In a sudden \'reclassification\' by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, two models of modern semi-automatic sporting rifles have now become banned in the Great White North. These include the humble CZ-858 rifle.
What is the CZ-858?
Based on the classic Cold War era vz.58 rifle, the CZ-858 was built in recent years from the ground up as a sporting rifle. Although based on a select-fire military rifle and using many surplus military parts left over from Cold War production, the 858 is and always has been semi-auto only.
Some 37.39-inches overall with a 19.4-inch barrel (plus flash hider), the 6.4-pound rifle is great for plinking; varmint hunting at close ranges, and home defense if needed. They were improted by Wolverine and other wholesalers who sold them for around $700.
Why is it now banned?
On March 1, 2014, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canada\'s national police force, summarily announced that eight versions of the Swiss Arms (SIG Sauer) Classic Green carbine and three variants of the CZ-858 (2-P, 2-V, and 4-P, proofed 2007 and later) were reclassified as \"prohibited firearms.\" This amounted to some 9,394 CZ-858s and 1,800 Swiss Arms carbines all told.
This made the 11,000-ish owners of these guns (Canada has been experimenting with gun registration for years so it is known just who they are) instant criminals. The only option open for these gun owners, who bought these guns legally, is to surrender them to the RCMP without compensation.
To refuse and be found with one of these now-forbidden guns would mean as much as three years in prison.
By most accounts this reclassification came simply due to the fact that the guns seemed to \'look scary\' in other words, they had cosmetic features (folding stocks, pistol grips, flash hiders, etc.) that made them a target. Of course, the RCMP stated that the \"CZ858 firearm can be converted to a full automatic firearm in a relatively short period of time with relative ease.\"
As far back as last summer, there was a push for the RCMP to declare the CZ858 as a prohibited weapon with one report saying, \"A case could be made that they should be classified as prohibited.\"
The gun gained the ire of the media after a legally owned model was used in a fatal shooting at the Parti Qubcois victory party on Sept. 4, 2012.
One out of 9800 used in a crime, meaning that the other 99.98 percent of these guns not used in crimes are surely \'evil.\'
What can be done?
Canada\'s National Firearms Association is fighting the reclassification, saying that,
\"The RCMP are no longer a law enforcement agency. They are now an unelected, unaccountable political entity enforcing an agenda of civil disarmament without concern for or interference from the Government of Canada, elected by Canadians.\"
After much letter writing, emails, phone calls, and grass roots efforts by gun groups in Canada, Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney announced on March 14 that owners of these now forbidden sporting rifles have a two year amnesty period that they can still enjoy their gun.
In the meantime, the government is going to figure out what to do in 2016 when that period runs out.
This is a lesson to CZ lovers in all countries, not just Canada. Be active in your local political process and speak up for your rights.
Or one day all you could have of your gun is a photograph and a receipt from your friend national police force.