Buy a gun now like a ‘fridge’

The new business practice, available now at Wanstalls in downtown Maple Ridge, came into effect this month. - Contributed
The new business practice, available now at Wanstalls in downtown Maple Ridge, came into effect this month.
— image credit: Contributed

A Maple Ridge gun shop claims to be the first in Canada to offer selling firearms on yearly financial terms.

“Take your dream gun home today and pay it off in six or 12 months,” is the advertisement from Wanstalls, noting that a Core 15 assault rifle can be had for $118 per month.

Matthew Mendel, a spokesman for the store on the Lougheed Highway in downtown Maple Ridge, said gun stores have offered layaway plans for a long time. However, customers might have had to wait months before they got use of their new rifle or pistol.

With financing, they can take their gun home as their pay it off.

Mendel said there has never been a law or prohibition against financing firearms, but historically lenders have been leery of financing purchases that are pleasure or hobby related.

“Toys,” he calls them.

“It wasn’t an easy process to set this up.”

The new business practice just came into effect in February. Mendel has not heard complaints from gun control advocates, and said he doesn’t expect to. He said shooting has become a more mainstream sport, with hunters and target shooters coming from all corners of society.

The stats back him up.

According to the Canadian Firearms Program, there are 1.8 million valid firearms licences in Canada, and 7.5 million registered firearms.

“A lot of the stereotypes that surround gun owners in the past have changed,” said Mendel. “It has become a lot more mainstream.”

Mendel credits three of the best target ranges in the province, which can be found in Pitt Meadows, Mission and Port Coquitlam, for leading that change.

He added that the financing option, just weeks old, has been popular with buyers so far.

The Canadian Coalition for Gun Control declined to offer any comment about buying firearms on financing terms. That organization was founded after the Montreal Massacre, in which Marc Lepine went to L’ecole Polytechnique and shot 28 people, killing 14, before committing suicide. It often comments on gun control issues, most notably the government decision to dismantle Canada’s long gun registry.

Gary Mauser, a professor emeritus from SFU who has spent decades studying firearms regulation, safety and other issues, and who has been published in criminological journals for 25 years, has no issue with the financing change.

“You can buy a refrigerator or a car like that, so why not a gun,” he asks.

“Theoretically, there has been an argument that accessibility is linked to misuse. But there has been no empirical evidence.”

He said if someone is planning to commit a murder, there are “six different ways” to do it.

He said gun crime is generally not the domain of ordinary, law-abiding citizens.

“Most murders are criminals killing criminals – and that’s guns,” he said, “Seventy-five to 80 per cent of criminals and their victims have a long history of past misdeeds.”

He said Wanstalls deals in registered firearms, sold to people who have obtained the proper licences.

“I wouldn’t think there’ll be a problem,” Mauser said, noting it is not much different that purchasing a gun with a credit card.

The store will only finance a purchase of at least $300. The cheapest gun the store carries is a Norinco 1911, which is a .45 calibre handgun that can be had for $370, including a box of ammunition.

But buyers can spend much more – the price tag on an Ashbury Precision Rifle is $8,600 before any optics or accessories.

The interest rates on financing are 4.9 per cent for six months or 14 per cent for 12 months, through Tactical Capital of Vancouver.

Wanstalls announced its offer on the website, and it had an interesting thread of comments:

“Taking on loans on guns, Wowza,”

“ … I’ll be broke forever now,”

“My wife will hate you guys for this,”

and, “This should be a breakthrough in the business… congrats on your initiative.”

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