“That’s crazy thinking that needs to be addressed,” Markling said. “People who take the time to learn about guns and work for firearms are not thinking about these things.”
The recent complaint had to do specifically with the fact there had been a recent school shooting in the United States. Noting how the incident happened in another country, Heith Olmstead also explained the guns used in the shooting, AR-15s, are not sold at his store and are prohibited in Canada.
“I’ve talked to both the RCMP and the City Police and not one firearm from this store has ever been used in a crime. Not one,” he said.
The store’s gun range is used as a training ground for local RCMP, City Police, and Correctional officers. Olmstead also pointed out that they assist police with forensic testing of firearms and he himself has helped offer expertise for cases.
“When you come in here and you don’t have a firearms license, we don’t sell you a gun. All I do is pick up the phone and report you to the police and tell them which direction you are going. We have zero interest in supporting the crime scene in this city,” he said.
The store is no stranger to helping causes and has in the past donated to the SPCA., Children’s Hav,en and the River Valley Resilience Retreat.
“The city has basically told us your money is no good,” noted Olmstead.
Noting her own children attend the nearby school and how she has been part of the school parent committee, as well as offered firearms education, Markling believes guns should not be treated as something mysterious and scary.
“It bothers me that people don’t want to have that conversation about firearms with kids. I think not teaching children about firearms is dangerous. I think kids should know you to have to be respectful about firearms and be responsible and there’s a time and a place for them.”
The couple noted they are one of several stores in this area that sell guns and ammunition, and that hunting represents a big business in the region and brings in millions of dollars. Noting her own business success and growth, Markling explained all they wanted was to give back to the community.
“Kid are owed that. Kids deserve a good happy childhood. I had that and I want kids to be involved in sports,” she said.
As of now, the couple has been told their sign will be addressed at a future city council. However, they also claim they have been told in advance their sign is not going back up.
Response from Mayor Greg Dionne
While acknowledging the city had received a complaint from a parent about the sign, Mayor Greg Dionne told paNOW the decision to take it down was solely based on the fact the owners and baseball association did not follow the proper process, adding no one can put up signs on city-owned property without permission from council.
“Before we even looked at the complaint, we looked up to make sure it was approved and it did not go through the council process,” he said
When asked why the couples’ sign was the only one that’s been taken down, Dionne explained it was the only sign, to his knowledge, that had not been approved by council. Dionne did, however, note last Thursday that city crews would be going out to the ball diamonds and re-checking all signage.
At this time, it’s unclear when the sign will be addressed by council.
Statement from Ward 6 Councillor
Upon request for comment, Blake Edwards prepared a statement for paNOW and confirmed one of the store’s owners had contacted him about the sign.
“I asked for patience so I could confirm the process of sponsorship signs and find out the reasons why the sign was removed. I also explained that some on council including myself had residents reach out with some concerns,” he said.
Edwards went on to explain that after a few days, he reached back out to Northern Elite Firearms and explained that the sponsorships from the ball field will go to council at an upcoming meeting.
“I listened to their explanation about their business and what they did which seemed very reasonable to me. I again asked for patience while this got sorted out but they have chosen a different direction which was completely up to them,” Edwards said. “I look forward to having an opportunity to discuss the sponsorship and others at an upcoming meeting in July.”
On Twitter: @nigelmaxwell