Alberta to Rebel Against Ottawa’s Proposed Assault-Type Gun Seizure

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“(It’s) an unreasonable assault on the lives of law-abiding gun owners…it’s politically motivated confiscation, pure and simple,” Shandro said.

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The Alberta government says it will work to disarm the federal government’s attempt to seize assault-type firearms and asks the RCMP to refuse to enforce it.

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On Monday, Justice Minister Tyler Shandro said the province doesn’t think the RCMP should confiscate about 30,000 firearms under legislation targeting weapons Ottawa considers assault weapons.

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The province will also seek intervenor status in six judicial reviews constitutionally challenging the federal government’s efforts to restrict the ownership of lawfully acquired firearms whose confiscation by buyout through its Bill C-71 will do nothing. to improve public safety, he said.

“(It’s) an unreasonable assault on the lives of law-abiding gun owners…it’s politically motivated confiscation, plain and simple,” Shandro said.

“Although the federal government has labeled them ‘assault type’, it’s a label designed to scare off Canadians who don’t know about firearms. These pistols are not materially different from any semi-automatic.

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Federal Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino, Shandro noted, has asked the province to provide resources to allow the RCMP to seize 1,500 models of firearms this fall, including antique collectibles and hunting rifles.

He said that means Ottawa intends to “enlist” RCMP officers in Alberta as officers; and, it has been advised that the Commander of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police K-Division does not support the federal plan.

“But we believe the federal government will continue with its plans undeterred,” Shandro said, adding that he had ordered the Alberta RCMP command to refuse to carry out the confiscations given that they are not not a police priority.

If Ottawa nevertheless goes ahead, the province will challenge it further by invoking Article 23 of the Provincial Policing Agreement, which is intended as a dispute resolution mechanism.

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While he was unable to say how much it would cost the Alberta government in police resources to seize the firearms, he said the $750 million a year Albertans pay to run the RCMP in the province could be used for this purpose.

“(Oppose it) makes sure that money spent on policing is spent on policing,” Shandro said.

Ottawa, he said, should focus more on reducing the flow of illegal firearms into the country.

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However, the province’s position is an exercise in futility whose only value is in local political theater, said constitutional expert and former Alberta Liberal leader David Khan.

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“In 1996, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the regulation of firearms is primarily within federal jurisdiction and not an intrusion into federal jurisdiction,” Khan said.

“Alberta just gets them to be tough on Ottawa. It’s a boon for the politically connected lawyers they hire to represent them.

Alberta’s position will be hampered by its failure to demonstrate that a gun buy-back program does not serve a public safety purpose, Khan said.

“It’s ridiculous that they’re claiming that this federal buyout program isn’t related to community safety, or isn’t a worthwhile use of federal/provincial RCMP policing resources,” he said. .

The province’s challenge is not a way to advance the UCP government’s decision to create a provincial police force, said Shandro, who called the two issues “separate”.

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When asked if the province’s position could endanger RCMP members tasked with seizing firearms, he again insisted that Bill C-71 would fail to protect public safety.

“None of this is aimed at keeping our communities safe,” he said.

Shandro dismissed a suggestion that refusing to observe Ottawa’s gun control legislation is akin to the sovereignty law proposed by UCP leadership candidate Danielle Smith, who asks the province to ignore federal laws that are not in its interest.

Smith’s act was derided by Prime Minister Jason Kenney and others in his orbit as unconstitutional and unworkable.

In a statement on Monday, Smith praised the government’s efforts, saying that if its sovereignty law becomes law, it would be rolled out “carefully along the lines proposed by (Shandro) to not only deny provincial application of this program forfeiture, but… prohibit any application by the RCMP or our provincially regulated municipal police services of this flawed and unconstitutional federal policy.

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UCP leadership candidate Danielle Smith speaks at a campaign rally in Chestermere on Tuesday August 9, 2022.
UCP leadership candidate Danielle Smith speaks at a campaign rally in Chestermere on Tuesday August 9, 2022. Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia

Alberta police say they are encountering more and more firearms during their investigations.

In an incident earlier this month, Strathmore RCMP said a road rage incident involving a handgun led to them seizing 49 firearms – including several handguns along with some of the weapons held and stored illegally – at the suspect’s home in Calgary.

Alberta’s challenge to Ottawa politics is “disappointing” but will not derail its efforts to get guns off the streets for public safety, a spokesperson for Mendicino’s office said.

“We will continue to work with law enforcement officials, provincial and territorial partners, industry leaders and law-abiding gun owners to implement our plan in accordance with the code. applicable criminal and firearms laws, which the courts have repeatedly held fall within federal jurisdiction. Audrey Champoux said in an email.

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The Coalition for Gun Control said Bill C-71 is long overdue and targets issues beyond the conventional criminal use of guns.

“For too long a vocal minority has hijacked the public gun control agenda and we have seen the impact of the (Stephen) Harper years of handgun proliferation, escalating gun violence and hate-motivated mass shootings, most often with legal firearms,” read a statement on the coalition’s website.

“This bill will strengthen firearms license screening processes with particular emphasis on risk factors associated with domestic violence, but also suicide and hate crimes. He will support a ban on certain military-style semi-automatic assault weapons such as the AR-15 and Ruger Mini-14, which are not reasonably used for hunting but are designed to effectively kill people.

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Twitter: @BillKaufmannjrn

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