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Norfolk man cautions farmers about implications of gun legislation

A Norfolk farmer who is the head of Canada’s National Firearms Association (NFA) is cautioning farmers about the implications of pending federal firearms legislation.

Rick Igercich, who lives on the family farm on Highway 3 between Delhi and Courtland, learned about firearms the same way as a lot of Norfolk County residents – shooting on the farm. He was just six the first time he shot a .22 rifle with his father. He started hunting when he was 15, was on the Delhi District Secondary School trap shooting team at 16 and started handgun shooting when he was 18.

The Igercich farm has been in the family since 1939. His grandfather started farming on the property and his parents Joe and Mary were next in line. Rick’s father Joe was a member of the Delhi Revolver Club and planted a seed with Rick his father never imagined would grow in such a way.

Rick started growing tobacco in 1981 after his father passed away. He grew until 1999, then starting Ghostrider Performance on the farm where he repairs and services snowmobiles, ATVs, motorcycles and watercraft.

“When I decided to get out of the tobacco business was before the buyout so we sold our quota and started renting the land for ginseng shortly after,” he said. The land is now rented out for cash crops.

As his interest in competitive shooting grew, Rick joined Otter Valley Rod and Gun Club near Straffordville 46 years ago. He joined the NFA in 2009, then became a director for Ontario in 2017.

“I wanted to be involved as more than just a shooter,” he said. “I wanted to help promote firearms ownership and protect firearms ownership in Canada.”

In January 2022, Rick became the interim vice-president of the NFA. Then, at the annual general meeting in May of that year, he was elected president.

“A position came open and I thought I could do more at a national level than just in Ontario,” Rick said. “I thought I could do a better job at getting the word out about the threats facing firearms ownership.”

One of his concerns is many average gun owners don’t take the threat to their gun ownership seriously, believing the issue is more about handguns and semi-automatic centrefire rifles only.

Rick differs, providing an example that hit home. A deer hunter in the controlled deer hunt in Norfolk County, he shoots a Benelli M4 semi-automatic shotgun. There are several versions of the M4 on the latest list released by the federal government as potential guns that are proposed to be banned as of the time of writing. Rick says when individual models of firearms plus variants become banned it’s a slippery slope that can end up in confusion for gun owners and law enforcement.

“They are currently going after hunting shotguns and rifles so what’s next,” he asks.

Another example he provided was the Ruger Mini 14 Ranch Rifle. This .223 semi-automatic was a favourite for western Canadian farmers to use for predator control, but now is on the list.

One of the problems with the situation is with thousands of guns suddenly banned, a Canadian can become a criminal overnight without their knowledge.

“I find that deplorable,” he said.

The proposed list is 309 pages long and includes semi-automatic hunting guns like the Browning BAR and Benelli M1. There are also bolt action rifles, rimfire rifles and double barrel shotguns.

Rick is concerned people’s family heirlooms and hunting firearms will be banned.

“It’s a farmer’s personal property he bought and paid taxes on” he said. “Firearms owners should be concerned about the government coming for their personal property without them being a threat to anyone.”

How the government is going to confiscate the collection of tens of thousands of guns is still unknown. There were suggestions that police would be involved, but the provincial governments of Alberta, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick, plus the Yukon, have said they don’t want any provincial resources used for the confiscation. One of the concerns is this will take police off the streets.

Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Bobbi Ann Brady has called for Ontario to join with the western provinces in not allowing provincial policing resources to be used for the seizure of personal property. This is a move Igercich entirely supports.

Since the list was released, Rick has received many e-mails and calls from farmers concerned about their firearms.

“Farmers have a problem with the OPP or RCMP coming on their farms to seize their personal property,” he said. “This the property they use to protect their livestock. It just doesn’t sit well with people.”

Farmers already have many concerns with government overreach, Rick said.

“For farmers that grow our food and add to our economy, this is just another blow from the government,” Igercich said.

Rick is encouraging firearms owners to be vigilant of the ongoing onslaught against firearms owners. One way of doing this is joining one of the firearms rights groups, like NFA. 

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