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With the release of the full list of essential services, there’s been some confusion as to whether or not gun shops will be permitted to remain open in Ontario, or to what degree they may remain operational.

Some of this confusion can be traced back to the list of essential services provided by the Ontario provincial government, where under the heading “Agriculture and food production,” the following can be found:

“Businesses that farm, harvest, process, manufacture, produce or distribute food, including beverages, crops, animal products and by-products, aquaculture, hunting and fishing.”

This clause protects hunting and fishing operations, and does not include gun shops, as it specifically pertains to businesses that farm, harvest, process, manufacture, produce or distribute food.” The inclusion of hunting and fishing is secondary to that clause, and thus refers to hunting and fishing operations that harvest wildlife for consumption.

However, the List of Essential Services also protects supply chains, stipulating that “businesses that supply other essential businesses or essential services with the support, supplies, systems or services, including processing, packaging, distribution, delivery and maintenance necessary to operate” are considered essential as well. And obviously, under this clause, gun shops are protected as suppliers of items required by hunting operations. Furthermore, various gun shops retail safety supplies, such as steel-toed boots, and various articles of protective clothing, making them expressly protected as essential services. Finally, all stores operating as mail-order, or e-commerce are exempted from the closure order entirely.

Suffice to say, the ordered closure of non-essential services and stores around Ontario do not include gun shops, and as Ontario has been the first province to institute such an order it’s highly likely that any provinces issuing similar orders will lean upon Ontario’s list of essential services to inform their own… meaning it’s most likely gun stores across Canada will not be forced to close.

That said, many have reduced their hours, are limiting access to their brick and mortar storefronts, or are operating as strictly mail-order and online stores during this time to keep themselves, their staff, and the public as isolated as possible. Additionally, various parcel carriers are also seeing reduced labour force levels and a dramatic increases in shipping volumes, so expect shipping times to increase. Finally, Chief Firearms Officers and the Canadian Firearms Centre are operating at reduced staffing levels meaning service levels are dramatically reduced. As a result, handgun and AR-15 sales may be significantly delayed.

Please be patient, and during this time, consider supporting your local independent gun shop rather than the big box retailers. Small businesses are less well equipped to handle these crisis’, and the local family owned shops are the driving force behind much of the gun industry in Canada.

And of course, now more than ever, be kind to one another.