Alberta hits back at Ottawa by submitting state firearms law

The Alberta government has kept its earlier promises and introduced a state firearms bill intended to oppose Ottawa’s efforts to confiscate certain types of guns.

Justice Minister Tyler Shandro introduced Bill 8, the Alberta Firearms Act, in Parliament on March 7. Its purpose is to “give the province more tools to protect its jurisdictions against firearms while expanding the role of Alberta’s Supreme Firearms Authority.” “

“The passage of the Alberta Firearms Act will strengthen Alberta’s ability to regulate, manage and advocate on behalf of firearm owners,” the government said. news release.

One of the proposed changes would prevent local governments and local police from “entering firearms-related funding agreements with the federal government.”

At a press conference on March 7, Shandro Said The state had “great concerns” about the federal government funding local government employees to act as “confiscation agents” for arms seizures.

Shandro said the state was “against the confiscation program from the beginning” because it would not enhance public safety. He said the federal government is “lowering the mandatory minimum penalties for those accused and convicted of arms trafficking” and should instead work with states to improve safety and reduce gun crime. said.

“The forfeiture program doesn’t do that,” Shandro said, adding that under Bill 8, anyone acting as a “seizure agent” must be licensed by the state.

“We believe that no one should be involved in being a seizure agent for a forfeiture program,” he said. “Alberta is taking a clear stance on hunters, farmers, sporting shooters and indigenous peoples who understand the importance of responsible firearms ownership to Alberta’s heritage and culture.”

Federal Gun Ban Efforts

The federal government first moved in May 2020 to ban a long list of more than 1,500 types of legally purchased firearms and reclassify them as prohibited under a congressional order. .Trudeau continued Handgun ban and freeze announcement effective October 21, 2022.

In November, the government introduced a last-minute sweeping amendment to Bill C-21. The amendment was being debated by a House committee before the end of the holiday session.

If passed, the bill would ban most semi-automatic shotguns and rifles, including many legally purchased regular hunting shotguns and rifles. The proposed amendment would also ban guns that can hold removable magazines.

The bill and the last-minute major amendment sparked an uproar from firearm owners and opposition parties. Opposition parties said the bill targets hunters, farmers, ranchers and sport shooters and includes thousands of popular common rifle and shotgun makes and models. It does not need to be registered and was legally purchased by a licensed, licensed and trained firearms owner.

Shandro said at the time that the bill “could criminalize hundreds of thousands of Canadians overnight, most of them living in western Canada.”

Bill 8 It provides about 60 subsections on how states can develop firearms regulations. For example, some provisions allow states to determine the types and grades of firearms licenses, while others establish license application fees and rules for issuing and renewing licenses.

“Alberta may create regulations to address federal actions that adversely affect law-abiding firearms owners here,” Shandro said, citing the seizure and confiscation of firearms as an example. mentioned above.

The bill also requires the Supreme Firearms Office, which was set up to administer firearms laws in 2021, to produce an annual report. With a budget of $5.8 million this year, the Firearms Administration will more than double its workforce, from 30 to 70.

Additionally, develop a Firearms Compensation Commission to require forensic examination of confiscated firearms that may have been used in crimes and to ensure that owners receive fair compensation for their firearms.

Alberta has previously indicated that it will not allow the RCMP to act as a confiscation agent. The province has jurisdiction over Alberta’s police agreements.

Alberta NDP Justice Critic Irfan Sabir Said Measure 8 “does nothing to keep assault weapons off the streets or improve family safety.” But the federal government “needs to withdraw and reconsider amendments that would capture many firearms, including those used by Albertans and Indigenous peoples for hunting,” he added.

Alberta has 341,988 individuals licensed to possess or acquire firearms. Alberta has 127 licensed shooting ranges and over 650 firearms-related businesses.

According to the Alberta government, an average of about 30,000 gun owners completed firearm safety training each year, up to 38,000 by 2021.

Canadian Press contributed to this report.