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Kamloops firearms bylaw change mean farmers within city limits can use weapons on their land

Bylaw changes will also allow speedball weapons to be used in the city during competition
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Bylaw changes in Kamloops will allow discharge of speedball guns, firearm blanks for film and television and use of weapons by farmers within city limits. In addition, anyone who illegally discharges a firearm will be subject to steeper fines.

The changes follow a request from the Kamloops Speedball Association to update the city’s firearms and other weapons control bylaw.

The association is proposing an artificial turf speedball field be added to the Tournament Capital Ranch in Rayleigh. However, the city’s current rules prohibit all but essentially police officers and those who own large ranches and farms to discharge a firearm or weapon inside city limits.

Speedball is similar to paintball, but it is played on what appears to be a soccer or rugby field with air bunkers and nets. The sport utilizes electronic guns that shoot 10.5 balls per second. The association is hoping to be the first municipality in the country to back a competitive facility.

The city’s current bylaw, however, does not allow guns used in the sport to be discharged within city limits. The city said its parks and engagement group has “no significant concerns” with allowing the activity to occur in Kamloops. The association’s request also prompted a look at the entire bylaw, which had not been updated since the 1980s.

City of Kamloops community services manager Tammy Blundell explained to council on Tuesday (June 28) the additional changes proposed as a result of that review, including increased fines to deter illegal discharging of firearms. Previously, the fine was $300. The new fines will range from $500 to $10,000.

In addition, farmers will be exempt from the general prohibitions as the city does not apparently have jurisdiction over the issue due to the Right to Farm Act.

Also to be exempt in the bylaw:

• contractors providing the city with animal or pest control;

• people authorized by the Kamloops Airport manager to destroy animals or birds that may be a hazard to aviation;

• students and instructors of School District 73 during school hours while being trained in the use of a longbow under supervision;

• peace officers and constables, including conservation officers, fisheries, etc.;

• and people holding a valid permit.

Permits will be issued by director of community protective services Byron McCorkell or another designate and can be approved for:

• civilian or military groups on Canada Day, Remembrance Day, military pageants, funerals, exercises, etc.;

• firearm blanks for authorized movie or television film activities;

• exploding projectile animal deterrents;

• archery competition, paintball guns for use at a facility or an outdoor speedball game.

Firearm registration and criminal record checks will be required and previous weapons usage will be considered.

Those who receive a permit will not be allowed to discharge a firearm near a highway or school, park, church, business or otherwise, unless specifically authorized by the permit.

Council read the bylaw for the first three times on Tuesday. It will go to a future council meeting for adoption.