Overview - June 2013
As you may now be aware the RCMP have begun reviewing the status of the Swiss Arms (SAN) family of rifles. The review is technical in nature and based on whether the rifles sold in Canada over the past 12 years are a separate design or whether they are actually variants of the prohibited SG550 rifle.
This whole story needs to be put into context to make sense. Back in 2000/2001 James B. (the author) was involved in The Shooting Edge (TSE). As such I know a little bit about the back story on how these rifles were introduced into Canada. At the time JR (President of TSE) met with and discussed the project personally with SAN. He also spoke directly to the RCMP forensics folks. I was not privy to the specifics of these discussions but I know that the general gist was to market the Blue Star rifle in Canada by building the case that it derived from the SG540 which was not prohibited by name. The actual changes made to the platform are pretty much proprietary and closely held by SAN (and presumably TSE). It is worth noting that the rifles were never physically inspected at the time and the FRT was issued purely based on discussions with SAN and JR. Over the years additional FRT’s have been added by stating that the Classic Green, Black Special etc were variants of the original Blue Star.
- 2001 – 2008: The distributor for SAN from 2001 until 2008 was The Shooting Edge
- 2008 – 2013: The distributor was FN Sports
- 2013 – Present: Throughout the first part of 2013 the distributor has been MD Charlton
During the first quarter of 2013 the RCMP had been asked by JR Cox to determine whether a Swiss Arms rifle ( serial number ESF9116) was a “real” Classic Green rifle. This of course forced them to look into what makes a Classic Green rifle different from an SG550. They are currently trying to make that determination. To do so they have compared ESF9116 to a “real” Classic Green rifle, and I would assume to both a real SG550 and a real SG540 (which I personally know to be in their possession right now).
The last word I had received from the forensics people was an email which concluded that in their opinion the Classic Green rifle is indeed an SG550 or a variant of it, and they are currently looking for proof from the factory that would disprove this conclusion.
The Story of ESF 9116
During the past several years, production of new SAN rifles was rather slow and the Canadian distributor was not particularly good at keeping stock available for dealers. As a result, months and months would go by without rifles for sale. Seeing this situation, CSC arranged to have used rifles rebuilt to the exact standards of the Canadian specific Classic Green rifle. This work was done by SAN. Candidate rifles were carefully selected, parts were replaced or refinished as appropriate and the rifles were imported into Canada. It must be stressed that the imported rifles were certified by SAN to be identical in all respects to the rifles imported by the Canadian distributors since 2001, based on the standards put in place by JR Cox at that time. One such shipment contained a rifle serial number ESF9116. This rifle was sold to one of our customers 8 Dec 12, several weeks later he traded this rifle in to TSE
On 28 March 13, the directors of CSC were interviewed by NWEST who were investigating a complaint that had been lodged by an individual. The individual had made allegations that a rifle sold by CSC was in fact a converted automatic prohibited firearm and that CSC had been trafficking in these firearms. A picture of a firearm was produced, it was a Classic Green rifle serial number ESF9116. CSC told NWEST that all rifles that they had imported from Switzerland had been carefully selected and inspected and refurbished to meet the exact standards of those Classic Green rifles that had been sold for the past decade or so. It was agreed that CSC would provide a letter to this effect sent by SAN to verify these details. This letter was sent to CSC on 18 April 13.
Furthermore in an attempt to have JR retract his complaint before it forced the RCMP to open an investigation into the SAN rifles CSC forwarded this email to JR Cox:
Ultimately on 24 May 13, CSC received an email from the RCMP forensics office stating that rifle ESF9116 had been inspected and found to have been a semi automatic rifle. Unfortunately two other Classic Green rifles that had been provided as control items had been determined to have been Converted Automatics. One ESF74361 had been imported in 2012 by FN Sports, and the other ESF73096 had been imported by TSE some time before 2008. This raised the issue of whether all “real” Classic Green rifles were converted automatics. Furthermore due to the additional accusation of ESF9116 being a “spurious” copy of the Classic Green rifle, the RCMP had been forced to investigate the entire SAN line to determine what if any differences exist between the Classic Green, Black Special, Blue Star etc series of rifles and the SG550 rifles which are named as prohibited. This investigation is currently ongoing, however the RCMP have reached a tentative conclusion that there is no appreciable difference between the SAN rifles and the SG550, and are currently waiting for factory information that will disprove this conclusion.
The Allegations as presented by JR and TSE:
We hate to have to post this but unfortunately it has already been made public on several of the gun boards - CanadianGunNutz and Gun Owners of Canada. The allegations contained in this post are false and those that are not already proven false by the documents included in this page (in particular the letter from SAN), will be proven false once the RCMP have completed their investigation. We consider any allegation that our rifles were counterfeit to be spurious and defamatory.
To be clear, CSC has never imported ex military rifles.
All of our imports were (as stated by SAN) identical mechanically to the rifles that had been imported by TSE in the past, military receivers were produced for fully automatic guns and are different. The RCMP have already verified that the gun in question (ESF9116) was a purpose built semi automatic rifle.
We have included a picture of a gun imported by TSE to compare to the picture of the alleged “spurious” or “obvious counterfeit” copy. You can see that the allegations of incorrect and missing markings are patently false. Furthermore if, as alleged, the serial numbers were being changed, and a 4 digit serial number was incorrect, why would SAN have not simply added another digit? The answer of course is that SAN does not change serial numbers and a 4 digit serial number simply shows that the gun was produced earlier than guns with 5 digit serial numbers.
ESF73096 one of the control rifles submitted for inspection — this gun was imported by TSE prior to 2008.
ESF74361 the other control rifle was imported by FN Sports in 2012 — it was subsequently sold to TSE.
This picture of a Classic Green receiver that is clearly marked as having been imported by TSE would have failed the criteria listed in JR’s post. Note the lack of manufacturer and commercial markings and the spacing in the serial number. Font size, style and spacing all the same. Our gun did not include the TSE logo but then again no gun imported since 2008 has either.
It is quite apparent that SAN has changed the style of the engraving over time and has been fairly haphazard with what information they include.
In conclusion it is very apparent that the above allegations make no sense because SAN, the manufacturer of the guns, states quite clearly in their letter that they are identical mechanically. Would not the manufacturer of the guns be the final arbitrator as to whether or not a particular gun was a counterfeit? How is it therefore still possible for JR to claim that one is a “spurious” copy of the other? Perhaps more importantly, why was such a claim made?
Update – 16 July
Although the RCMP had asked for all submissions to be returned no later than 30 June, this was extended and the following was posted by JR on Canadian Gun Nutz on 16 July.
“I have just finished a 38 page report for the RCMP on this matter. This was prepared with the help of the factory, the SIG museum curators and MD Charlton.
While this report is not being published publicly, I have had it peer reviewed. It clearly shows lineage of all of the proper officially manufactured and imported rifles.
It is unclear what “peer reviewed” means in this context, but apparently the final submission has been received by the RCMP and we await their final decision.
Update – 1 Feb 14
This article was recently published in the National Post. Once again we are forced to defend ourselves against accusations that our rifles were “counterfeit”, “bogus” and “illegal”. Mr Cox’s remarks are again inaccurate, malicious and defamatory and could very well jeopardize Canadians’ chances of owning these rifles.
Interestingly, Mr Cox is now no longer suggesting that our rifle was an ex military rifle, and in fact seems to concede that it may be mechanically identical to his rifles. His current story seems to be that our rifle should be prohibited because of its “lineage”even though it is or could be identical to those imported by him.
“Cox said it didn’t matter what the specifications were. At their core, they were still variants of the SG550s. It’s the lineage that counts — “a pig is still a pig.””
So now even after SAN has confirmed that our rifles were identical to his, Mr Cox is maintaining that they are different because of their “lineage” but not their actual physical characteristics. Even though every part interchanges between our two respective rifles, and every part and dimension is exactly the same, his guns are ok and ours are “bogus” and should be prohibited. It is not hard to imagine where this argument will lead and gun owners should probably prepare for the worst.
Given some of the negative comments that have been made about our company I feel it is necessary to address some of the issues here:
We did not simply buy some prohibited rifles and pass them off as non restricted rifles. The donor rifles were selected and sent to SAN (the original manufacturer of all the products) for refurbishment to meet Canadian standards. Since the exact alterations were proprietary, we asked only for the required work to be done and paid a substantial amount to have it done. Factory refurbishment programs can and sometimes does involve the replacement of receivers.
Mr Cox has brought up a lineage argument but has never once specified what changes are required to make a PE90 rifle Canadian compliant. Furthermore at no time has anyone (SAN included) offered a definitive means to determine lineage other than by accepting the word of SAN. We have a letter from SAN which appears to do just that for our rifles. It is also possible that Canadian compliant receivers are in circulation in Switzerland sold off as overstock over the years. Thus it is even (remotely) possible our donor rifles were originally built on the correct “lineage” receivers to begin with but Mr Cox would like people to believe that only he can determine the real from the fake.
The very real possibility still exists however that regardless of lineage, all of the rifles may still be identical to one another and identical to a prohibited variant. This has come as something of a surprise to us, but apparently Mr Cox has known this all along and has relied on the lineage argument to ignore it. This is troubling. For example if I take a Mosin Nagant rifle and rework it so that it is a semi automatic rifle that uses the same mechanism as an AK47, and interchanges all parts with an AK47, it does not remain a Mosin Nagant rifle. Alternatively, one could imagine the factory developing the SG550 rifle, and then a parallel department taking a SG540 and improving it to the point where it coincidentally is identical to the SG550 rifle. One would have to suspend belief that the design was independent and separate especially when dealing within the same factory. In any event we are supposed to believe that these identical but different production streams were devoid of any specific markings to determine the correct lineage of the rifle in question, SAN can be mistaken in it’s determinations, and Mr Cox is always correct.
Things do not look good!
Update 27 Feb 2014
The RCMP have just amended the FRT and listed all Swiss Arms rifles as variants of the SG550 and therefore prohibited.
In summary it appears as though the RCMP have finally decided that the PE90 is a variant of the SG550 and therefore prohibited. It is important to note that there were no differences between the PE90 Classic Green rifles sold by The Shooting Edge and those sold by Calgary Shooting Centre. The entire issue that has been presented by JR Cox that somehow our rifles were “counterfeit” or “bogus” has been proven to be incorrect. Unfortunately the RCMP have only just changed the FRT, owners of these rifles are now effectively in limbo concerning what their next action should be. Will compensation be paid? What about an amnesty period?
All Canadian s need to contact their Members of Parliament and let them know that this type of arbitrary regulatory change is unjust and can seriously affect a normally law abiding citizen in the most dire ways.
Update 16 March 2014 – Amnesty
Government issues an amnesty for those possessing the newly prohibited firearms. Unfortunately there is still no detail on how this situation will play out.
Here is the latest update on the SAN saga. The redacted copies of the RCMP briefing notes provide an insight into the inner workings of Ottawa.
From our perspective it is very interesting that the briefing notes seem to be at odds with the comments JR initially made in the CGN posting below. It seems fairly apparent that he directly accused Calgary Shooting Centre of illegal activities.
Canadian Gun Nutz (dated: 2013-06-04)
The government has amended the amnesty to allow use of the recently prohibited firearms. Please contact your CFO to determine where your guns can be used and how they must be stored and transported.
See: FOI request.
The above documents were received as a result of a Freedom of Information request made to the RCMP. As a result third party names have been removed as have serial numbers. However because we have posted all of the other documentation above, it is easy to deduce what guns, and businesses are referred to.
Please note the following from the above:
The investigation was directed at CSC by JR Cox. He did in fact allege that CSC was illegally importing and selling guns. This contrary to what he posted on the TSE JR post on CGN and GOC in June 2013.
Furthermore the investigation was initiated with a complaint made 20 December 2012. This means it was initiated even before SAN was contacted and obviously well before they were able to respond to his queries. Reading the introductory paragraph of his posting makes it seem as though speaking to SAN in March 2013 is what confirmed his suspicions and was a result of his "due diligence" in this matter. The fact that he had initiated an investigation three months prior to this meeting speaks volumes about the amount of "due diligence" exercised.
Next, he made this claim that our rifle "was missing the internal parts added to retail/commercial rifles to further prevent C/A conversions". The above RCMP report provides comparative pictures of all receivers submitted. It is quite clear that our rifle did indeed have all parts and features expected of a commercial semi automatic rifle. Conversely one of the rifles provided by JR as a control sample had an auto sear slot cut in the right receiver rail. It is in fact this rifle that has caused the RCMP to be concerned whether Converted Automatic rifles were being imported. Note: our rifle was a standard semi automatic commercial variant. We have now disproved each of the points JR claimed showed our guns to be counterfeit or bogus in his post.
And finally, concerning his claim that lineage is a key factor, regardless of the fact that two guns may be identical otherwise, the RCMP have quite rightly disagreed. On page 45 of the report they states "it is the nature of the final product not the manufacturing process employed to create it" that matters. This is pretty much what we wrote above.
So it becomes more and more clear that this entire mess was little more than an attack on this company and its reputation.
Here is one more document that sheds a lot of light on the entire fiasco. This is the email that JR sent to SAN asking for information to verify if the rifle he had received was legitimate.
Note the second paragraph (see below):
So to clarify (as I know nobody wants to actually read all of the documents I have published) here is the timeline of the Swiss Arms rifle complaint.
- Rifle is purchased from CSC 8 December 2012
- JR refers complaint to RCMP 20 December 2012 (see FOI request page 21)
- RCMP forensics lab receives three rifles for examination from JR 5 Feb 2013 (Minister's briefing notes)
- IWA 2013 occurs 8-11 Mar 2013, JR attends and speaks to SAN
- JR sends an email to SAN asking if it is possible that the rifle he reported in December and sent to the RCMP in Feb MIGHT be a "fake". So, in spite of his uncertainty which is indicated in his email dated 25 March 2013, JR had already submitted a complaint in December and rifles for inspection in February. Furthermore the response from SAN is sent 18 April (posted here), indicating that the rifles are correct. In spite of all of this, JR has steadfastly and publicly insisted that he was right all along and that our guns were "spurious copies".
JR posts an apology video (since removed)
It seems that JR is at it again. As usual his comments on CanadianGunNutz and Gun Owners of Canada require interpretation to put them into context.
JR is claiming that he "acknowledged his role" in the Swiss Arms prohibition. We disagree. JR initially claimed it was not him that had initiated the investigation. He then claimed there was no allegation of illegal activity. As documents were revealed that demonstrated his stories to be incorrect, he eventually decided to grudgingly admit that he did in fact initiate the investigation, but he has steadfastly maintained that he did so because guns sold by this business were "obvious spurious copies" and that he was simply being a "good corporate citizen". This of course has been demonstrated to have been false. His motivation clearly was not based on good intentions or concern for the welfare of gun owners.
Furthermore, this company and its directors have never received an apology for the defamatory comments and accusations that were leveled by JR. In fact his latest comments seem to imply that we have "white washed" our role in the matter. This is of course absurd. We were accused of selling "counterfeit" guns and were investigated by the RCMP for illegal activities. We have been forced to defend ourselves publicly by collecting all pertinent documents and compiling them on this site because JR insists on spinning nonsensical tales about our involvement in imagined illegal activities. Documents posted above clearly show that both Swiss Arms and the RCMP disagreed with his characterizations. We urge anyone with questions about the Swiss Arms prohibition to read through this site. There is no deception at all here, every point we have made has been backed up by documentation. Something that JR has steadfastly refused to do.
As for JR's self aggrandizement, it is simply misdirection. Most dealers and gun owners have put time and money into supporting our sport. Most of us are contributors to the community. And of course most of us don't feel the need to constantly remind everyone of it either. We all owe a great debt to Tony Bernardo and the CSSA for their work in helping set things right with the current government. JR is not the one doing the work and he will not be responsible for any positive outcomes any more than the RCMP, Murray Smith or any of the antigun politicians that have made the firearms act the boondoggle that it is.
Sorry but it is our opinion that JR's mistake does indeed define him. He has done nothing to fix things with Calgary Shooting Centre. Rather he seems to delight in continuing to take cheap shots at us, forcing us to once again defend ourselves. Some philosophy!
Swiss Arms reverts back to its original status, see the bulletin from the Canada Gazette, and the updated FRT for the Swiss Arms Classic Green.
- Regulations Amending the Regulations Prescribing Certain Firearms and Other Weapons, Components and Parts of Weapons, Accessories, Cartridge Magazines, Ammunition and Projectiles as Prohibited or Restricted (Canada Gazette)
- Updated FRT for Swiss Arms Classic Green (screen shot)
SAN rifles to be prohibited again!
JR posts on CGN: See CGN posting here.
Well once again we are forced to defend ourselves from malicious and defamatory statements.
In JR's latest post he is once again whitewashing his behaviour at our expense. First of all, the nonsensical idea that someone walking into a gun store with a firearm that appeared to someone else to not be quite right, could result in a business closure is just too far fetched to believe. People walk into gunstores all the time with unregistered firearms, occasionally prohibited ones too. Unless they appear to be a danger to themselves or others, there is no need to involve the RCMP and report a crime, these types of things are easily within the purview of the business to deal with simply and legally. Furthermore in this particular case, JR knew the owner, and even took control of the firearm in question. So he could have investigated all by himself and without any particular haste. He could have spoken to us, he could have spoken to SAN, he could even have asked the CFC for assistance. What he chose to do was call the RCMP, suggest that this business was selling prohibited firearms, send the firearm in question and two other "control" samples to the RCMP forensics lab, and then months afterwards ask SAN about the rifle (see timelines below).
Secondly, JR implies that it was an RCMP investigation that determined the rifle he "discovered" turned out to be "repainted, re named, reserialized, and imported without the knowledge of the Swiss arms company". This is another attempt at deception. The RCMP determined the suspect rifle to be exactly the same as one of his control rifles, and that the other control rifle he provided was in fact a converted automatic rifle. SAN provided JR and ourselves with a letter stating that the rifle in question was refurbished by them to meet exactly the standards of a Classic Green rifle as set out by JR in 2001 (see SAN letter 18 Apr 2013 below). It was in fact JR that alleged that the rifle in question was "repainted, re named, reserialized, and imported without the knowledge of the Swiss arms company". The RCMP have never agreed with any of this, and in fact, they have never sought to separate our rifles from the others or treat them any differently. They were non nrestricted as Classic Green rifles, then prohibited with the others in 2014 and then they were non restricted again in 2015. If the rifles in question were truly "spurious copies", "prohibited weapons" or otherwise incorrect, the RCMP would have treated them as such. To be clear, the RCMP consider them to be Classic Green rifles. Unfortunately for JR, his investigation also caused them to determine that the Classic Green rifle is a PE90 and is also a variant of the SG550 and therefore prohibited.
Finally, JR claims that he is happy to shed light on this issue by using facts and where possible actual documentation. To date he has yet to produce a single document to support his argument. We suggest that anyone who is interested in JR's version of events demand documentary proof of his claims. Should you receive anything please forward it to us, we would be happy to post anything here that relates to this case. People deserve to know what happened.