Valley, largely meaning they’ll be enforced around backcountry areas near Chilliwack, Mission, Hope, and Kent. These zones are set close enough to the municipalities so that the regulations are relevant to those who live or visit there, but are still far enough away to have an impact on the environment of the rural areas.
The fine for recreational shooters failing to obey these new regulations is $50,000 and a six-month jail sentence for a first time offence. The fine can be as high as $100,000 and a year-long jail sentence for those with more than one strike on their record. The province has made it clear that these new regulations are meant for recreational shooters only—licensed hunters and First Nations are exempt.
This seems fair, as First Nations’ traditional rights won’t be affected and licensed hunters can carry on in accordance with the regulations. However, one of the major concerns that led to the proposal of the new regulations was damage to the environment. This makes me question whether there should also be more restrictions put on licensed hunters.
Out of concern for the environment, shouldn’t there be more “no hunting zones”? Because the focus for the new regulations is recreational shooters, half of the problem—the damage to wildlife—is still left open.
B.C. and Alberta are the only two provinces that have no provincial endangered species law. Even though B.C. is the country’s most biologically diverse province, there is no specific law in place to protect its diversity. There are provincial and federal laws in place to govern how habitats are being managed, but there is no stand-alone legislation in B.C. directly connected to endangered species and at-risk ecosystems, which are plenty.
While public safety is always the first thing that’s brought up when discussing gun regulations, remember that it’s only half of the equation.