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The Epoch Times
The Epoch Times
25 Mar 2023


NextImg:Alberta Firearms Act to Oppose Feds' Gun Confiscation Passes Third Reading

A bill introduced by the Alberta government to protect its lawful firearms owners from the federal government’s gun confiscation program has passed third reading.

In a 28–7 vote on March 22, Bill 8, the Alberta Firearms Act, passed third reading on division, with seven NDP MLAs voting against it.

In a speech delivered prior to the vote, Brad Rutherford, government whip (minister without portfolio), said Bill 8 puts the interest of law-abiding firearms owners first.

“It accomplishes three main goals: one, it supports the firearms community in the face of Ottawa’s attacks on lawful firearm owners; it reduces confusion and increases accountability regarding the Chief Firearms Officer’s role; and three, it creates tools that enable Alberta to protect its jurisdiction over firearms,” he said at the assembly.

The Alberta Firearms Act was introduced by Justice Minister Tyler Shandro on March 7 in response to Ottawa’s plan to confiscate certain types of guns that it regarded as “assault-style” weapons, including AR-15s.

In May 2020, the Liberal government issued a ban on more than 1,500 models of previously legally purchased firearms. Last October, the minority government put a freeze on the purchase, sale, transfer, and import of handguns, which effectively bans handgun ownership in the country.

In November 2022, the Trudeau government tabled sweeping last-minute amendments to Bill C-21, which was  being debated by the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security before the session ended for the holidays.

If passed, the federal bill will ban most semi-automatic shotguns and rifles—including many ordinary hunting shotguns and rifles purchased legally. The proposed amendments would also ban any gun that can hold a detachable magazine.

On Dec. 29, 2022, a memo released by Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) proposed the “transition” of how firearms will be confiscated from gun owners starting in the country’s smallest province.

“Prince Edward Island (PE) will be used as a pilot and will be the first point of collection based on the smaller number of firearms,” said the memo, titled “2022 Minister’s Transition Book 2: Core responsibility 1—Purchase of goods and services.”

“As a result, lessons learned, gaps analysis and risk assessment would inform the phase 2 national roll-out.”

The memo said phase 2 of the national roll-out is planned for spring 2023 once an information technology case management system is in place.

“It will be implemented in collaboration with other government departments, provincial, municipal and territorial governments and potential Industry partners,” PSPC staff wrote.

At a media roundtable on March 15, Shandro criticized the Liberals’ confiscation program for potentially “criminalizing thousands of Canadians.”

“If they are going to have a confiscation program, we have to ensure the province is involved in licensing and we will be advocating for sensible legislative changes rather than ones, like C21 and order of council, that are targeting law-abiding Canadians and criminalizing thousands of Canadians over night for being in possession of legally acquired property,” he said.

According to the Alberta government, the province has over 340,000 licensed firearm owners, and more than 650 firearms-related businesses.

Shandro said the federal government doesn’t know whom they will use for the confiscation program—municipal employees, RCMP, police forces or a private contractor.

The province, however, is aware that some municipalities want to enter into an agreement with the federal government and receive funding to have municipal employees be involved in the confiscation program.

“We do not want police resources taken off the streets and being wasted and distracted by being involved with the confiscation program,” said Shandro. “If a municipality is going to have municipal employees involved, they are going to have to work with us.”

The province’s official site said Bill 8, if gained royal assent, will give Alberta “more tools” to protect areas of provincial jurisdiction over firearms, including “limiting municipalities and municipal police services from entering into firearms-related funding agreements with the federal government.”

Rutherford said suggestions that the act is unnecessary or creates a less safe environment for Albertans is “patently false.”

On Oct. 2, 2022, federal Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino accused Shandro of “insinuating that the RCMP will not be enforcing federal law” and that his resistance to the gun confiscation program was “reckless” and amounting to a “political stunt.”

In a video posted on Twitter on March 7, Shandro said the Liberals’ gun confiscation program won’t work.

“None of these federal policies will make our communities safer,” he said. “They are targeting law-abiding, responsible Canadians.

To date, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and New Brunswick have joined forces to oppose  using “scarce RCMP and municipal police resources to confiscate more than 100,000 legally acquired firearms from Canadians.”

The Yukon legislature also passed a motion against diverting territorial policing resources to assist in the Liberals’ plan.

Marnie Cathcart and The Canadian Press contributed to this report.